Summary: what this sign of emmanuel means for us


18Now 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. 19Joseph, her fiance, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly.

20As 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. 21And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus,[7] for he will save his people from their sins." 22All 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[8]

(meaning, God is with us)."

24When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord commanded. He brought Mary home to be his wife, 25but she remained a virgin until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus. Matthew 1:18-25 (NLT)

Illustration: See pictures of babies.

Cute, enchanting, aww… don’t u just want to pick them up? Are u drawn to them? Do u feel your heart melt? Do u see a smile on your face?

Today’s bible reading in Matthew 1 is so designed by God to melt away our hardened hearts, do u see God as a baby coming up close in the flesh. Vulnerable… When he was born, he was placed in a manger, where animals go to eat. Placed in a manger, how precarious that is. Imagine today’s safety police if they would hear of it, they would cry child abuse. What kind of daycare is this you are running here, eh Joe and Mary? These days if you don’t have the right kind of booster seat, or baby seat, you can be ticketed by the police.

Back to the manger, who knows what could happened, a cow that suddenly falls while feeding could easily have squashed a little fragile baby. Have you gone to a barn? It doesn’t smell good, does it? Why? He could have come as a full grown adult, and miss out on the trials of being lost while his busy parents forgot all about him, he could have missed out on puberty, he could have , couldn’t he? But God chose to come that way…. God is in our world, with us! He has come, and as a vulnerable baby, that cries when he needs a change or gets hungry. WOW! How it speaks powerfully of God’s determination to be with us humans.

This month, Charles Colson, on his radio commentary called Breakpoint spoke about a new TV project produced by the famous movie maker Steven Spielberg called Steven Spielberg Presents Taken. Apparently, it was aired for twenty hours on ten consecutive weeknights, on the Sci-Fi channel in the US. One critic mentioned that this series was "the most ambitious sci-fi epic ever produced." As u may know from the title, the subject of the series Taken is - Aliens regularly come to Earth, abduct ordinary people, take them to their ships, and then return them. Colson noted: “While twenty hours may seem a bit excessive, it really isn’t when we understand what lies behind our interest in the subject.” You see, people’s interest in the subject stems from this – people are looking for God, or trying to find a substitute answer to God. Their search led them to think maybe our origins are not from monkeys, because they have seen that the theory of evolution is falling apart. There is no physical evidence of a missing link to be found anywhere in the world in the fossil record. So how do u explain us, if we reject the Bible? There must be a cause- maybe, just maybe, there’s an explanation if we look to the skies and into outer space, long long ago in far, far away galaxy.

So the haunting question of humans “Are we alone in the universe?” remains and Spielberg is trying to answer it by believing in Aliens. Apparently many intelligent folks are doing the same… John Mack, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his 1977 biography of Lawrence of Arabia, wrote a new book - Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens. Colson noted: “The book is based on interviews with his patients who believe they were kidnapped by aliens. Under hypnosis, these people supposedly recovered "repressed memories" of those past experiences. They "remembered," for example, that the aliens were short, gray creatures with spindly legs and large, triangular heads who take people aboard their spacecraft. These aliens are not only more technologically advanced than we humans, but they are also spiritually superior.” Mack really believes his patients’ story and therefore he published them and he said "some powerful intelligence is trying to intervene in human affairs."

This Christmas season we no longer need to grasp at straws, nor look to the skies, nor seek inspiration for living by viewing past episodes of the X-files, we can see in a real live baby born to be king, born to die on the cross, born that we can say the truth is right here, close by God with us. The truth is not out there, illusive and mysterious. The truth has come in the flesh. That my friends is the true sign of Christmas joy…

"Look! The virgin will conceive a child!

She will give birth to a son,

and he will be called Immanuel[8]

(meaning, God is with us)."

This is the Answer to the question: Are we alone in the universe? To every boy that cries, every girl whose heart is broken, to every man’s search for meaning, to every woman’s longing for true love, for every searching heart, God speaks through the Christmas story, through His Word – “God is with us.” You are not alone!

Let me submit to you today God wants to come into all our lives. He so desperately wants to be with us that he would shed His royal robes and become like one of us. Imagine this if suddenly, the Queen of England, and Prince Philip decided people can approach them, discarding all the rules and protocol that’s accorded to royalty and choose to live on the streets of Calcutta. This past October, if u can remember, Louis Garneau, 44 year old Canadian cyclist, while receiving the Order of Canada, caused quite a stir in Britain. People there froze in horror when they saw what he did on TV and in their newspapers. The media there had unkind things to say about Garneau. Do u remember what he did that was so outrageous and controversial? He placed his hand on the Queen Elizabeth II’s shoulder, while taking a camera shot, and that is a No, No. It was a forbidden thing to do under royal protocol. One headline there read “Framing Cheek of the Canadian Subject Who Got a Little Too Touchy.” Touching the Queen has caused a flap before. In Australia, the prime minister of the day, Paul Keating, touched the Queen’s lower back on a visit there 10 years ago, earning him the nickname "The Lizard of Oz."

The Christmas story is one big illustration of God’s passion to make sure that people everywhere can know when they look at Jesus, they can touch God with no penalties, no name-calling, in fact He says “Come near all who weary and I will give u rest.” Immanuel speaks of a God who invites you to His presence, He can be touched, He can be felt, He can be near. If u would come near… Throw all the rules away, joy to the world, the Lord is come! God is with us! There’s a popular song that “God is watching us, God is watching us, from a distance” Today we can say “baloney” to that. Why? Because God is not satisfied to watch from a distance. He does not want to be an armchair quarterback, rearranging icons with the click of a mouse, does not want to just visit on the weekend, He is determined to be with us! And for our sakes’ he was born of a virgin and placed in a manger.

And why are we convinced that this is all true. Think with me, how can a vulnerable baby arrange for his birth to be written about centuries before it happened. . It is statistically improbable all the accurate detailed prophecies could have been fulfilled by chance or good guessing or by some conspiracy. They would have to live for more than a thousand years to make sure every prophecy is fulfilled in the right way. And since God was always there and is alive forever, it is not impossible for him to arrange history to suit his purposes. So the Bible says: “22All of this happened to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:”… a prophet who lived several hundred years before Christ.

Let me share with u this story…

There’s a notorious sinner, was thrown out of church and was forbidden to go to church. So he took his troubles to God, “They won’t let me in because I am a sinner” “What are u complaining about?” said God . “They won’t let me in either.”

Christmas is a sign to us all God is with us, but are we letting Him in. Have we said to Him go away, don’t bother me. Or did u God saying perhaps for the first time, “let me come in, I am with you.” Would u today respond to Him?

THE SIGN of Christmas is Immanuel - God is with us, let me summarize…

It speaks of …

a) Immediacy: God wants to stay involved in us,

b) Intention: God aims for us to belong

c) Inclusion: God has no wish to exclude us, ban us

d) Impact: God’s longs to be released into joy

e) Fulfillment: Ancient prophecy comes to past give us assurance

f) Forgiveness: If we receive this gift of God, we have God with us

g) For us: God is for us, are you with Him?

As u go home today, look and see the Sign “Immanuel - God is with us” breathe in that fresh air of Christmas, may u keep on drawing strength for each day God is stuck on you, loves you and is with you. Merry Christmas, everyone!