Read Matthew 1:18-25
Have you ever witnessed a miracle? What was it?
The miracle I witnessed started on a Saturday afternoon. One of my family members had a blood vessel that started to bleed, leaving pools of blood on his brain. Arriving at the local hospital, he was transferred to the regional medical center where a CT scan revealed the pools. The neurosurgeon working that weekend said there was not much else to do but wait a few days and see what happened. A procedure to repair the bleeding vessel was scheduled for the middle of the next week. Midweek came and the procedure started, but there was no sign of a bleeding vessel. The neurosurgeon explained it this way, “This happens sometimes.” Sometimes, probably more than we realize, miracles happen.
Miracles capture everyone’s attention especially in the Christmas season. There are many Christmas shows and movies that have a miraculous theme. Miracles capture our attention, and the miracle of Christ’s birth is no exception. Jesus’ birth is widely studied and discussed as everyone tires to find the answer to the question of who is Jesus.
Conservatives and liberals agree Jesus existed. He made a mark in mankind’s history which cannot be erased. When it comes to his identity though, there is much disagreement. Ask who is Jesus, and you will receive numerous answers.
A college professor actually gave this assignment to his students. They were to ask twenty people the question who is Jesus. Here are just a few of the answers.
“A good guy.”
“A guy in history.”
“A guy in the Bible. What else is there to know?”
In the passage we read, Matthew answers the question who is Jesus. He explicitly states Jesus is God with us to save us.
POINT 1: God with Us
Matthew 1:23 qoutes the prophet Isaiah (7:14) and says, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.”
The idea of God being with us is not a new thought. From the very beginning, God has been with us. We see him walking in the cool of the day with Adam in the Garden of Eden. The perfection of this communion was destroyed by sin, so God placed himself at a distance in the Holy of Holies. That is, until Christmas. He fully and completely came to be with us on Christmas.
Paul says in Philippians, Christ, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasp, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant (2:6-8).
In his Gospel, John says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God. He was with God in the beginning (1:1-2). John goes on in verse 4 saying, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” Verse 14 says, “”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.
The Creator became the creation to save it. You see, Jesus is God with us. God with us – to save us?
POINT 2: To Save Us
Yes, to save us. The angel tells Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “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.”
Jesus is the New Testament form of the name Joshua. There is an Old Testament book named Joshua, which delineates the leader helping God’s people by leading them out of the wilderness into the land of Canaan. Jesus came to lead us out of the wilderness of sin into our land of Canaan, which is freedom in his grace. Jesus came on Christmas to save us.
2 Corinthians 8:9 says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes, he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” Jesus came to save us.
Some challenge this fact by trying to claim Jesus can’t save us because he doesn’t understand us. The Bible says otherwise. In the first seventeen verses of his Gospel, Matthew gives us Jesus’ genealogy and helps us start to see how well Jesus relates to us. The individuals listed in the genealogy of Jesus are not powerful and perfect. They are ordinary and normal folks just like you and me. They are Jews and Gentiles. They are men and women with diverse backgrounds and stories. They are individuals with struggles the same as people today.
Look at Mary and Joseph. This is a young couple engaged to be married. They discover they are facing what society would term an untimely pregnancy. Their home may not be ready; they may not be ready to be parents, but they are having a baby. A short time after Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph are forced to flee to Egypt and hide to save Jesus’ life. This is not an ideal situation. By the very way Jesus enters the world, he says he understands us.
His birth is not the only way Jesus says he understands us. Matthew 4 tells us Jesus was tempted in every way. Tempted by this, tempted by that, Jesus was too which leads the writer of Hebrews to assert, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathsize with our weaknesses, we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
Jesus comes understanding us to save us. The Gospels are full of examples of Jesus saving. He provides sight to those who can’t see; he provides hearing to those who can’t hear. One lady was healed by touching the edge of his garment while in a large crowd. Jesus brought Lazarus out of the tomb. Jesus is with us to heal us, to save us.
ACTION STEP: We Have to Decide
C.S. Lewis has said Jesus was either telling the truth about his identity or he was a lunatic. A man running around claiming to be God in the flesh is either telling the truth or is a lunatic. No one in his right mind would make such a claim unless it was true. We have to decide.
Who is Jesus? He is God with us to save us.
Thus, the IVP New Testament Commentary says, by the cross, we are invited to worship a God who accepted the ultimate volunerability. Jesus was born as an infant to poor and humiliated parents; into a world who was hostile to his presence. His oppressors must hate such a God for his abandonment of power for love is contrary to everything they believe. But the broken and depressed find in him a God they can trust in a world where trust is dangerous. Of all the world’s faiths, Christianity is the only one who presents a God who shares in our pain.
CONCLUSION: Paul Harvey’s The Man and the Birds
There was a good man. He tried to do everything right. He was a good father and husband. He had a good reputation in the community. He was just a good man.
He could not wrap his mind around Jesus’ birth, the miracle of Christmas. After all, God coming to earth as a man seemed out of touch to him. One Christmas Eve the man decided he was not going to attend the church service that evening. He told his wife he was not going to go, but he would wait up for her.
He hugged his wife goodbye closing the door behind her. As he did, he noticed it was snowing, so he stood at the window gazing at the snow’s beauty for a few minutes before returning to his chair beside the fireplace.
He was startled a few minutes later by a thud, thud, thud, against the side of the house. He thought someone was throwing snowballs against the side of the house so he ran to the window. He did not find someone throwing snowballs rather he found a flock of birds huddled together in the snow. They were actually flying into the window trying to break it in an attempt to escape the cold for the warmth of the house.
The man thought to himself, “I can’t let those poor creatures freeze. I have to do something.” He quickly put on his shoes and coat and headed into the snow. He walked in the snow to open the barn doors. The birds didn’t notice though.
He turned the light on hoping the brightness of the barn opening would lure the birds to the warmth and safety of his barn. No success though. The birds still didn’t understand.
Dismayed, the man thought. “Maybe if I feed them, they will follow the food trail to the barn.” He ran inside gathering food and began scattering it across the snow to the opening of the barn. The birds didn’t follow the trail to the barn.
He tried shooing the birds, but that didn’t work. The birds just scattered in all directions not into the barn. The man was dismayed and discouraged at this point.
“What am I going to do?” He thought, “Everything I do is just going to scare the birds. They are afraid of me. If only I was one of them.” The man thought again, “If only I was a bird, I could get their attention and show them how to fly into the barn. If only I was one of them….”
In that moment, the clock on the church clanged midnight, and the bells began playing a Christmas song. The man immediately sank to his knees in the snow.
He had it. The man understood God is with us to save us. God left everything to become one of us to save us. God is with me to save me.