Faithlife Sermons

O come, o come, Immanuel

Christmas 2019  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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O COME, O COME EMMANUEL Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Matthew 1:18-25 (KJV) 18  Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19  Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20  But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21  And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22  Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23  Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24  Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25  And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel may be the oldest Christmas carol still sung today. The author is unknown, but he’s believed to have been a priest or a monk writing before 800 A.D. He obviously had a rich knowledge of both Old and New Testaments. Originally the carol contained seven different verses, representing the different biblical views of the Messiah. One verse per day was sung or chanted during the last seven days before Christmas. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel was first published in the 1850s in England. It’s a simple, reverent tribute to the birth of Christ and to the fulfillment of God’s promise to deliver His children from sin. And it is the perfect song for us to begin our new sermon series, The Songs of Christmas. The author of the song had in mind Isaiah 7: 14 which says: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. This prophecy from Isaiah was made 700 years before the birth of Christ, and it was repeated as a promise to Joseph by the angel of the Lord. The Christ child would be called “Emmanuel, God with us.” And though Jesus was to be called this, it wasn’t given to Him as a name. No one ever said to Jesus, “Hey, Emmanuel, how’s it going today?” Emmanuel described who Jesus was and what He would accomplish. He was God come to dwell with humankind as a man like us. And in His arrival, He met the very deepest needs of our hearts. I want to talk about those needs and how they are met through the Christ today: “GOD WITH US” MEETS OUR NEED TO… 1. KNOW GOD AND KNOW THAT WE ARE KNOWN BY GOD a. What we celebrate in this Christmas season is the fact that the yearning of the Old Testament people, Israel, has been fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah. i. God has, by the power of His Holy Spirit, broken into human history. ii. Emmanuel has come! iii. God is with us in the person of Jesus Christ. iv. J. B. Phillips wrote, “We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet.” b. The God of all creation has come to recreate His creation, to redeem His creation, to make possible our wholeness of life through Jesus Christ. i. In 20 years of pastoral ministry, I’ve come to believe that at the deepest level of every one of us there is a yearning to know this God who came to this planet in a personal way. ii. At the heart of every one of us is a desire to experience the reality of Emmanuel—God with us! 1. 1620 – Blaise Pascal coined the phrase “god shaped hole” 2. 400 AD – Augustine of Hippo- “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” 3. Solomon – Ecc 3:10-12 Ecclesiastes 3:10-12 (ESV) 10  I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. 11  He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. 12  I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; 4. Jesus - John 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, "If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.'" 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. NAS a. The word "innermost being" is the Greek koilos, meaning hole or empty place. b. It is often translated belly or womb. c. In John 7, Jesus is describing a spiritual empty place in the heart of man, not a physical belly or womb. d. This empty place is the source of thirst e. The divine solution to this hunger/thirst is to fill it with living water from the Holy Spirit. 5. A freelance reporter from the New York Times once interviewed Marilyn Monroe. She was aware of Marilyn's past and the fact that during her early years Marilyn had been shuffled from one foster home to another. The reporter asked, "Did you ever feel loved by any of the foster families with whom you lived?" "Once," Marilyn replied, "when I was about seven or eight. The woman I was living with was putting on makeup, and I was watching her. She was in a happy mood, so she reached over and patted my cheeks with her rouge puff… For that moment, I felt loved by her." 6. As sad as that story is, it demonstrates the need we all have to be touched, to be acknowledged, and to be cared for by someone greater than ourselves. 7. And that need is no greater demonstrated than in the need each of us have to know God and to be known by Him. c. Fortunately, through the arrival of Jesus, Emmanuel, that need has been met. i. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. ii. He is the true God and eternal life. –1 John 5: 20 1 John 5:20 (KJV) 20  And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 1. This verse was written to those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. 2. And it is written to assure us that this God whom we long to be touched by, that we long to converse with, and that we long to spend time with, has come and made Himself known to us in the fullest sense possible. 3. The God “up there” became the God “in our midst” and it all started on that day 2,000 years ago when a baby was born who would change the world. d. My concern today is for those of you who might not know God yet because whether you’ve identified this need yet in your own life, I am sure it is there. i. God has instilled within each of us a desire to know Him intimately, and He met that need by sending His Son. ii. He is now simply waiting for you to acknowledge Him in faith, and He will make Himself known to you. 2. HAVE ALL SIN AND GUILT REMOVED a. There was a time during the most horrible persecutions of the Jews by the Nazis in Poland that an old Jewish cemetery keeper came into the cemetery one morning and found that during the night a woman had crept into an open grave and there given birth to a son –and she had died. He found this child, and he said to himself and to others, "This must be the Messiah, for only the Messiah could choose to be born in a grave." i. Well, it wasn't the Messiah; the child died before noon of that day. ii. But the truth of which that cemetery keeper spoke is absolutely accurate. 1. Only the Messiah of God could choose to be born in such a humble manner. 2. Only a God who loves as our God loves could come into the midst of all the pain of life and death and here bring his grace. b. Jesus’ birth was necessary so that in the end He could experience death for us. i. It is very easy to be moved by the pictures of Jesus as an infant, being held and loved by His mother. ii. But we must remember that the infant would grow to manhood and be nailed to a Cross to meet our need to have our sin and guilt removed. 1. …knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. –1 Peter 1: 18-19 iii. The Christ of Christmas cannot be disassociated from the Christ of the Cross. 1. Jesus paid the ransom price –He paid with His own blood, so that you and I could be set free from every sin we have ever committed. 2. In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. –2 Corinthians 5: 19 c. When you accepted Jesus as your Savior, He removed every sin that you have ever committed and wiped the slate clean. i. Our need to be able to stand before God in complete innocence and purity was met through Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. ii. I now appear in God’s eyes with the righteousness of Jesus Himself –not because of anything I have done, but because of what He has done for me. 3. HAVE GOD AS OUR CONSTANT COMPANION a. A couple had two boys, 8 and 10, who were always getting into trouble. The parents were certain if any mischief occurred in the community that their two young sons were involved. They were at a loss as to what to do about their behavior. Then the mother heard about a minister who'd been successful in disciplining children, so she brought the boys to him. The minister asked to see the boys individually, and the youngest went first. The minister sat the boy down and asked, "Where is God?" The boy made no attempt to answer. The question was repeated in a sterner voice but still no answer. Then the minister shook his finger at the boy and asked in an even sterner voice, "Where is God?" At that the boy ran from the room and into a closet and slammed the door. His older brother followed him in and asked what happened. The younger brother replied, "We're in trouble this time. God is missing, and they think we did it!" b. While we know that God has never come up missing in the general sense, He has come up missing in some of our lives. i. But if that is the case, it isn’t because God doesn’t want to be with us, but rather, because we have chosen to walk away from Him. ii. Emmanuel, God with us, isn’t a temporary reality –it is a permanent and consistent truth. 1. As God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. –2 Corinthians 6: 16b 2. While there are times in all of our lives when it might feel as if God has abandoned us, that is never the case. 3. We must not allow our emotional state to determine what is truth and error. a. And the truth is, that no matter what you are dealing with right now, God will never leave you nor forsake you. b. “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” –Matthew 28: 20b c. As Jesus came to this planet to meet our needs, He continues with us for time eternal –there will never be a time in your life, whether on this earth, or in the life to come, where Jesus will not be your ever-present companion. 4. HAVE HOPE FOR THE FUTURE a. We have a need to know that there is more to life than what we are presently experiencing, and that need is met by Emmanuel, “God with us.” i. G. K. Chesterton declared, “God became homeless so that we could find a home.” ii. And the home that God is giving us is in a place called “heaven.” 1. Jesus was once questioned by the religious leaders of His day and they demanded to know whether He was claiming to be the Messiah or not. 2. Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” –Matthew 26: 64 iii. What was He saying? 1. That as He has come, so shall He return. 2. But when Jesus comes back, it will not be as a cuddly infant in a cradle. 3. It will be as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, coming to judge those who refused His offer of companionship, and to take those who accepted Him to heaven. iv. There is a great day coming for those of us who are in a relationship with Christ 1. A day when we realize for the very first time the full splendor and wonder of God. 2. Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. –Ephesians 1: 18 b. I would like to take you, if I could, to a graphic portrayal of the Word of God, Emmanual, Jesus, as the world will see him the next time He comes: in a great cathedral in Milan. i. Its not the resurrection of Jesus Christ the Lord, not his crucifixion or ascension. ii. This image depicts the triumph of Jesus Christ the Lord. 1. Revelation 19:11-21 (ESV) 11  Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14  And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15  From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16  On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. 17  Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18  to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.” 19  And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. 20  And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 21  And the rest were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of him who was sitting on the horse, and all the birds were gorged with their flesh. 2. He comes to set everything straight at last for everyone of us who have hoped in him, and for everyone who has been subjected to the pain and prejudice of living for Jesus Christ in a world seemingly gone mad. c. It is the need for hope –and a certain hope at that –that there is a world coming, a much better one, where you and I have been given a one-way ticket. d. It is to a place where we will dwell forever, in the presence of Emmanuel, God with us. As we gather together to sing the songs of Christmas this year, let’s not forget that the song on our lips needs to be a song coming from our hearts. This Christmas, more than any other, let’s begin to truly praise Him for what He has done in His Son, Jesus Christ. Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel. Oh, come, oh come great Lord of might, Who to your tribes on Sinai's height In ancient times once gave the law In cloud, and majesty, and awe. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel. Oh, come, strong Branch of Jesse, free Your own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell your people save And give them vict'ry o'er the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel. Oh, come, blest Daystpring, come and cheer Our spirits by you advent here; Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, And death's dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel. Oh, come, O Key of David, come, And open wide our heav'nly home; Make safe the way that leads on high, And close the path to misery. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel.
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