Emmanuel ¡V God with Us!
John 1:1-3, 10-14
December 14, 2003
This morning we continue our look at the Christmas story as related in Matthew. Last week we read from Matthew 1:18-25, which in those eight verses gives us a quick synopsis of the miracle of Jesus¡¦ birth.
The story is told in much more depth in the book of Luke, but this account is no less important, and I want to focus this morning on one portion of it.
A portion that centers on the lynchpin of God¡¦s plan to redeem us for Himself.
So turn with me once again, please, in your Bibles to Matthew 1. This is found on page 681 of the Bibles in the seats.
We will not read the whole passage, and I want us to pay attention to verses 21-23.
These three verses give us the frame of reference of what Christmas was to set into motion.
Please follow along as I read:
21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" --which means, "God with us."
Verse 21 gives the parting words of the angel, and verses 22-23 give us the context of this wonderful pronouncement.
These three verses set the stage for what I want to talk to you about today: the fact that God Himself came to earth in the form of a man.
He was literally ¡§Emmanuel ¡V God with us.¡¨ I want us to look at that more closely, and in doing that I want to offer you two paradoxical facts, and then offer you the opportunity to respond to them.
My desire is that by the time we¡¦re done here this morning, you will be more awed, more in love, and more moved to serve Him than ever before.
In hoping to help you in that, I want us to actually move out of Matthew to the gospel of John, the first chapter, which you can find on page 750 of the Bibles in the seats.
John chapter 1 gives us a little more insight into the miracle of God becoming man, and I want us to look at a few verses to help us grasp it a little more firmly, okay?
The first fact about Jesus ¡V Emmanuel is this:
1. Jesus created all things.
JN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning.
JN 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
Let me answer a question that you might have real quickly: how do we know this is Jesus being talked about here?
Verse 14, which we¡¦ll look at in more detail later gives us the answer by telling us that the Word of God mentioned here in verses 1-2 became flesh and lived among men.
But don¡¦t get ahead of me, okay?
Let¡¦s park on the fact that Jesus is the Creator.
We see it not only in this passage, but also from another passage in Colossians.
Colossians 1 says this:
COL 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Then we read in verse 19 ¡V
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.
This important because it says that Jesus is the Creator God. Jesus wasn¡¦t just a bystander, looking over everything and going, ¡§Way to go, God!¡¨
He was the Creator. He created the universe, including our planet, and this passage tells us that not only did He create them, He holds it all together.
Now is that awesome, or what? But that¡¦s just what makes this next fact so paradoxical, or opposite to what we would think is proper, and that is that¡K
2. Jesus entered His creation.
Huh? Well, look at our passage in John, picking it up in verse 10.
JN 1:10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
JN 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
There is a wonderful truth here.
Contrary to the belief of many, God did not just create everything, and then sit back and watch.
Jesus, the Creator, is actively involved in His creation, and particularly the portion of His creation that was created in His image. That¡¦s you and me, by the way.
The eternal, timeless One entered time. God, who is spirit, took on flesh. The one who created all things became subject to His creation.
The Bible says in Hebrews that in doing that He opened Himself up to everything you and I experience: pain, sorrow, joy, pride in a job well done, human love, rejection, and even temptation to sin.
Why would He do that? Was He just looking for something else to do?
¡§Okay, I¡¦ve got everything created for a while. Baseball season doesn¡¦t start for a couple thousand years yet, so what should I do to pass the time?¡¨
Why would He voluntarily take the form of a human? And why did He come as a helpless baby? Babies need to be fed, burped, changed, put down for naps, and all sorts of stuff.
Why would the Creator become someone so dependent on the kindness of others? He couldn¡¦t even talk in the beginning of His human life.
Can you imagine God Himself babbling and slobbering all over the place while He was teething?
Why did He do it?
Our passage in Matthew tells us why: He came so we could be saved from our sins.
And He didn¡¦t save us from our sins at Bethlehem, folks. He saved us from our sins at Calvary.
But Bethlehem had to come first.
How do we grasp all this? How can we really get our brains around this wonderful concept of God becoming a man?
The truth of the matter is that we can¡¦t. It¡¦s beyond our finite human comprehension.
One of the great things about God is His mystery. He chooses to let some things about Him remain a mystery, at least while we¡¦re on earth.
If God could be figured out, He wouldn¡¦t be God. He would just be like all other finite beings.
So don¡¦t worry that you can¡¦t grasp everything involved in this wonderful event of God becoming a man.
But now that you have this truth in front of you, that God did indeed become a man, you need to respond to Emmanuel, just as the world did when He came.
3. We need to respond to Emmanuel.
Look at verses 11-13 here in John 1:
11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God-- 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Some rejected Him, others received Him. But I want to expand on those a bit by giving you four possible responses.
„Y You can refuse to believe in Him.
You can choose to respond the same way His creation has responded from the beginning, starting from Adam.
That choice is up to you.
This reminds me of the sign I read about that was in front of a church at Christmas time:
¡§Merry Christmas to our Christian friends. Happy Hanukkah to our Jewish friends. And to our atheist friends, good luck.¡¨
SOURCE: Jeff Strite, Church of Christ at Logansport, Logansport, IN.
Contributed by: SermonCentral PRO
If you choose this response because of your inability to fully understand it, let me be frank and tell you I know how you feel.
I¡¦ve already mentioned that we can¡¦t understand it in our finite minds.
But let me caution you about something: just because we can¡¦t fully understand it, doesn¡¦t mean it didn¡¦t happen or that it¡¦s not possible. See where I¡¦m going here?
I don¡¦t understand gravity, but I know it¡¦s there and working. I know because my children still fall down and skin their knees.
If you¡¦re willing to at least consider the possibility that what we¡¦ve looked at is true, let me invite you to go to the second possible response, and that is that¡K
„Y You can search it out more before deciding to believe it.
This is an excellent option. Dig it out. God¡¦s not afraid of honest research. In fact, I think God probably wishes more people would do it, including Christians!
Now let me be honest. You¡¦ll still never get it all figured out, but you may gain an understanding that allows you to exercise option 3 in our list of possible responses, and that is this:
„Y You can receive this truth in faith, trusting that God¡¦s Word is true.
You come to a point where you just say, ¡§God, I don¡¦t quite get this. But Your Word says its true, so I¡¦m choosing to believe You instead of my limited mind. Help me to place my faith in You all the more.¡¨
Maybe you¡¦re doing this for the first time, and I pray that you will tell me so I can rejoice with you!
And the fourth response is for those who have already embraced what Christ accomplished in coming to earth:
„Y You can ask God to magnify your appreciation for this wonderful Christmas event.
To help you with that just a bit, allow me to read something from Max Lucado.
The announcement went first to the shepherds. They didn’t ask God if he was sure he knew what he was doing. Had the angel gone to the theologians, they would have first consulted their commentaries.
Had he gone to the elite, they would have looked around to see if anyone was watching. Had he gone to the successful, they would have first looked at their calendars.
So he went to the shepherds. Men who didn’t have a reputation to protect or an ax to grind or a ladder to climb. Men who didn’t know enough to tell God that angels don’t sing to sheep and that messiahs aren’t found wrapped in rags and sleeping in a feed trough.
A small cathedral outside Bethlehem marks the supposed birthplace of Jesus. Behind a high alter in the church is a cave, a little cavern lit by silver lamps.
You can enter the main edifice and admire the ancient church. You can also enter the quiet cave where a star embedded in the floor recognizes the birth of the King.
There is one stipulation, however. You have to stoop. The door is so low you can’t go in standing up.
The same is true of the Christ. You can see the world standing tall, but to witness the Savior, you have to get on your knees.
while the theologians were sleeping and the elite were dreaming and the successful were snoring, the meek were kneeling.
They were kneeling before the One only the meek will see.
They were kneeling in front of Jesus.
SOURCE: Max L. Lucado. Contributed by: SermonCentral PRO
Here¡¦s the wonderful mystery of Christmas: the Creator invaded His creation. He left His glory in heaven and came to a dusty, dirty planet filled with decay, hate, and despair.
And He did it for one reason: you.
He loved you so much that He came to earth, knowing what was ahead, because He would rather die than be separated from you for eternity.
1 John 4:9-10 says ¡V
9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
God did not have to do that. He could have stayed in heaven, let us die in our sins like we deserve, and still be just.
Instead, He chose to show His love for you and me, because He wants us with Him for eternity.
You need to understand that the purpose of Christmas wasn¡¦t just to give us a divine baby. The purpose of Christmas began in the womb of a teenage girl, and was fulfilled on a cruel cross.
Because you see, Jesus didn¡¦t come to be born, He came to die.
That¡¦s a little heavy for a Christmas message don¡¦t ¡¥cha think, Brian?
Maybe. I don¡¦t like to dwell on it, but it does need to be recognized.
In light of this, I want to offer you another possible response to Jesus ¡V Emmanuel, and it¡¦s this:
Accept His invitation to become a child of God. Our passage in John says that¡¦s why He came.
12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
God became a child so you could become a child of God.
So won¡¦t you call on Him today to forgive you for your sins, which He came to die for, and to give you a home in heaven?
If you¡¦ve never done that before, or maybe you did it a long time ago, but haven¡¦t really loved Christ as you should, let me invite you to do that this morning.
I¡¦m going to pray a prayer right now that you can pray with me to receive the gift of eternal life that Jesus came to give you.
Pray along with me in your heart, okay?
If you prayed that prayer with me today, I need to know. It would thrill my heart. I¡¦d like to pray with you, and I have some materials to give you that will help you in establishing that relationship with Christ.
And for all of us, may God reach inside us and give us a love for Him that we¡¦ve never had before. A love that infects everything we do as we prepare to celebrate the birth of our Savior ¡V Jesus, Emmanuel ¡V God with us.