Summary: Because God is with us, we don't have to live in fear, we are understood at the deepest level, and we can have our sins forgiven.
Immanuel - God with Us
Pastor Jefferson M. Williams
Chenoa Baptist Church
Losing Baby Jesus
Churches that have a nativity has been finding that it is hard to keep up with baby Jesus.
Several churches had their baby Jesus stolen last year. This year, they plan to fight back by placing a GPS locator inside baby Jesus.
At one Methodist church, the baby Jesus disappeared and was replaced with a pumpkin. But because they had a GPS chip in Jesus, they were able to find Him in the possession of a teenage girl who stole Him as a prank.
Here’s a thought - in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, isn’t it easy to loss track of the reason for the season? If we have lost Jesus in the story, is there a GPS to lead us back to Him?
Turn with me to Matthew 1.
Once Upon a Time?
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about:” (Matt 1:18)
Matthew begins his gospel with the genealogical record of Jesus in order to show that Jesus was from the line of David.
In the verses we will study this morning, Matthew will share with us the birth record of Jesus.
Notice how Matthew begins. He doesn’t say, “Once upon a time…”.
That’s how fairy tales begin. This is not a fairy tale. He is recording history.
“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about…” (Matthew 1:18a)
Matthew has an agenda in his gospel. He wants to help people, particularly Jewish people, to know that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah.
This term means the “Anointed One” or Savior. The Jewish people had been waiting for a long time for the Savior to come to save them.
There was great anticipation in those days for the coming of the Messiah. Matthew wants to make clear that the event that they had been waiting for has actually happened when a baby was born in a manger in Bethlehem.
Chad and Barbara Soper of the UK had their first baby Chloe on August 8th, 2008. Their second baby Cameron was born on September 9th, 2009.
Do you see where this is going?
Chloe was born on 08-08-08
Cameron was born on 09-09-09
And Cerrea Nicole was born…wait for it…on October 10th, 2010. Yep. 10-10-10!
The odds of this happening are 50 million to one! But those odds are small compared to the miraculous birth we will study today!
While the birth would happen like any other baby born, the conception was totally different story.
A Miraculous Conception
“His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” (Matt 1:18b)
Matthew introduces us to Jesus’ mother whose name is Mary. She was probably a young teenager who was “pledged to be married” to Joseph, a carpenter/mason who was probably a little bit older than her.
Although Mary and Joseph were not married yet, they were betrothed. This was different from our idea of “engagement” in that it was a legally binding agreement between the two families.
This pledge usually lasted a year during which the man would build a room on the side of the house for his new bride.
It was a time of testing, a time of abstinence. There had been no physical intimacy between the two when Mary was “found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”
Matthew reports this in such a matter of fact way! Luke gives us the details:
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”