Immanuel: God With Us Series
Contributed by Thomas Clawser on Dec 31, 2016 (message contributor)
Summary: The Importance of the Incarnation
During President Ronald Reagan’s 1979 presidential campaign, a woman of about 80 spoke out from the audience at the end of one of his campaign speeches. "Mr. Reagan, everything you’ve said sounds just fine. But what about the old folks? Haven’t you forgotten us?" The man who was to become the oldest president of the United States smiled down at her and replied, "Forget you? Heavens, how could I ever forget you? I am one of you."
1. During the seasons of Advent and Christmas, we celebrate the incarnation; when Christ, the second person of the Trinity came to earth as a human being. We sing songs, hear sermons, watch dramas and participate in pageants that herald the birth of this Christ child.
2. It’s important, however, that we consider the significance of the incarnation for those who belong to Christ. In other words, what does the incarnation mean for us?
3. This evening, with help from the writer of Hebrews, we examine the importance of the incarnation to those of us living as Christians in the 21st century. OYBT to Hebrews 2.
Christ experienced life as we do: with its pain, disappointment, grief and fear. “God with us” means we can live without grief or fear—Christ has conquered all that troubles us. He cannot forget us, because he is one of us. Let’s consider three gifts we received from the incarnation.
II. HE BECAME ONE OF US (2:10-13)
1. It was fitting. . .a phrase used nowhere else in the NT, introduces the idea that the author (pioneer, champion) of our salvation was made perfect through suffering.
A. Christ is already perfect; perfection in this context means that through the incarnation God perfected (teleiw?sai) his redemptive plan (completed).
B. Christ becomes the perfect Savior—fully divine and fully human. The One in whom God’s redemptive plan is fulfilled.
2. Apart from the incarnation, Jesus’ challenge to “follow me” holds no compulsion for would-be Christians. We can easily ignore the words of one who has no idea what earthly life is like. How can he know what it is like for us?
3. We can follow Christ because we are part of his family. He became one of us so that giving his life would have meaning to those whose own days are numbered by their Creator.
He became one of us. “God with us” means we can live without grief or fear—Christ has conquered all that troubles us. He cannot forget us, because he is one of us.
III. HE FACED DEATH FOR US (14-15)
1. People fear nothing more than death. How appropriate that God would send Christ as a human to face death as we face it. When Jesus challenges Peter on his willingness to die for him, he does it knowing of what he speaks.
2. Jesus challenges his disciples to “deny [yourself], take up [your] cross and follow me”. This means following him even to death if required of them. Who would accept a Savior who demands that others do what he is not willing to do himself?
3. Jesus shared our humanity in his death, to destroy him who holds power over death (Satan) and free those whose lives are held in slavery by their fear of death.
4. Christ is eternal; he has no beginning and no end. He was not born nor would he have died apart from God’s desire to redeem his people. People fear death when we have no hope beyond it. Christ came to earth in human form as Jesus, to face and conquer death in order that he will be the perfect Savior for his people.
He faced death for us. “God with us” means we can live without grief or fear—Christ has conquered all that troubles us. He cannot forget us, because he is one of us.
IV. HE INTERCEDES FOR US (16-18)
1. He became like us in order to become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God. To understand this analogy, we must understand the role of the high priest.
A. The high priest is responsible for the Tabernacle, its daily offerings and functions and also its regular Feasts, three times in the year: at Passover, Pentecost and Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (which is followed by a week of joy in the Feast of Tabernacles, cf. Leviticus 23).
B. On the Day of Atonement, the high priest's responsibility is to take the blood of the sacrificed goat into the Holy of Holies on behalf of God's people, for forgiveness of their sins.
2. In this brief but wonderful passage, we see Christ as the high priest, who alone makes atonement for the sins of the people. Never again shall the blood of animals make atonement for sin. Christ alone stands as high priest and everlasting sacrifice.