Ready or Not - Son of God
“City sidewalks, busy sidewalks.”
There is a popular Christmas song called "Silver Bells." It begins with the words, "City sidewalks, busy sidewalks..." That's a an accurate picture of our world at Christmas time. We're all familiar with city sidewalks are busy sidewalks filled with holiday shoppers. The parking lots are full. The stores are crowded and the cash registers are totaling up the purchases.
People, people and more people. Each one on a mission. Most in a hurry. Some bumping into one another. Few without holiday stress. The entire human population on the way to their individual destinations. Busy, industrious, active, technologically savvy, overloaded with information, and still searching for significance.
This weekend we'll be stopping to worship our Lord Jesus. God come to earth - as a helpless baby. Here is the greatest gift from which comes our only real significance. This Sunday we'll join together in a wonderful day of celebration and joy - away from the city sidewalks, busy sidewalks - where we can really experience Christmas again.
The entire human population on the way to their individual destinations. Busy, industrious, active, technologically savvy, overloaded with information, and still searching for significance.
The city of Jerusalem could have been said to have some busy walkways around 735 B.C. It was a thriving city – well populated – the capital of the nation of Judah – and led by a king from the family line of the great King David.
Looking at the story in Isaiah 7, we find that the political situation surrounding Jerusalem was becoming volatile. The nearby countries of Syria and Israel had formed an alliance and sought to conquer Jerusalem.
So God sent the prophet Isaiah to speak to Ahaz. God’s message: Don’t be afraid. You will not be defeated. And then in rather uncharacteristic fashion, God says to Ahaz through Isaiah (v. 10), “Ahaz, ask me for a sign.”
A Sign From God
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
George Harrison – ex-Beatle: "Today" show anchor Anne Curry interviewed George before his death and quotes him as saying, “Everything else in life can wait, but the search for God cannot wait.”
While Christians wouldn’t subscribe to many of George Harrison’s views on God, we still have to admit that He was right about the importance of finding God.
And the good news is, He’s not difficult to find. He himself gave a sign – and then sent Jesus to fulfill it.
Jesus is sent straight from God.
He’s always had you in mind.
He took action for you.
Do you believe it?
Have you accepted it?
The Sign is for All People
A lady had a circle of friends for whom she really wanted to buy Christmas presents. Time slipped away and it was so busy at work for her she wasn’t able to get to the store to purchase those gifts. Time was running out. So not too many days before Christmas she decided to give up on the gift idea and just buy everybody the same beautiful Christmas card. She went to the local gift store and hurriedly went through the now picked over stack of cards and found a box of fifty, just exactly what she wanted. She didn’t take time to read the message, just noticed a beautiful cover on it and there was gold around it and a floral appearance on the front of the card and she thought, “That’s perfect.” So she signed all of them, “With all my love.”
As New Year’s came and she had time to go back to two or three cards she didn’t send from that stack, she was shocked to read the message inside. It said, in a little rhyme, “This Christmas card is just to say, a little gift is on its way.”
(From The Tale of the Tardy Oxcard, Charles R. Swindoll, p. 81)
She was in trouble. She now needed to get gifts for everyone on her Christmas card mailing list.
God sent a message to ALL people. You’re getting a gift. If God had wanted Isaiah to rhyme, he might have said, “This prophecy is just to say, the greatest gift is on its way!” The greatest gift ever – and given to all people.
When God goes Christmas shopping He doesn’t mess around!
It would be for all people – not just a people group.
Do you remember what the angel said to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night? In announcing the birth of Jesus, Luke 2:10 says…
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
The Sign would be a Miracle
How would you get the attention of a large crowd of people?
Some have tried…
Streaking (worked in the early 70’s)
Today some use acts of terrorism to capture the attention of the world.
There is an old saying, popularized by a perfume commercial, that goes “If you want to capture someone’s attention, just whisper.”
God’s sign would be miraculous. A virgin would conceive. A young lady who had never been intimate with a man would become pregnant. A truly miraculous sign. You’d think that would capture people’s attention.
By the way, in some medieval works of art, Mary is typically found reading Isaiah 7:14 at the moment Gabriel arrives to announce the Messiah’s conception.
Matthew 1:22-23 shows us that this promise refers directly to Mary: 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…
Did the world sit up and take notice that the virgin was with child? Was all focus on Joseph and Mary the night Jesus was born, or was everyone going about their business, or busyness, as the case may be?
“Where you would have expected angels, there were only flies. Where you would have expected heads of state, there were only donkeys, a few haltered cows, a nervous ball of sheep, a tethered camel and a furtive scurry of barn mice.”
(from Intimate Moments With the Savior)
I don’t think it was any coincidence that the inn was full that night in Bethlehem. Why was the inn full? Because a census was being taken and everyone had to return to the home town of their family line. The city was literally full of people. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks. Sidewalks filled with the lonely, the hurting, the ones with misplaced priorities. People, people, people.
And yet God’s long awaited sign was largely overlooked by the crowds of the city. It was miraculous – A virgin conception – a virgin birth. Overlooked. Dismissed as any other conception or any other birth.
And the very point many people get hung up on with Jesus today is the virgin birth. From the get go, we approach him through faith – because the sign would be miraculous. Do you believe it?
TRANSITION: One last thing about the sign…
The Sign would be a Baby Boy
A baby boy – named Immanuel – which means, “God with us” – not apart from us – not distant from us, but “God with us.”
While this was not Jesus’ proper name, it was a name that belonged to him as an attribute. This is who He is. From the point of this miraculous birth on, God would himself be present among His people. Jesus will have two natures: human and divine. He will experience all that we experience, and He will give all that we need: salvation.
John 1:14 says…
So the Word became human and lived here on earth among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father.
New York Yankees’ announcer Phil Rizzuto once suggested to manager Joe Torre that managing could be done better from high above the baseball field – from the level of the broadcasting booth.
Torre thought for a minute and then replied, “Upstairs, you can’t look in their eyes.”
In Jesus Christ, God also chose to come down on the field and look into our eyes.
(David R. Martin, “Incarnation,” Leadership)
Did Ahaz understand all this? No. Was all this fulfilled during his lifetime? No. It was a prophecy, focusing on the future, given to all people so that God could be with all people for all time.
Nothing Changes Life Like a Baby!
God has sent his son Jesus Christ to you. He’s given you a baby boy.
Is your life noticeably different because of this baby?
Has this baby affected your work, your schedule, your home, your life? Has this baby influenced your attitude, your love, your giving, your service?
We live in a world filled with elevator people…
“Everyday they pass me by, I can see it in their eye.
Empty people filled with care, Headed who knows where?
On they go through private pain, Living fear to fear.
Laughter hides their silent cries, Only Jesus hears.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.
People need the Lord, people need the Lord.
When will we realize--people need the Lord”
(Lyrics to “People Need the Lord,” sung by Steve Green)