A DAY OF THANKSGIVING MATTHEW 1:18-25: “She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from [a]failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God].” (v21)

Did you hear that: first Jesus is a Greek word for Joshua which is Hebrew; second Jesus Christ means Saviour and part of God’s aim and plan for sending Himself in Lord Jesus to earth is to initiate, introduce and teach the real humanity starting with the Jews how to prevent the failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God and being Godly. Today what we see on earth is the actual failing and missing of the true end and scope of life in the midst of humanity because the counterfeit humanity that results from the Eve-serpent relationship introduced worldliness from the spirit that actuates the children of disobedience. At the very beginning of creation a fatal error was introduced in the gene of humanity through the mistake of Eve’s intercourse with the spirit of Lucifer via the serpent and from thence a beastly character, behaviour, attitude and life pattern was introduced into the life of true humanity hence today you see that it has multiplied and virtually every human either by birth or by induction has this animalistic display of beastly tendencies which is why you see that human rebellion against the Almighty God and His principles have peaked hence you are hearing things like new world order where man wants to completely erase God from being involved in his affairs by creating and formulating things that does not follow divine principles nor conform with the order of God’s way of doing things. In the first attempt of this rebellion called the Tower of Babel, God confused man by introducing diverse language and thus prevented that ugly move of man! On this, the day we set apart to celebrate in a special way the birth of Lord Jesus, how good it is to know that we are celebrating not the birth of a principle, but the birth of a Divine Person. This divine birth is God giving birth to Himself in other to teach and exemplify to man the attributes and divine spirit content of real man different from that of the counterfeit man with his carnal or fleshiness introduced by Lucifer through the serpent’s relationship with Eve. ‘You have an advantage’, said a university professor in China to a Christian visiting the country. ‘In that all the ideas in Christianity are embodied in a person.’ ‘The impersonal laid hold on my heart’, said Tulsidas, the great poet of India. It never does, for the human heart is personal and wants a personal response. That is why when you teach the indwelling principles of Christ to the human heart which is not personal to him, he revolts and rebels! I love repeating the story of the boy who stood looking at the picture of his absent father and then, turning to his mother, said wistfully, ‘I wish father would step out of the picture and hold me in his arms.’ That young boy expressed the kind of deep longings felt by the human heart as we stand looking at the picture frame of the entire universe on which we see God. We who have gazed at the picture of God in nature as impressed, but not satisfied because just like the little boy we want our Father Lord God Almighty to step out of the picture (universe) and meet us as a person. That deep longing and desire for God to step out of the universe and come to us was fulfilled in the Birth of Lord Jesus Christ which we celebrate on Christmas. The good news is that the Father has stepped out of the picture (the universe) as we deeply longed for but yet many of us still do not believe or accept it. This coming of God in the birth of Lord Jesus is the meaning of Christmas. Lord Jesus is Immanuel –God with us. We hold our breath as the person steps out of the picture. Who would dare dream and expect that God would send us His own self in His Son? But He did. Since Lord Jesus is ‘the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being’ as seen in Hebrews 1:3 “He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the [a]out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power. When He had by offering Himself accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, He sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high”, we look at the character of Lord Jesus and know exactly what God’s character is like. The Christmas Word can, in a sense, become flesh in me. Today and every day I think of Lord Jesus Incarnation and of God’s love for us. The true Christmas spirit is the true Christian spirit –extended throughout the whole year.

  GOD WITH US MATTHEW 1:18-25:

Lord Jesus is Immanuel, God for us, God present with us, and God dying to save us from our sin. Lord Jesus is truly Immanuel, God with us. “Christ, indeed, was not called by this name Immanuel that we anywhere read of…but the import of this name is most truly affirmed and acknowledged to be fully made good in Him” as seen in Isaiah 7:14 “In what sense then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Lord Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in His incarnation; God with us, by the influences of His Holy Spirit, in the holy sacrament, in the preaching of His word, in our private prayer are some of the ways God is with us. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in His name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, on the Day of Judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in Him, to all eternity.” Do you understand all of this; will you make effort to see that this is happening in your life by reading the Word of God in the Scripture and the Gospel? So that in reality you can truly claim that God is with you! We can deeply meditate on the meaning of this name – Immanuel; God with us. • It shows how low God bent down to save man; God added the nature (human) of one of His own creatures to His own divine nature, accepting the weaknesses, frailties and dependency that the creature experiences. • It shows what a great miracle it was that God could add a human nature to His own and still remain God. • It shows the compatibility between the unfallen human nature and the divine nature; that the two could be joined shows that we are truly made in the image of God. • It shows that we can come to Him; if He has come to us, then we can come to Him. “Then, if Jesus Christ be ‘God with us,’ let us come to God without any question or hesitancy also through Jesus Christ. Whoever you may be you need no priest or intercessor to introduce you to God, for God has first introduced Himself to you.” So a well and truly celebrated Christmas gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself to Jesus Christ assuming you have not done so, but if you have it is an occasion to evaluate your successes and your failures walking along with Him over the year with a ready mind and tendencies to make amends where necessary. Now let us read Matthew 1: 18-25: 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: When His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant [through the power] of the Holy Spirit. 19 And her [promised] husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss (divorce) her quietly and secretly. 20 But as he was thinking this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary [as] your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of (from, out of) the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from [a]failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God]. 22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, 23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us[Isa. 7:14]. 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him: he took [her to his side as] his wife. 25 But he had no union with her as her husband until she had borne her firstborn Son; and he called His name Jesus. Isa. 7:14, ‘714Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]. Isa. 9:6; Jer. 31:22; Mic. 5:3-5; Matt. 1:22, 23.]

  Introduction:

In the Bible or Scripture we heard of the adventures of Judah as she received a sign from God. If you remember, King Ahaz of Judah was scared to death that the two kingdoms from the north, Syria and Israel were about to annihilate or to remove Judah from being in existence. Remember the passage that told us Syria was in league with Ephraim (Ephraim being another name for Israel) that the people of Judah shook with fear. Judah was terrified because they knew there was no way they could stand should Syria and Israel decide to attack. So God speaks to King Ahaz to tell him that He will, in fact, be with Judah. God even asks Ahaz to request from Him a sign as proof that He will be with Judah. Ahaz refuses out of some kind of false humility so God tells him that He will then give him a sign. God goes on to explain that a virgin/young maiden will conceive and bear a son. Many believe it was Isaiah’s wife who was a virgin at the time of the announcement soon to marry Isaiah and within two years she would bear a son. What’s remarkable is that by giving Ahaz this sign God was basically telling or assuring King Ahaz that there would be a baby born because your people will still be here, I hope you got what God meant right, since a baby would be born to Ahaz does it not mean that his people will not be annihilated, they will still remain on earth. Syria and Israel will not destroy or annihilate you and the coming baby will be proof of that promise. So we read the statement…in Isaiah 7:14 saying, 14 Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]. The birth of little Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz was proof that God was with Judah or in this case for them or on their side. This name means ‘’quickly to the plunder’’ and it is a reference to the impending plunder of Samaria and Damascus by the king of Assyria. This name is the name of prophet Isaiah’s son! In that first fulfilment God told Judah that the baby would be a sign of Immanuel, God with Judah. God told Judah that every time you look at this baby remember that I’ve told you that before he grows to about age 12, the two enemies you fear, Syria and Israel will be destroyed and their land will be deserted. As I began studying this passage in Matthew 1, I started thinking about the Isaiah text and then about all the times God was with His people in the OT. Every time God shows up in the OT it is in a form that brings fear and trembling to all. Remember the Book of Job? God revealed Himself to Job as a whirlwind. Tornados are something that brings fear to us. What about the Exodus when the Israelites approached Mount Sinai and witnessed God’s presence in the thunder, lightning, and earthquakes that surrounded the mountain? Remember also that the people were so afraid that they went to Moses and said, you must go to God for us because we cannot endure His fearful presence any more. You may think of the Prophet Isaiah when he saw the Lord high and lifted up in a vision and fell and said woe is me. You might think of others, but the point is that the presence of God in the OT is a dreadful thing, one that evokes fear, trembling, and sometimes even brought the witness or the beholder close to death. Can you imagine for a moment that Moses, Isaiah or Job were seated here today and would hear the NT words of Matthew? They would immediately connect the name Immanuel to fear, dread, and trembling. But when they see how merciful and gracious God now handles the affairs of man. Then they would discover that God came (Jesus Christ in flesh-the Immanuel) and was with His people eating, drinking and discussing and it wasn’t in the form of a tornado, lightning earthquake and thunder, or a bright and dreadful vision, or even a pillar of fire or a dazzling light but He came in the form of a baby…a human baby grow and wax strong in spirit. Pray… 21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from [a]failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God]. The name, Jesus means The Lord is salvation. It is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Someone’s name in ancient Israel means everything. It is who the person is; it is his character and purpose. But do we emulate that principle in our naming pattern today? You will call Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sin. The angel was given this message from God to deliver. Call Him Jesus because He will!!! There was never the smallest shred of doubt in God’s mind that His Son would fail in His mission to save His people. John 10:10 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [a]overflows). Luke 19:10, 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost. 1 Timothy 1:15 15 The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost. The sin that Lord Jesus saves His people from is not only sin as we think of it, evil or wrongdoing but we must remember that sin is also rebellion against a holy God. When we sin it is offending a holy God. Not only that, but Lord Jesus saves His people not only from sin but even from the guilt, penalty, and the power sin holds in our lives. So, Lord Jesus saves us from every aspect of sin’s dominion in our lives. So if really you are of God, you have the ability given by Christ indwelling you to resist sin if you so desire without anybody forcing you or telling you to do so because you on your own will discover that sin is deadly and destructive and should be avoided by all means. Verse 21 also has a part we should look at briefly, His people. Who are they? Notice, this verse is very clear who the saved are. The entire world is not saved from sin. Those of other religions are not saved from sin except they convert. Extremely nice moral people are not saved from sin except they live the true Christian life in addition to their nice morals. Star athletes, singers, movie stars are not saved from sin. There is an exclusiveness here that the world struggles with but it’s true just the same…Only those who come to Lord Jesus seeking repentance and forgiveness are saved from sin and no one else. Do you now see how exclusive or restricted salvation is? This is why those who know they cannot afford salvation try to obstruct or create difficulties in diverse ways in the way of those who can through falsehood and deception; these are the ‘A ga ga acha acha’ who the word of God says you should battle and remove them from your way otherwise they are not ready to move away and will not allow you to go in either. Do not allow anybody to make you lose your salvation! One other piece here we must not leave out is the absoluteness of the angel’s message, He will save…He will save His people from their sin. His people are all that the Father gave Him. His people are those chosen before the foundation of the world. His people are those whom God has called to be conformed to the image of His Son. Every single one of the people God called has been or will be saved from their sin through the death of Jesus Christ. Through the cross, Lord Jesus saves His people. The cross saves, it doesn’t make salvation possible, and something left up to us. God is not in heaven saying, I hope they choose Jesus…This is why the angel could say, Name Him Jesus because He will save His people from their sin. You Shall Call His Name, Immanuel 22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet: 23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. Matthew declares very pointedly and clearly when he applies the Isaiah prophecy to Jesus that Lord Jesus is God with us. In order to be God with us, Lord Jesus has to be God. In Lord Jesus, God meets with His people not as a vicious tornado or a freighting earthquake, but as a human infant meek and mild at first and then as a sinless adult redeemer later. When God took on human flesh He came not to judge His people but to save His people. If God now meets with His people and the encounter is not terrifying as it used to be then it means that sin has been dealt with. God deals with sin as He takes on flesh and dies on the cross. It had to be Immanuel who died and no one else. So in Lord Jesus God just isn’t for us and He just isn’t physically present but in Lord Jesus He dies for His people, thus paying the sin debt we owe Him and so saving us from our sin. The covenant is kept God keeps His part and God keeps our part. I want to speak just for a moment about something we sometimes hear. God saves us from hell. In a sense that may have truth to it but the more biblical model is that He saves us from our sin. He pays the sin debt we owe and could never pay. So, the real meaning of Christmas is that God came and tabernacle with His people for a time, lived a sinless life, so, fulfilling the covenant agreement we broke and then died a horrific death on the cross to pay our sin debt and to also save us from sin’s power and hold on us so that we are no longer slaves to sin but slaves to God. This work had to be accomplished by the Human Son of God Jesus our Lord. Jesus is 100% God and 100% man while on the earth. God forgave sin and build His church by dying on the cross… Acts 20:28 28 Take care and be on guard for yourselves and the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you bishops and guardians, to shepherd (tend and feed and guide) the church of the Lord or [a]of God which He obtained for Himself [buying it and saving it for Himself] with His own blood. Only God can forgive sin… Luke 5:22–25 22 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts and questionings, answered them, Why do you question in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, Your sins are forgiven you, or to say, Arise and walk [about]? 24 But that you may know that the Son of Man has the [[h]power of] authority and right on earth to forgive sins, He said to the paralyzed man, I say to you, arise, pick up your litter (stretcher), and go to your own house! 25 And instantly [the man] stood up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went away to his house, [i]recognizing and praising and thanking God. Only God should be worshipped… John 20:28–29 28 Thomas answered Him, My Lord and my God! 29 Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and [a]to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me. So, imagine Moses, Isaiah, and Job hearing these truths. That God has met with us in the person of Lord Jesus and that His presence was not terrifying again but redemptive. I’m sure their mouths would hang open in amazement. They also might be surprise and wonder why we are not more moved by this tremendous truth than we are. God is with us and it is not terrifying because our sin debt has been paid by Jesus Christ.

  God’s Sovereignty Over History:

You may be wondering why I would even bring this point up. Matthew, in writing his Gospel, makes this point over and over. He is the one more than any of the Gospels that show the birth of Lord Jesus fulfils multiple OT predictions and the ones left unfulfilled will come to pass when Lord Jesus returns. 22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, 23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. All this took place…what does all this refer to? The birth of Lord Jesus took place like it did to prove that God had planned this event from long ago. We know that the event was planned even before time or the creation of the universe. While Matthew correctly sees the incarnation as the culmination of the Isaiah prophecy it also works backwards as well. What I mean is that in order for Lord Jesus to fulfil the Isaiah prophecy there had to be a King Ahaz who would refuse to ask God for a sign. There had to be Syria and Israel posing a threat to Judah. There had to be Isaiah the prophet. There had to be their parents; there had to be a divided Kingdom…Do you see that what the phrase literally means…22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet: God has orchestrated all of history, biblically recorded and unrecorded to fulfil what He promised to His Son in the Eternal Covenant. If You go and redeem those sinners, I will give them to You as an inheritance. The meaning of Christmas is not just peace on earth and goodwill toward men but also peace with God through Jesus Christ, His Son and the God who is with us. Matthew 1:18–25; 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: When His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant [through the power] of the Holy Spirit. 19 And her [promised] husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss (divorce) her quietly and secretly. 20 But as he was thinking this over, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary [as] your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of (from, out of) the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [the Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, which means Savior], for He will save His people from their sins [that is, prevent them from [a]failing and missing the true end and scope of life, which is God]. 22 All this took place that it might be fulfilled which the Lord had spoken through the prophet, 23 Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel—which, when translated, means, God with us. 24 Then Joseph, being aroused from his sleep, did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him: he took [her to his side as] his wife. 25 But he had no union with her as her husband until she had borne her firstborn Son; and he called His name Jesus. All this is the Declaration of Grace. Joy to the world ...the Lord has come! It wasn’t the royal arrival anyone anticipated. And yet, Lord Jesus’ appearance changed everything. In an instant, the Son of God became “God with us’ – and over 2,000 years later, our weary world is still rejoicing. Today, as you prepare for Christmas, spend some time celebrating that Lord Jesus’ humble birth prepared a way for us to draw near to Him. Are you near to Lord Jesus? Merry Christmas to all of you!!!

  

Lord Jesus, thank You for becoming Immanuel, “God with us.” it’s because of You that I can experience true joy and true life value. I admit that it can sometimes feel hard to be joyful in the middle of a busy or difficult holiday season. But when the cares of my heart are many, Your comfort gives me renewed hope and cheer. So today, I choose to take refuge in You and rejoice. I will sing for joy because You are my strength and my salvation. In Your presence there is fullness of joy! And because of Your humble arrival over 2,000 years ago, I am now able to experience the joy of Your presence forever. Thank You Lord Jesus. You are always worthy of all glory, honour, and power –and so no matter what I face, I will choose to worship You. In Your name Lord Jesus I pray. Amen! Gracious Father, as You sent Yourself in Your Son to speak to us, so Lord help me to spread the message of Christmas by living the Christian life that characterize Christmas. And not just today Lord but every day. In Lord Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!