Sunday, December 18, 2016
Advent Series #4
Isaiah 7: 10 – 17: Matthew 1: 23
Preached by Rev. Dr. Harold E. Kidd
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel. Which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
While all three of the Synoptic Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke record many of the same narratives in similar versions, only Matthew gives this striking account of an Angel appearing to Joseph, to strengthen his faith that even while this unborn child is not his own, that Mary is a chosen vessel, and the child she bears, is of divine conception. Notice that Matthew tells the nativity from Joseph’s viewpoint. And Joseph never says a word. But the Angel is speaking to Joseph. “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel. Which is translated, ‘God with us.’”
In verse 22 Matthew records, “So that this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet.” Once again we see that the prophetical writings of Isaiah have been fulfilled. Because it was Isaiah who had prophesied in chapter 7: 14 these very same words. How interesting it is that God keeps His promises. Isaiah wrote his book some 700 years before the birth of Christ.
And yet, “In the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin, that He might redeem we who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as Sons and daughters.” Hopes, Dreams, and aspirations deferred in God do not necessarily mean dreams denied. If you are one who is feeling like the Jews in Isaiah’s day this morning, wondering when is my change going to come? Have faith in God. Respond to God’s infinite wisdom, wait for His clear direction, and follow where the Holy Spirit is prompting you to follow.
700 years… but dreams deferred do not suggest dreams denied. Yes, “and they shall call His name Immanuel. Which is translated, God with us.” First Matthew uses the Hebrew “Immanuel”, and then he translates it into the Gentile tongue “God with us.” This phrase “being interpreted” at Jesus’ birth, and the languages employed in the Latin inscription upon the Cross at His crucifixion, show that Jesus is not only the Savior of Jews, but of Gentiles as well. He came to save all humanity not just a privileged few. His cabinet, the 12 disciples would not be made up of billionaires and millionaires, like our current President-elect, but of the common and the lowly. Some even of ill repute. But we have to put our faith in Him and accept Him as our personal Lord and Savior. He can save for the gutter most to the utter most. Immanuel.
God keeps His promises. He promised that in Abraham’s seed all the world would be blessed. He promised to raise up a Savior from the bloodline of David. He promises to save all who will turn to Him with repentant tears and hearts of faith. He promises to provide for every need of those who seek first the Kingdom of God. He promises to answer our prayers, bless our homes, and give new meaning to our lives. And when we’ve come to the end of our journey, He promises that He has prepared a place for us, a House filled with many mansions, that where He is we shall someday be also.
What He promises, He is also able to perform. 700 years between the promise and its fulfillment. Immanuel, God with us. And this is a wonderful fact that God who is the Eternal and Almighty One came in the presence of His Only Begotten Son, became flesh and bone. Immanuel, God with us. The God who made all things, set aside His celestial glory, humbled Himself and became one of His own beloved creations.
Immanuel, God with us, who stepped out of eternity and was born into time. Immanuel, God with us, The God who created His own mother, participated in His own conception, engineered His own labor pains, and was born when He got ready and then took upon abode in her womb. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth.” Immanuel, God with us, who one day left His very footprints in the sand which He created by the Sea of Galilee.
What child is this we ask, who was born of Mary, yet conceived by the Holy Ghost? The God-Man. Very God of very God, and yet Very man of Very Man. Meaning He is the fullness of God and yet He is the fullness of Man. Immanuel, God with us. As a man He gets hungry. As a man He gets thirsty. As a man He must sleep. As a man He labors. As a man Jesus wept. As a man Jesus was tempted yet without sin. As a man Jesus knew fatigue and He did at times grow weary. As a man He prays. As a man He knows what it means to be homeless, with nowhere to lay His head. As a man He knows what it means to be betrayed, despised, rejected and falsely accused. If there is anybody here who has very thought that God doesn’t know what you are going through or have been through. If there’s anybody here who has ever had the feeling that God is removed, remote, or distant from your situation, then consider Immanuel, God with us.
And because Jesus as God became a man, Immanuel, God in the flesh, God up close and personal, as God He is able to be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. As God He is able to comfort, strengthen, and keep you. As God He is able to carry you through. As God He is able to bind of the wounds of the broken hearted, set the captives free, and save us from the sins that so easily beset us.
But let me back up for a moment. Unique to Matthew is the telling of the genealogy of Jesus. From Abraham to David are 14 generations. From David to the Babylonian Captivity are 14 generations. And from the Babylonian captivity to His birth are 14 generations. Mathew goes on to name Rahab, Ruth and Bathsheba among the ancestors of Jesus. Matthew is trying to tell us that this Immanuel, God with us, descends not just from a bloodline full of kings and queens. But also from outsiders, persons of questionable character, and some patriarchs and kings who themselves lived in glass houses. Flawed just like us because of the sin nature handed down through that first man, Adam.
What are you trying to tell us Matthew? This God, Immanuel walks with the saints and the sinners, tax collectors, doubters, lepers, demon possessed, whoremongers, thieves, criminals, murderers, racist, thugs, Straight, Gay, Queer, This Savior Immanuel, God with us, is no respecter of persons, based upon background, race, sex, culture, or social status. He does not keep a record of our wrong doings, but His blood can make the foulest clean. All, we have to do is to confess our sins and give Him our soul. Amen.
And because Jesus is God who became a man, Immanuel, God with us, He wants to be our Healer, He wants to be our Comforter. He wants to liberate us from the sins and burdens that so easily beset us. Immanuel, God with us, He is a Counselor, He’s a mind fixer and heart regulator, He is an Advocate, when everyone else forsakes us He’s promised to never leave us nor forsake us. He’s our friend who sticks closer than a Father, Mother, Sister, or Brother, because we are His first love. He walks with us, and He talks with us, and He tells us we are His own. And if there is anybody here who doesn’t understand what I am preaching about this morning, concerning our Immanuel, just keep on living.
One day a man had a dream. You’ve heard the story, “As he was walking along the beach with the Lord, across the dark sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonging to him and one belonging to the Lord.
After the last scene of his life flashed before him. He looked back at these footprints in the sand, the journey of his life, He noticed that at many times along life’s journey, especially at the very lowest and saddest times, there was only one set of footprints. This really troubled him, so he asked the Lord about it. “Lord, you said once I decided to follow You, You’d walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times in my life there was only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand it Lord, why? When I needed you the most, You would leave me all alone.” And the Lord whispered to him, My precious child, I love you and will never leave you. Never, ever during your trials and tribulations. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” For He is Immanuel, God with us!