Summary: Discovering the importance of the title, "Emmanuel", and how it applies to us today
Context of Scripture: Matthew 1:23 is a prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 when Isaiah spoke with the wicked King Ahaz after that Pekah, king of Israel and Rezin, king of Syria had attacked Judah. Pekah had killed 120,000 valiant men of Judah in one day, and had taken 200,000 captives back to Samaria. It appeared imminent that Judah would fall and the House of David would be no more.
King Ahaz in his wicked condition would not ask a sign of the Lord, even when prompted to do so by the prophet Isaiah. And so, Isaiah confidently says to Ahaz that God would give him a sign: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The hope contained in those words could be translated to say, “These two kings shall not prevail against Judah. I won’t let them destroy the House of David, because of the Promised Branch that shall come.”
God was preventing 1) the destruction of the House of David, because of the promises made to David so many generations before but, 2) He was not relying on Ahaz, who estranged himself from God, worshipped idols even casting his own children to the fire in the Valley of Hinnom in his worship of false gods, and closing the House of God in Jerusalem.
GOD WAS GIVING A SIGN IN THE MIDST OF GROSS MORAL AND SPIRITUAL WICKEDNESS WHEN HOPELESSNESS PREVAILED, SHOUTING TO ALL—DELIVERANCE IS COMING IN A MOST AMAZING WAY!
How can God make such claims? Because of the provision He made—sending His own Son to us, Emmanuel, “God with us”.
Intro: Although this birth was a miracle (the Kenosis) of a miracle (termed the Immaculate Conception by some), [the Greek oth-“miraculous” something “which exceeds the power of nature to produce” (taken from Clark Commentary)], not all men welcomed the birth of the Infinite God cloaked in finite flesh.
I. Men’s Actions toward Emmanuel:
a. The ANTAGONISTIC: Herod the Great, upon the arrival of the Magi, feigns to seek to worship the Child, in an effort to destroy Him. (Matt 2:8)
b. The APATHETIC:
i. The chief priests among the Jews, those responsible for leading public worship.
ii. The scribes, those versed in the OT Scriptures, and even knew the birthplace of the coming Messiah were indifferent.
iii. They were not seeking Him at all, and even with news from the Magi, make no effort to seek Him out. (Matt 2:4)
c. The ATTENTIVE:
i. The Magi devoted their lives to seeking out and worshipping the true King of Israel, despite obstacles.
ii. They bring him gifts of great sacrifice
1. Gold: to represent His Majesty (Divinity) – reference Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream of the Image/Daniel’s interpretation
2. Frankincense: to represent His Ministry (as High Priest) – the priests offered incense at the oblation.
3. Myrrh: to represent His Mission (His sacrifice) – bitter herb; it was myrrh given to Christ while on the Cross.
II. Emmanuel’s Action Toward Men: Reasons Why Emmanuel Came
i. To be our COUNSELOR: He clothed Himself in lowly flesh, and in so doing, experienced life as a man.
1. He hungered
2. He thirsted
3. He felt the sting of rejection
4. He felt alone and forsaken
5. He suffered at the hands of others/for others
6. He was in all points tempted like as we are…
7. HE UNDERSTANDS US!
Illus: [adapted from illustration on SermonCentral.com]
In the late 1800’s on one of the islands of Hawaii, called Molokai, the people of that island had resigned them signed to utter defeat and due to this hopelessness, they engaged in drunkenness, immorality and abusive behavior. These islanders had one thing in common: they were banished by the authorities in Hawaii to this island because the highly contagious incurable disease called leprosy had seized their flesh and with it, all hope was vanquished from their soul.
It was compassion for these very people that constrained a Catholic priest named Father Damien to move to this island in 1873 to spend his life ministering to these people. He built hospitals, clinics, churches and even some 600 coffins during his ministry there, while ever trying to persuade these people that God had not forsaken them.
In church gatherings, Father Damien would stand and lovingly address his parish with these words, “my dear brethren,” but one morning in 1885, a dozen years after his arrival at the age of 45, in a calm clear voice, instead of “my dear brethren” he began his address with “my fellow lepers…” He had become one of them, and in becoming one of them also answered with great authority the question, “Where is God?” In the midst of us.
Such was the wondrous Answer with which God bathed the earth in hope when he sent the Son of God to become the Son of Man. HE CAN COMFORT US, BECAUSE HE KNOWS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE ONE OF US.