“IMMANUEL: GOD WITH US”
If you look closely enough, you will discover that God often does the extra-ordinary in every day ordinary ways. Nowhere is this more evident than in the birth of His Son Jesus.
The manner of conception was extra-ordinary. Mary, a virgin, was found to be with a child conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the child in her womb was no ordinary child. He was the Son of God. He was extra-ordinary. He was special. He is Jesus. He is Savior.
But the physical birth itself was just plain and ordinary. A normal delivery. Let’s read about the birth of Jesus from Luke 2:1-7.
The physical birth of Christ seems so commonplace. And the reason for that is that it was. Jesus was born cloaked in commonness.
Take His parents for example. The King of Kings was not born to royalty. His step-dad and his mother were not King Joseph and Queen Mary. They were Norm and Norma Normal. Everyday common folk. As common as you are. As plain as I am.
Joseph was a carpenter by trade. Mary was a teen-ager. They were poor, peasant people. Joseph had calluses on his hands and Mary had stretch marks on her body. Just common folk.
The birth town of Jesus was pretty common. Yes, it was the hometown of King David, but there was nothing else really special attached to it. It was not the New York City or Los Angeles of its day. Bethlehem was a sleepy, little village where nothing exciting ever happened.
The birth place of Jesus was nothing to get excited about. A stable. The manger we sing about was the animal’s feeding trough. You want to talk about common, plain and mundane. No mother would intentionally select this as the place to give birth to her child.
The common birth of Jesus unveils this truth about Christmas. The real splendor of Christmas is found in the lack of it. God came into the world in an ordinary way.
God became a fetus. He placed himself into a young girl’s womb and surrounded Himself with placenta. He traveled through the birth canal and was delivered into this world by the rough hands of a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth.
There was nothing spectacular about that, except, that God became a flesh and blood human being. Max Lucado captures the miracle of God using the ordinary to bring about the extra-ordinary in the birth of Christ when he wrote- “Majesty in the midst of the mundane. Holiness in the filth of sheep manure and sweat. Divinity entering the world on the floor of a stable, through the womb of a teen-ager and in the presence of a carpenter.”
Why? So God could be with us. Turn with me to Matthew 1:23. In writing about the birth of Jesus, Matthew wrote……
GOD WITH US. That is the miracle of Christmas. God with us is the message of Christmas.
But why would God enter our world in such an un-spectacular way? Here’s the answer. If God would become flesh and dwell among people like Joseph and Mary, then we can believe that God is with us even now. You should never think that you are too normal, too ordinary or too common to miss out on the presence of God.
This Christmas season we are going to look at the name “Immanuel” and all that it means to us. Today, we begin by looking at this promise that God is with us.
The birth of Jesus illustrates what it means for God to be with us. First…..
Turn with me to John 1:1,14 & 18
Now that Jesus has been born, God has a face. John said that up to this time, no one had seen God. Moses asked God to be able to look upon Him, but Moses only got a glimpse of God’s back as He was walking away. No one had ever fully looked upon God in all His glory.
Until Jesus came. Now God has a face. In the person of Jesus, we see God. The invisible God has become visible to us. John declared that when He said that, in the person of Jesus, God became flesh.
A little boy was frightened during a thunderstorm late in the night. His mother tried to reassure him that God was with him and would take care of him. The little boy said, as he clung to his Mommy, “I know, but right now I need someone with skin on.”
In Jesus, we have a God with skin on! God became flesh. God became a flesh and blood human being.
And in the person of Jesus Christ, we begin to see and understand what God is really like. John wrote that when Jesus became flesh, He revealed God’s glory to us and made God known to us.
I’m reminded of another little boy who was drawing at the kitchen table while his mother was making dinner. She asked her budding Rembrandt what he was drawing. He said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” His mother smiled and quietly corrected him, “but honey, no one knows what God looks like.” The little boy responded, “they will when I get done!”
In the person of Jesus, we see exactly what God looks like.
At one point, Philip, one of the disciples, asked Jesus to show the Father (God) to them. Jesus’ response to Philip was- “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”
One time I was visiting my mom and was attending church with her. Mom introduced me to her friend, Ruth. Ruth took one look at me and said, “that’s Rex”, referring to my dad. I look like my dad. She could see my dad in me.
My son Todd gets that too. When people meet Todd, they say he looks like me, except I don’t think he is happy about the comparison.
Jesus is exactly like His Heavenly Father. So much so that He could tell Philip, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” Hebrews 1:3 declares:
“The Son reflects God’s own glory, and everything about Him represents God EXACTLY.” – Hebrews 1:3
It’s like one of my Bible College professors use to say- “Everything God is, Jesus was.” We see God in the person of Jesus.
In Jesus we see the tenderness of God when He held the children on His lap and taught them about the kingdom of heaven. In Jesus we see the mercy of God as He forgave the woman caught in adultery. In Jesus we see the righteous anger of God on display as He cleared the temple of the money changers and animal traders. In Jesus we see the compassion of God as He fed the hungry and healed the sick. And in Jesus we see the love of God demonstrated as He died on the cross for our sins.
In Jesus we have a God we can relate to. And we have a God who can relate to us because……
Jesus’ birth reveals the passion of God for us in that God became one of us. John said that God became flesh and made His dwelling among us. He came down to our level.
Do you know how you communicate effectively with a small child? You get down on their level. You bend over, you stoop down. Better yet, you get down on a knee so you can look in their eyes and they can look directly into your eyes. By doing so, you have removed the threatening barrier of you being this great big giant who is towering over them.
To be able to communicate with a child, you have to come down to their level. You do so physically with your posture. You have to do so mentally by trying to understand how a child thinks. You have to do so emotionally by trying to understand that a child has feelings and is sometimes very sensitive. And you have to do so verbally. You can’t communicate with a child if you are using words they don’t understand. You have to get down on their level.
In the person of Jesus, God got down on our level. He removed the barrier of our thinking that God is some undefined and out-of-touch entity way off up in heaven. He looked us directly in the eyes. He experienced life just like we have. He knows what it is like to be human.
The One who was not bound by time, lived in a world marked by time. The One who could be anywhere at any time, for 33 years, could only travel as far as His feet could walk in a day. The One who never slept, grew tired and required sleep. The One who never hungered, needed nourishment.
God became flesh. When Jesus got a splinter in His hand working in the carpenter’s shop, it hurt. When He got a cut, He bled real blood. He got dirt under His fingernails and drops of sweat beaded up on His brow.
When we are in pain, we’re tempted to think, “God, you don’t know what I’m going through. You don’t know how I feel.”
But, yes, God does. That’s because God entered our world. He knows what you’re going through because He’s been there. He has felt everything that you and I feel. He’s known heartbreak, disappointment and pain.
Why? Why would God do that? I can only think of a couple of reasons. One is because He loves you and desires a relationship with you. That’s why God became flesh and made His dwelling among us. It’s because He wants to be with you. You are special to Him. He must think highly of you to come down here to be with you. God must be really fond of you. And He is.
The second reason why God would be willing to be human and experience everything we have is so that we would really believe that He is Immanuel, that He is the God Who is with us.
And that leads to the 3rd thing that the birth of Jesus illustrates about God being with us:
“IMMANUEL”- God is with us.
Matthew 1:23 is a quote from Isaiah 7:14. The word, “Immanuel” in the Hebrew language is translated, literally, as the “With Us God”. God is our with us God. That promise is repeated all throughout Scripture. Just listen to some of these promises:
Isaiah 41:10- “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 43:2-3- “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Psalm 46:1- “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Psalm 121:5- “The Lord watches over you; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.”
Psalm 91:1-2- “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”
James 4:8- “Come near to God and He will come near to you.”
Jesus promised- Matthew 28:20- “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
I love God’s promise in Hebrews 13:5:
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” – Hebrews 13:5
Jesus’ birth reinforces to us that God is with us. Not He was, not He will be, not He might be, not He could be, not He would be if…. NO! God is with us.
God is our with us God. God is always with you. He is with you in your illness. God is with you as you go through marital difficulties. God is with you while you are facing financial challenges.
God is with you on those nights when you lie awake because your worries and fears are crowding your mind.
God is with you when you are aggravated with your boss or you are frustrated with traffic.
God is with you when you are being wheeled into the operating room; or when you are sitting in the waiting room while a loved one is being operated on. God is with you in the Counselor’s office.
God is with us. He is our with us God. He is with us, beside us, ahead of us, behind us, around us and in us.
And let me remind you of the most important time that God will be with you. At the time of your death. The 23rd Psalm says:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” – Psalm 23:4
As a Christian, you won’t have to face death alone and you won’t die alone. Loved ones may be gathered around your death bed beside you. But the One who loves you more than anyone else….the one who died for you… will be there the moment you die & slip from this earth into eternity. The Lord your shepherd will be there with you, to take your hand, to guide you through the valley of the shadow of death and lead you into the house of the Lord forever.
And ultimately that is why God came to be with us. He came to be with us, to make His dwelling here with us on earth, so that one day, we could be with Him in heaven.
Jesus made all this possible by His death and resurrection. He died on the cross to provide forgiveness of your sins and he arose from the grave to give you victory over death.
If you want the reality of God being with you and the hope of one day you being with God in heaven, I want to invite you to believe in Jesus as your Savior right now, this moment.
If you are worshipping online and you need to receive Jesus as your Savior, please call the phone number you will see in the chat thread.
If there is anyone here in the sanctuary this morning that wants to receive Jesus as your Savior, we’re going to sing a song. During the singing of the song, I invite you to walk to front and I can help you take the next steps in following Jesus.
You may already be a Christian, but you need a church home and you would like to join our church. I want to invite you to come forward this morning to join the church.
Lebanon Christian Church
409 Yorktown Road
Newport News (Lee Hall), VA 23603
Phone: 757 887-5536
Nursery - High School
|Adult Bible Fellowships||Sunday||9:30 AM|
|Morning Worship Service||Sunday||10:45 AM|
Children’s and teen Bible School will resume in September.