UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
With Us, Week 1
Sunday, December 4, 2016
The the message of Christmas is that God isn’t just for you, He is with you.
In his letter to the church in Rome, the Apostle Paul wrote, “If God is for us, who can stand against us.” God is for you. But not from a distance.
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”). – Matthew 1:20-23 (#675)
- You will name Him Jesus (The Lord Saves) – people will call Him Immanuel (God with us)
- Joseph responds – sticks with Mary – doesn’t consummate the marriage until after Jesus’ birth
Matthew reminds his audience that Jesus’ virgin birth fulfilled an OT promise. It’s found in chapter seven of the Old Testament book of Isaiah (#477)
- Israel divided into two kingdoms (North = Israel, South = Judah) – Ahaz was the king of Judah – the king of Israel made a deal with the king of Aram to help him attack the southern kingdom of Judah
- When Ahaz and his court heard they were terrified – God sends Isaiah to talk to Ahaz – Isaiah’s message: “Keep calm and don’t be afraid” – Ask God for a sign – Ahaz: I don’t want to – God: You didn’t ask for a sign, but I’m going to give you one anyway: Someday a virgin is going to give birth to a child and you will call him Immanuel, which means “God with us.”
- For Ahaz, it was the promise of deliverance from his oppressors, for us it is the promise of deliverance from all oppression
- The story of the Bible is not about man’s desire to be with God, it is the story of God’s desire to be with man
- “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. – Revelation 21:3 (#872)
- The most frequent promise in the Bible: “I am with you”
The miracle of Christmas isn’t that a group of angels appeared to some stunned shepherds to announce Christ’s birth. It’s not that there was a supernatural astronomical event as a star led a group of eastern mystics to Jesus’ birthplace. The miracle of Christmas is Immanuel – God with us. That God entered into the human experience.
- Because Jesus became “God with us” He understands our experience
- You think: I want to follow Christ and do the right thing, but it’s so hard:
- Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. – Hebrews 2:18 (#839)
- For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. – Hebrews 4:15 (#840)
- We think: Life’s so difficult. How could God let this happen to me:
- He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. – Isaiah 53:3 (#511)
- Jesus wept. – John 11:35 (#749)
- We think: I feel so alone. Where is God when I really need Him?
- About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). – Matthew 27:46 (#697)
Shakespeare wrote: “He jests at scars who never felt a wound.” That’s not Jesus. He’s known wounding. He’s known loneliness. He’s experienced profound grief. And He’s not just for you, He’s with you.