“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). – Matthew 1:23 (NIV)
God is with us indeed! This passage comes just after we see Joseph struggling with the idea of his wife having been with another man. Think about that! There was no precedent for such a thing… aside from an old prophesy in the writings of Isaiah… who has heard of a virgin conceiving without what would have been the ultimate betrayal to Joseph in his betrothal to Mary.
So here we see an angel come to comfort and reassure Joseph, explaining that Mary was indeed being used by God to give birth to Immanuel, the Son of God, God with us. God… With… Us… and with the coming of the Holy Spirit and the covering of Jesus blood, that is indeed what every person that believes in the name of Jesus has been given! We celebrate Christmas today because God is with us. We rejoice in the fact that God’s plans to redeem are being fulfilled through Christ. How frightened Mary and Joseph must have been! Yet, in just 33 years, Jesus would be dying on the cross, rising from the grave, and conquering death. Sin would no longer have power over each and every one of us. The beginning of the end for sin starts here with the birth of Christ. It is time to celebrate!
In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” 15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” 16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. – Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)
Grab your family or find a cozy spot with just you and Jesus to read through Luke 2:1-20. If you have heard this story dozens of times, pause a moment, and read it with fresh eyes. Read it like it is your first time experiencing this passage of scripture. Imagine the wonder of this moment! Imagine being Joseph, Mary, or one of the shepherds. Imagine yourself there in that place… witnessing what had been foretold in prophesy for hundreds of years… the coming of God incarnate… the messiah… the perfect Lamb! Wonderful… Counselor… everlasting father… prince of peace… all wrapped up in those swaddling cloths and resting in a manger in the most humble form of a baby. Consider what a momentous moment in history this is. Stay there for a moment… and remain a moment more… Now as you leave, what is God speaking to you? How is this gift impacting you? How can you share that with those around you?
1 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. – Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)
Last year, Westside went through these powerful names that are given to Christ. If you were not with us last year (or if you don’t remember what these names were) we want to encourage you to go back on our website and check out these powerful messages. From this passage we know that Christ is a:
-Wonderful Counselor: Christ is with us. Being fully human, He knows what we go through on this earth. Go to Him in your struggles and hurts.
-Mighty God: Though fully human, Christ was still fully God! Spend this Christmas in awe at who He truly is and the power He has over the Earth.
-Everlasting Father: This also shows the power that Christ has. He is everlasting. Just as important as dying on the cross, Jesus rose from the grave! He is with us to the end of time.
-Prince of Peace: Through Christ, there will be no more pain, no more sin, no more suffering. Revelation tells us that when Christ comes again, there will be a renewing of the Earth, and all of His followers will be with Him. Let this comfort you and give you peace.
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. – Matthew 1:21 (NIV)
We have been saved from our sins! What a powerful phrase, yet so hard for each of us to understand sometimes. We live in a world where you can be held accountable for any little wrong. We hold grudges against our closest friends and family members. Yet Jesus, the most perfect person to walk this Earth, has saved us. God no longer holds us accountable to our sins as long as we have faith in Christ Jesus. Through Him, we are saved!
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! – John 1:29 (NIV)
Imagine being born for the sole purpose of being a sacrifice. That was the situation Jesus was walking into. From the beginning, Jesus’ mission was clear; He was going to take away the sins of the world. This phrase ties all the way back to Genesis 22, where Abraham is called to sacrifice Isaac. At the end of the day, God stops Abraham just in time, providing him with a ram to sacrifice. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus in anguish over the coming of his suffering prays “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) But with Jesus, there was no alternative. God was providing one last lamb for Israel (and now all of humanity). Jesus Christ was the final and perfect lamb sent to redeem each and every one of us. Jesus willingly surrendered to the will of the father in becoming that Lamb for sacrifice. At this time of advent take time to “behold” the coming of the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.