Sunday, December 21, 2014

[Matt's Messages] "They Will Call Him Immanuel"

“They Will Call Him Immanuel”
December 21, 2014
Matthew 1:18-25

Put yourself in Joseph's shoes.

Matthew tells us the story of Jesus’ birth from the manly perspective of a perplexed guy named Joseph.

Joseph thought that he and his folks had found the perfect girl to be his wife.  And he had all but married her.  In their culture, the betrothal was as binding as marriage, it just wasn’t yet publically celebrated or privately consummated.

And then this happened!

V.18 “She was found to be with child...” Mary was showing.  And he knew it wasn’t his little bump.  It couldn’t be!  How embarrassing.  How shameful.

Righteous Joseph had a difficult choice to make.  Should he raise a stink and have her disgraced and destroyed?

Or should he divorce her quietly and show compassion?

Of course, it would be unthinkable to marry her! That would send the message that he had not waited either and that the child was his after all.  He would be admitting and taking responsibility wrongfully.

But good old Joseph was both righteous and compassionate. He decided to do a private divorce and then try to pick up the pieces of his ruined reputation.

But that night, after he had made his decision and put his head on the pillow–Joseph had a visitor!

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.

And what that angel said made all of the difference in the world to Joseph.

The angel announced the coming of Christmas.

In fact, the angel told Joseph the essential meaning of Christmas in just two key words.

If someone was to ask you what Christmas is all about, what would you say?

What if you only had time to give them 2 words? Not 140 characters like a Tweet on Twitter, but just 2 words. What 2 would you pick?

Presents and Family?
Trees and Cookies?
Santa and Snow?
Tinsel and Eggnog?

This angel told Joseph the essential meaning of Christmas in two key words, really two names of Christ: Jesus and Immanuel.

We’re going look at both this morning, but I want to especially focus on Immanuel.

Our sermon title for today is from verse 23, “They Will Call Him Immanuel.”

Let’s look at the name “Jesus” first.

Look at verse 20.

“[A]n angel of the Lord appeared to [Joseph] in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife [there is no disgrace here], because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. [God is doing something special, something miraculous, something holy!]  She will give birth to a son [an angelic ultrasound!], and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

Christmas is coming, and it’s coming in the form of a little baby, a son.

And this son is to have the name Jesus.

Now if you have the New International Version, it has a footnote for the name “Jesus” in verse 21.  We are used to the name “Jesus,” but we don’t always recognize what it meant in the original language.

The NIV footnote says, “Jesus is the Greek form of Joshua, which means the LORD saves.”  That’s why the angel says, “give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

“Jesus” Means God Saves His People.

This little boy who is going to be born will be a savior.  He will be a deliverer.

He will be a rescuer.

“Jesus” Means God Saves His People.

That’s what Christmas is all about–a Savior has come.

A savior from what?

From the oppression of the Romans?

What does it say (v.21)?

“He will save His people from their sins.”

Did your know that your greatest enemy is not your problems?
Your greatest enemy is not your fears.
Our greatest enemy is not your earthly enemies like Korean dictators or ISIS terrorists.
Did you know that your greatest enemy is not even Satan, the enemy of God?

No.  Your and my greatest threat to our eternal joy is our sins.

As we’ve been learning in Romans, our sin separates us from God and makes us His enemies. It earns us His righteous wrath.

And there is nothing you and I can do about it on our own.

We are, by nature, dead in our transgressions and sins.

And dead people can’t earn their way back.

We can’t rescue ourselves.  We can’t bring ourselves back to life.

But God in His mercy has sent a Savior for us!

And His name is “Jesus.”  “God saves His people.”

Here’s how He did it.  Jesus lived a perfect life.  He never sinned.  He lived in perfect obedient communion with His heavenly Father.

And then one day, He took on our sin for us.  And He died in our place on the Cross.

The Bible says, “Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

And then three days later, He came back from the dead to give us forgiveness of sins and new life!

That’s why the ahe angels said to the shepherds, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord.”

“Jesus” Means God Saves His People.


#1.  Trust Jesus to Save You From Your Sins.

Jesus came to save, and He invites you to trust Him today.

The Bible says that to those who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God.

It is not automatic.  It requires repentance and faith on our part.

You cannot earn this salvation, but you must receive it by faith.

Have you come to trust in Jesus as your Savior?

If you haven’t already, trust Jesus to Save You From Your Sins.

Right where you are.  Tell Him right now that you need Him and that you want Him to be your Savior and your Lord.

You will be eternally grateful.

And that’s a second application.

#2. Thank Jesus For Saving You From Your Sins!

Many many of us here today are Christians already. And we need to remember that the greatest gift ever given at Christmas was the gift of our salvation.

Let’s not forget that the baby in the manger didn’t come to be ooh and ahhed over.

He came to die for us.

“Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

“Jesus” Means God Saves His People from Their Sins.

Have you thanked God for this gift today?  We should be the most thankful people at Christmastime!

The angel told Joseph that Mary was going to have a son and they were to give Him the name, “Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

But that’s not all!

This was also an astonishing fulfillment of an ancient prophecy.  V.22

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’–which means, ‘God with us.’”

Matthew does the translating for us here.  He says Immanuel means “God with us.”

“Immanuel” Means God Is With His People.

This was the passage we studied last week in Isaiah 7 and 8. Specifically, it’s Isaiah 7:14.

And I know that last week I surprised a number of you with what I said was going on in Isaiah 7:14.

My interpretation of that passage led me to believe that the first fulfillment of Immanuel was probably Isaiah’s son Maher-Shallel-Hash-Baz – “Quick to the plunder and swift to the spoil.”

He was born of a young prophetess and before he could said, “Mama and Dada,” the threat that King Ahaz was worried about would have been neutralized. A sign that the LORD was with His people Israel.

But that’s not all that that prophecy pointed to!

Remember last week how God offered for Ahaz to ask Him for a BIG sign?

And how God told Ahaz that there were no limits on that sign?  “Whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights” (Isa 7:11).

And Ahaz foolishly refused to test the Lord.

Well, the first fulfillment of that sign was probably not a big deal. Pretty ordinary for a young maiden to get married and have a baby, even with a name like Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.

But what if there was more to it?

What if when the LORD said that a “virgin will be with child,” he actually meant that eventually a VIRGIN will be with child?!

The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 could be just a young maiden of marriageable age, but it could also mean someone who has never ever had sexual relations.

And the Greek word used in both the Septuagint (the Greek translation of Isaiah 7:14) and in Matthew’s Gospel right here in verse 23 is almost always used to mean a young woman who has never ever had sexual relations.

You see Matthew sees that there is something bigger going on.

The angel said that in verse 20 that there is a miracle here.

Mary has never been with a man, but she is pregnant.

“What is conceived in here is from the Holy Spirit.”

And Matthew sees clearly that this took place to fully fulfill Isaiah 7:14.

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.”

The Greater Immanuel, the Greatest Immanuel is coming!

You see Immanuel was a pattern. The first Immanuel was a sign that God was with His people, Israel.

But the Greater Immanuel, the Greatest Immanuel has come not only to be a sign but to be the literal fulfillment of His name.

Because in Jesus, God is TRULY WITH US.

Jesus Christ was not just an earthly savior who came to deliver people from their sins.

Jesus Christ was (and is!) God Himself come to Earth an entering into humanity!

We sang about it this morning:

Veiled in Flesh, the Godhead See
Hail, the Incarnate Deity (The “in flesh” Deity!)
Pleased as Man With Men to Dwell
Jesus, Our Immanuel

You see, Immanuel wasn’t his name like “Jesus” was.

Immanuel is a title, to describe the essence of Who Jesus was and is.

He is God With His People.

This whole Christmas Season we’ve been thinking together about what that means.  Advent Readings, Last week’s sermon, this week’s sermon, and again on Christmas Eve.

Think about what Immanuel means:

It means that God has walked on Earth as a man.

It means that God understands everything that we humans go through–experientially!

It means that because He was God He could infinitely pay for our sin debt against an infinite holy God.  In other words, because He was Immanuel He could be Jesus–our Savior.

It means that God could reveal Himself fully in language we understand–the language of humanity, of personal experience, of human love and sacrifice.

It means that ours is a “visited planet.”  We are not alone.  There is a Creator who made us and cares about us.  Life is not meaningless.

It means that humanity is not just a insignificant class of primates wandering around aimlessly on this planet. Instead we are a significant class of beings, created in the image of God, and blessed by our Creator's humility to take our form.  We among the creatures of the universe have a dignity that is unheard of, because God became one of us.  Because God was with us!

Do you feel alone this Christmas Season?

As we said last week, Christmas is often a hard time for people.  Winter has come.  It gets darker earlier.  Financial burdens pile up.  People get lonely.  We miss loved-ones who have died.

Do you feel alone this Christmas Season?

You are not alone if you know Immanuel.

The most important person in the universe is with you.  And for you.

You are not alone.

God is with you.



#3.  Live Like God Is Truly With You!

Because He is.

I know many Christians who live no differently than the other people around them.

They live in fear.
They live in anxiety.
They live in anger.
They live in attack mode.
They live in lying mode.
They live in revenge mode.
They live in impurity.
They live in foolishness.

I know, because I have lived there many times myself.

We often live as if God was not with us.

We live in defeat and discouragement and denial.

But we don’t have to.


God is with us!

God is here.

God has saved us through His Son.

We can live differently!

We can live as though God were with us because Immanuel has come.

We don’t have to live in anger or fear.
We don’t have to live in impurity or anxiety.
We don’t have to live in bitterness.
We don’t have to live in foolishness.

We can live differently!

We can live as though God were with us because Immanuel has come.

We can live in joy.
We can live in peace.
We can live in increasing harmony with others.
We can live in hope.
We can live in edifying speech.
We can live in wise choices.

Because God is with us.

And if God is with us, who can be against us?

Matthew makes one small change from the original when he quotes Isaiah 7:14. The rest of the verse is exactly the same as the original, but instead of saying that the virgin will name her son Immanuel, it says, “They” will call Him Immanuel.

And I think the “they” there is US. It’s God’s people.

Now that God has come to us in the person of Jesus, we can confidently say, “Immanuel.”


God is with us.

Let’s live like it.

One more application of both of these names together.

#4.  This Christmas, Tell Others about Jesus, Our Immanuel.

Joseph woke up from his dream. He obeyed God and did what the angel said to do.  He took Mary home as his wife, absorbing the shame that would naturally come from that.

And he abstained until she gave birth to the son–which we celebrate this week. And he adopted the boy and gave him the name “Jesus.”

What the angel said made all the difference in the world to Joseph.

The angel said two words: Jesus and Immanuel.

And that made all the difference in the world to Joseph.

And it makes all the difference in the world to you and me.

And it will make all the difference in the world to those you tell!

Tell Others About Jesus, Our Immanuel.

Friends, Neighbors, Co-Workers, Family, and Strangers.

Everyone needs to hear this message.

Everyone needs to hear the essential meaning of Christmas: Jesus, Our Immanuel.

Jesus: God Saves His People.
Immanuel: God Is With His People.

This Christmas, Tell Others About Jesus, Our Immanuel.