God With Us
18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: 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. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.
20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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.”
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
Jesus is called Immanuel (Emmanuel).
This term is not a proper name. It’s like the term Christ. Jesus’ was called Jesus of Nazareth, or he would have been called Jesus Ben Joseph or Jesus Bar Joseph, which means son of. The first name is the proper name.
Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew word Messiah. Christ means Savior or deliverer.
Immanuel means literally God with us. And it has practical and historical significance to the Jewish people!
Let’s look at Immanuel one word at a time.
- God With Us
- Jesus Christ is God
The biggest problem with God for us is that we do not see Him like we do other people or things. Because of this it requires faith to relate to Him properly. The Bible tells us that it has not always been this way. In the Garden, man “walked with God in the cool of the day” but because of sin, Adam and Eve were removed from the Garden, separated from the presence of God and prevented from re-entry. It is obvious that the idea behind the end of the Book of Revelation is a resolution to that direct presence of God. We are going back to God.
Well, because we do not see God, people struggle to perceive Him properly. This is the reason for all of the different religions and religious ideas about what God is like and how to relate to Him.
Jesus is the resolution of all of this for those who receive Him as He is claimed to be!
John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[f] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,
John 14: 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also.[d] From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
Jesus Christ showed the Apostles what God the Father was like and they have conveyed that information to us in the New Testament. What is the significance of that?
- We know what God is like
Colossians 1: 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
We know God’s will because of Jesus
We know how to walk in a manner worthy of God because of Jesus
We know how to live in a manner that pleases God because of Jesus
We have found our life’s purpose. We have found the image of God that we are to reflect! We have found Immanuel!
- God With Us
- Is God for us or against us?
Because we live in a sinful world, the answer to this is not simple. Good things happen to bad people, bad things happen to good people. How can we know if God is for us or not?
- Jesus proves God’s love
For God so loved
God gave his only begotten Son
Whoever believes in His only begotten Son
Will have life both now and forever!
The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. The three parables: lost coin, lost sheep, lost Son.
- The Tabernacle presence
The burning bush. The pillar of fire and cloud. The presence filling the tabernacle. The fourth man in the fiery furnace. God shows up and when He does He does things only He can do. This is Jesus for us. God has shown up in history. It’s not just a story, it is actual history. God has become a man. He is God with us.
Romans 8: 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The circumstances of our lives does not determine the quality of our lives. The only thing that matters is the presence and power of God in our lives. Immanuel, God is WITH us!!
Story of God speaking to me the night my mother died. It was just a gift for me.
III. God With Us!
- Who qualifies as us?
Shepherds and Magi! To whom is the birth of Jesus announced and why? Shepherds were chronically unclean. They were excluded from the temple. They were excluded from God’s presence and word. They are excluded.
Magi: they are foreigners. They believe strange things. They look at the stars, they are astrologers to see what is going to happen. And yet, God speaks to them, and He speaks to them about Jesus.
In Matthew’s gospel this is a major theme. I wonder why that would be?! What does Matthew’s occupation tell us about his personal experience with Jesus?
So in Matthew’s gospel, the Magi are the first to seek Jesus! The Centurion who is a foreigner is the one with the great faith!
“Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. 11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.
And the centurion at the cross is the first to confess faith in the Crucified Christ!
It is not goodness that brings God to us, but it is whether or not we accept who Jesus truly is!
John 1: 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,
- Us with God
The point of God revealing Himself to people is so we might follow Jesus! It’s not so we can answer theological questions on a test that we will take in heaven. All of your life is the test. Will we trust in Jesus Christ for our life? Will we follow Jesus?
Again in Colossians 1: 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;