Printable PDF: 12-25-2017 Christmas Day Sermon 2017
Pastor Jacobson ~ Christmas Day Sermon 2017 ~ Matthew 1:23b
…and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’).
Who are “they”? Whoever called him “Immanuel”? They never called him that. Skim the pages of the New Testament and no one is ever quoted calling him “Immanuel”. Joseph gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:25). Mary called him “Son” (Luke 2:48). Simeon referred to him as “the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25), Anna – “the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). The wise men labeled him “the king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1). Still others called him “Teacher” and “Lord”, “the Christ”, “the Messiah”, but never once is anyone, anywhere recorded on the pages of the New Testament calling him “Immanuel.” And anytime we actually say the name “Immanuel” it means it must be Christmastime because we rarely call him that any other time of year. Yet this Christmas morning as our hearts ponder the name “Immanuel”, our focus is on the meaning of “Immanuel – God with us.” As we consider this name we understand, first of all, God is always with us and, secondly, God addresses our needs
The Apostle John had a good opportunity to call Jesus “Immanuel”, but under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit John had chosen to call Jesus “the Word.” The Word created everything. The Word was, “let there be light,” and there was light. The Word was “Let us make man in our image,” and there was man in God’s image. The Word created life and the Word operated life, too. I suppose God could have used his Word as a shadow or a stick. He could have hovered over the sun so that he made sure it would only shine during the day and that the moon and stars could shine at night. He could have used his fist like a “Whack-a-Mole” to make sure the fish would stay under the water, but the Word chose to let his creation function freely according to his Word.
Sadly, the crown of his creation rebelled at his Word, starting with some rotten angels and through their influence mankind fell, too. And yet even in mankind’s sin, God did not approach them with a shadow or a stick. In Genesis chapter 3 he approaches his creation with questions, questions to lead them to repentance. And though the repentance would not come immediately, he allows Adam and Eve to overhear the first gospel, Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, you will strike his heal.” Throughout the centuries of the Old Testament he would tell us more of this offspring: born of a virgin, born in Bethlehem, proclaimer of freedom for those captive in sin, a suffering servant. And when the time had fully come, the Word became flesh. The eternal was born in time. The all-present God confined to a mother’s womb, the all-powerful God needing to be carried, the all-knowing God learning from sinners. He did this because only God can redeem sinners and so God became man to help man with their greatest need – the forgiveness of sins.
God is concerned about all our needs. King Ahaz (Isaiah 7:1-14) had a concern about the enemies to the north. Joseph had a concern about taking Mary home as his wife (Mathew 1:18-25), but God’s Word addressed the enemy’s threat and the hurting heart with his Word. God’s Word addresses our enemies and hurts, too. God’s Word calls us to believe “God is with us.”
They all called him “Immanuel”. Joseph called him “Immanuel” when he took Mary home as his wife. Simeon and Anna called him “Immanuel” when they saw salvation in that infant child. The wise men saw “Immanuel” when they fell on their knees and worshipped Jesus. And later the thief on the cross saw him as “Immanuel” – the God who would remember him and bring him into his kingdom. After looking at Jesus’ pierced side and hands and feet, Thomas said, “My Lord and My God.” Peter too would address his Savior, “Lord, you know all things.”
When Christians worship, we call Jesus “Immanuel”, too. We may not use the name all year long, but its meaning “God with us” remains as we believe God’s promises and as we show our faith through what we say and do. That is how we call him Immanuel. Amen.