Friday, December 27, 2013

Jesus: Immanuel, God With Us

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).  ~Matthew 1:23
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). ~Matthew 1:23

This past Sunday Pastor shared with us the account of Jesus’ birth from the book of Matthew. As he noted, this account was written about Joseph’s perspective and the encounter he had with an angel in a dream. The angel came to assure Joseph the child Mary was carrying was of the Holy Spirit and not from an adulterous relationship with another man. In fact, the conception of this child was the fulfilling of a prophecy found in the book of Isaiah which Matthew noted for us here in verse 23. The child is God come in the flesh! God has come to live and walk among His people!

“Behold, I send my messenger and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” ~Malachi 3:1

In another Old Testament prophecy from the book of Malachi we find out something very important… God is coming! God said He would send a messenger to prepare the way before He came to His people and His temple Himself. God was coming and He was coming to do something no one else could do.

He saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no one to intercede; then his own arm brought him salvation, and his righteousness upheld him. ~Isaiah 59:16

From God’s perspective there was no one who could rightly govern His people, no one who could stand before Him and intercede for the great evil and sin of mankind. No one living or dead could ever effect a change in the heart of humanity and save the world. The basic theme of Isaiah's message can actually be found in the meaning of his own name, which means “Salvation is of the Lord.” God knew that no human being would be able to deliver His creation from the bondage of sin and death, so He would have to do it Himself. God Almighty would come into this world as a man and redeem what He had created. Only the holy righteousness of God would be able to sustain the battle against sin and corruption.

Who has believed what they heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? ~Isaiah 53:1

In one of the most beloved Messianic passages of the Bible, the prophet Isaiah begins by asking two questions. If the remaining 11 verses of chapter fifty-three are to make any sense, you must be able to answer them both in the affirmative. His first question asks if anyone believes or understands the message that he has been bringing from God. It was a message of judgment and redemption, a message of justice and deliverance, and a message of wrath and hope. Isaiah had been telling the people that God will judge sinful, evil, and immoral living. His second question asks if we know Jesus.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20,21

The angel told Joseph that the child Mary carried would save His people from their sins. The arm of the Lord was now revealed, who would recognize Him? Who would receive Him? As Pastor noted, the name Immanuel reflects God’s desire to be with us. God loves His people and came to save us… something we could never do on our own. He came seeking and saving not after we repented, not after we apologized, not after we cleaned ourselves up, and not after we believed, but while we were in the very act of warring against Him with the enemy. Jesus was born into this world, lived a sinless life and then died for us. It is almost impossible to understand that while we were yet in the act of our rebellion against Him, He came in the form of a man and took our punishment upon Himself and died in our place. But that is who He is… “the with us God.”

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” ~Luke 19:9,10

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Jesus: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  ~Luke 1:32,33
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. ~Isaiah 9:6

In chapter eight of the book of Isaiah, the prophet paints a dark and depressing picture of the condition of his people and their immediate future. The gloom spills over into chapter nine but here in the sixth verse a starburst of hope and beauty explodes across the canvas. A Messiah is coming; a Savior who shall be born to His people and for His people! Isaiah sees a day when a Child would be born who take upon His shoulders the governing of an eternal kingdom. Who is this Child? Who is this Savior? He is the Wonderful Counselor, He is Mighty God!

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. ~Isaiah 7:14

Earlier in the book of Isaiah the prophet speaks of a sign which would be given to king Ahaz of Judah concerning God’s promise to deliver the nation from a coming military assault. But, it is this prophecy which also speaks of the coming Messiah who is to be both man and God! Humanity and divinity conceived in the womb of a virgin girl by an act of God. When the prophecy says His name shall be called “Immanuel”, it means “God with us.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ~John 1:1

According to the Holy Spirit inspired words of John the Apostle, the Word of God is eternal, co-existing with God Almighty and is in fact God Himself. Later we find out this Word was made flesh… God the Creator lived among His creation as a man.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~John 1:14

I have had a number of conversations with people who call themselves Christian but do not yet understand Jesus is God. Jesus is God! Now that statement is one which can get you in a lot of trouble today. Jesus is not just “a god”, but the one and only Almighty God, Creator of heaven and earth. Remember the picture Isaiah was painting of the utter despair and gloomy predicament for his people and nation? That is the same condition our society, nation and world exists in today. Humanity lives in a land of deep darkness where there is pain, hunger, gloom and anguish. Sin and the suffering it brings has ridden over us and conquered this world like some dark marauding army. People need to know God has come, people need to hear the good news that a Child was born and a Son has been given! People need to hear about Jesus.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Luke 2:10-14