Text: Matthew 1:18-25 NLT
Now this is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.
As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this happened to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“Look! The virgin will conceive a child!
She will give birth to a son,
and he will be called Immanuel
(meaning, God is with us).”
When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
How many dimensions does this mug have? What about this mug? Can they occupy the same place? What about at separate times? How many dimensions exist in our home universe? (Four = height, depth, width, and time) We live in the space-time continuum.
We All Underestimate God
One of the biggest mistakes we make in the way we think about God is thinking about him in four-dimensional terms. God is not four-dimensional. According to the proponents of the String Theory, there was a dimensional split shortly after beginning of our universe. In other words, there are more dimensions than meet the eye. Physicists propose the existence of at least ten dimensions. That has led some to argue that God is eleven dimensional. The truth is: God is extra-dimensional. He is beyond all the dimensions. He cannot be defined or confined by any of dimensions. God is the Creator of dimensions.
Glory and honor to God forever and ever. He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17 NLT) God is the only immortal, invisible, eternal King of all things. He deserves our worship because he is our Creator.
Immanuel: God with us
God entered our space-time continuum 2,000 years ago in a tiny village outside Jerusalem called Bethlehem. The Bible says, “When the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law.” (Galatians 4:4 NLT) Jesus was subject to the same spiritual laws that govern all of us. He was also subject to the same physical laws that govern the universe. Jesus was subject to the same spiritual laws that govern all of us. He was also subject to the same physical laws that govern the universe.
What do you think about this? For nearly 30 years, Jesus worked as a carpenter. Have you ever thought about Jesus ever missing a nail and hitting his thumb? Did he ever have a splinter? I think he did. I think Jesus got bumps, bruises, toothaches, stomachaches, and headaches. I know he got tired and hungry. He got sad and mad. The Bible says he was tempted just like we are, but he never gave into temptation. (Hebrews 4:15) He suffered like we do — more than we do. We don’t serve a scar-less God. We serve a God with scarred hands and feet and side and back. God knows from experience what life in this world is like.
Moses Brushed by the Infinite
[After the people of Israel made a golden calf idol] the LORD said to Moses, “Now that you have brought these people out of Egypt, lead them to the land I solemnly promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them long ago that I would give this land to their descendants. And I will send an angel….
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You call me by name and tell me I have found favor with you. Please, if this is really so, show me your intentions so I will understand you more fully and do exactly what you want me to do. Besides, don’t forget that this nation is your very own people.”
And the LORD replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses. I will give you rest — everything will be fine for you.”
Then Moses said, “If you don’t go with us personally, don’t let us move a step from this place. If you don’t go with us, how will anyone ever know that your people and I have found favor with you…?”
And the LORD replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for you have found favor with me, and you are my friend.”
Then Moses had one more request. “Please let me see your glorious presence,” he said.
The LORD replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, ‘the LORD,’ to you. I will show kindness to anyone I choose, and I will show mercy to anyone I choose. But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” (Exodus 33:1-2, 12-20 NLT)
The LORD is beyond anything we can experience. He is the only immortal, invisible, eternal King of all things. He deserves our worship because he is holy and morally pure.
Jesus “made himself nothing.” He “humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6) God became one of us. He became touchable and approachable. Consider these thoughts with me.
• The One who is beyond all time and space downsized to the confines of a human womb for nine months.
• The One who created the cosmos from nothing with just a word – became a helpless baby that had to be fed, nursed and burped.
• The One who has immediate recall of all knowledge, understanding and wisdom – had to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic.
He became nothing. He became nothing so that we could become something. The Bible says, “He who knew no sin became sin for us so that we could become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia, wrote, “The Son of God became a [human] to enable humans to become the sons of God.” (Hymns for the Family of God #167) The Bible says the same thing. “Although the world was made through him, the world didn’t recognize him when he came. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn! This is not a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan — this rebirth comes from God. (John 1:10, 12-13 NLT)
Jesus says, “Give me all of your sin. I’ll give you all of my righteousness. And we’ll call it even.” One man summarizes this in three short sentences. “He came to our place. He took our place. And he invites us back to his place.”
God Most High
God is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:15-16 NRSV)
The truth is: God is beyond all the positions of power and authority. He cannot be defined or confined by any other person’s plans or purposes. God is the Creator of all other persons. God is the only immortal, invisible, eternal King of all things.
The Present of Presence
The greatest gift a parent can give a child is the present of presence. That is what kids crave. Too many parents think throwing expensive gifts under the Christmas tree will make up for not being around the rest of the year. In our hearts, we all know better than that. A brand new video game is fun. Playing that game with mom and dad is priceless.
Many of us try to be joyful without a sense of God’s presence. That is terribly frustrating. The greatest gift God gives us is the present of presence. Jesus said, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Have you noticed that the best experiences lack something when we experience them by ourselves? The greatest experiences are shared experiences. That is why God became Immanuel. He wants to share his life with you as you share your life with him. God wants to spend eternity with you. Even I get tired of being around me sometimes! But not God.
God is immortal and invisible. But he is also Immanuel. If you want a balanced picture of God, you have to put those titles side by side. He is immortal, invisible, Immanuel. Jesus is God Most High and God Nearby. He exists outside time and space. He is also “God with us.”
The LORD will guide you continually, watering your life when you are dry and keeping you healthy, too. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (Isaiah 58:11 NLT)
“The LORD will guide you continually.” Not an angel, but God himself will guide you. Friends, God has not left you in your earthly journey to an angel’s guidance. “God is with us” leads you. You may not see Him but Jesus will never abandon you.
Did you notice that word “continually”? Immanuel is not merely your guide sometimes. He is your perpetual overseer. Immanuel will not leave you to your own understanding from time to time. If he did, you might lose your way. Immanuel is the Great Shepherd and we can always listen for his voice. And if we follow him closely, we will not go astray.
If you have to change your place in life; if you have to move abroad to distant shores; if you are thrown into poverty, or promoted to a more responsible position; if you wake up among strangers, or among enemies, THERE IS NO NEED TO BE AFRAID. Immanuel has come. God is with you and he will guide you continually.
The immortal invisible God of infallible wisdom will direct you. The immortal invisible God of unconditional love will comfort you. The immortal invisible God of eternal power will defend you. The immortal invisible God, “the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,” is Immanuel. (Genesis 14:22 NLT) The immortal invisible God who is not confined or defined by any dimension is with us. Jesus is the infinite, immortal, invisible Immanuel. God is with you and you can enjoy his presence anytime and anywhere.
The cosmos of time and space can never be big enough for the immortal invisible God who created it, redeemed it, and sustains it. At the same time by his amazing grace, Immanuel can live in the hearts and minds of those who receive him.
Go on your way with renewed spirits, rejoicing that the Holy Friend who meets us in this house of prayer will be with you through every hour of this week. You will never walk alone.
Enter the New Year with hope and anticipation. There is nothing that will catch the immortal invisible only wise God unprepared, and nothing can outwit the ingenuity of his divine grace. You are and will be more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.
THIS IS MY PRAYER FOR YOU:
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ will cover all your faults. May the love of God provide for you through every moment. May the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all the way. Amen!
Please take a few moments to greet each other over a cup of coffee or hot cocoa. Let’s experience Christmas together.