Summary: Christmas series on why Jesus came to earth.
Matthew 1:22-23 – Messiah Mission #3: Operation Sympathize
Today we will be finishing our Christmas sermon series that I have entitled The Messiah Mission. What was Jesus’ mission, as revealed in the birth stories about how He came to earth? What do the Christmas stories tell us about Jesus’ purposes for coming to earth?
Two weeks ago we saw that Messiah Mission #1 was Operation Salvation. He came to rescue us. Last week we saw that Messiah Mission #2 was Operation Sovereignty. He came to rule us. This week we will look at Messiah Mission #3, called Operation Sympathize. He came to relate with us.
I’d like to read to you from Matthew 1:22-23. These verses say this: All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “A virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him “Emmanuel”, which means, “God with us”.
That’s what Christmas is really all about, and the point that maybe gets missed the most: that God came near, that the almighty Creator became small and weak, that the King of Glory wrapped Himself in rags and flesh. God was no longer some distant cosmic being, but a little human baby.
Now, I suppose there were other ways for God to speak to us. He had been doing that for years. Through prophets and visions, through miracles, signs, and wonders. Through voices and writing. Through many ways and various times. But actually to become a person… well, that seems a bit over the top. One Christmas song pictures a group of angels discussing God’s method, and called it a strange way to save the world.
But if you think of it, isn’t it perfect? I mean, what is one very common way that we complain? Don’t we often say, “Oh, if you only knew what I was going though…” Or, “If you only knew what it felt like…” Or, “If you could understand my point of view…” You know… if only God knew what I was going through! Christmas reveals to us, He does.
“Emmanuel” means “God is with us”. God came near. God became fully human while at the same time remaining fully divine. It is not some distant God that we serve, some far-off being that doesn’t understand us, but He knows exactly what we go through.
Are you tired? God understands. John 4:6 says that Jesus was tired from His journey. Have you ever been hungry? God understands. Matthew 4:2 says that Jesus hungered. Have you ever thirsted? God understands. John 19:28 says that Jesus was thirsty. Have you ever been sad? God understands. Matthew 26:38 says that Jesus was sad, even to the point that His soul was overwhelmed with it. Have you ever cried? God understands. John 11:35 says that Jesus wept. Have you ever been tempted to do what is wrong? God understands.
Let me read to you Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” The KJV says, “We do not have a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities.”
That verse says that our High priest, the one who makes things right for us between us and God, is able to sympathize with us. He is able to understand what we go through, and to feel compassion for us when it happens. From birth to death, God understands what we go through.
I have 2 stories for you, one true and one a parable. Both these stories show us what Messiah Mission #3: Operation Sympathize means.
It was 1741, and an old man was wandering the streets of London. His name was George Frederick Handel. At this point, he was angry at life. His mind kept going back to the time when he was famous and had the applause of royalty and the elite of London. But now his mind was full of despair and hopelessness about the future, for the applause was gone. Others were now in the spotlight and envy began to possess him. Added to that, a cerebral hemorrhage paralyzed his right side. He could no longer write, and doctors gave little hope for recovery. The old composer traveled to France and began to soak in the baths which were said to have healing effects. The hot mineral baths seemed to help, and his health began to improve. Eventually, he was able to write once more, and his success returned.
But then he faced another reversal. Queen Caroline, who had been his staunch supporter, died. England found itself on hard economic times, and heating large auditoriums for concerts was not permitted. His performances were canceled, and he began to wonder where God was.