************ Sermon on Matthew 1:23 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on December 15, 2002
"He is Coming: As God"
Who is that baby in the manger? So far we have said that Jesus came as a refiner's fire and launderer's soap. He came as king. Today, we learn that He has also come as God. He is Immanuel – which means, "God with us."
I Jesus is God
A That baby in the manger is God. That's what our text teaches us. And, that's the message of the Gospel. For instance, remember what the angel said to Mary:
(Lk 1:35) "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."At His baptism a voice from heaven called Him the Son of God (Mt 3:17; 17:5). His resurrection from the dead showed that He was the Christ, the Son of the living God. The introduction of John's Gospel states this about Jesus:
(Jn 1:1-2) "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning."
B Satan knew exactly Who Jesus was. Remember on what basis he tempted Jesus: "If you are the Son of God ..." (Mt 4:3,6). And Satan's helpers, the demons, they too knew the truth about Jesus. One Sabbath day in the synagogue of Capernaum, a man possessed by a demon cried out at the top of his voice,
(Luke 4:34) "Ha! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are--the Holy One of God!" After the service, Jesus went to Peter's house. The people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sicknesses and Jesus healed them. The demons that Jesus drove out of many people at that time shouted, "You are the Son of God!" (Lk 4:41; cf Mk 3:11; Mt 8:28-29).
Jesus' enemies understand exactly Who He was. When Christ said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven," some of the Jews fumed because only God can forgive sins. "This fellow is blaspheming," they said (Mt 9:2-3). "You, a mere man, claim to be God," said the Jews (Jn 10:33). For that reason Jesus' enemies wanted to stone Him, and for that reason they later crucified Him (Jn 19:7).
C In Philippians 2 Paul, inspired by the Spirit, tells us that Christ emptied Himself. He says,
(Phil 2:6-7) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, (7) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.According to Paul, Christ was and is and always will be God. As part of the triune Godhead His is the glory, honor, splendor, and majesty of God. In emptying Himself – that is, in making Himself nothing – Christ did not "grasp," He did not cling to, the glory, honor, splendor, and majesty that has eternally been His. Christ did not stop being God; not at all. However, He did empty Himself of the prestige of God when He made Himself nothing.
Yet, as we look through the Gospels, we see glimpses of glory, of His eternal glory, time after time. Do you remember what John wrote about Jesus' first miracle, the miracle of turning water into wine? John wrote,
(Jn 2:11) This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.Of course, it wasn't just this miracle but every miracle that showed His divine glory: multiplying the loaves and fish, healing the sick, stopping the storm, raising the dead, casting out evil spirits. Everyone of His miracles gives us glimpses of His eternal glory.
Many of the people who witnessed Jesus' miracles and heard His teachings proclaimed Him to be the Son of God. When Jesus raised the widow of Nain's son from the dead all the people said, "God has come to help his people" (Lk 7:16). When Jesus walked on water, saved a drowning Peter, and calmed the storm, the disciples worshiped Him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God" (Mt 14:32).
One day Jesus climbed up a mountain to pray. He took Peter, John, and James with Him. As He was praying, the appearance of His face changed, and His clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor and began talking with Jesus. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they (says Luke) "saw his glory" (Lk 9:28f).
We should also note that Jesus tended to minimize or downplay these glimpses of glory. Two times Jesus commanded people He had healed to keep quiet about what He had done (Matt 8:4; 9:30). After Peter's confession that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus "warned his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Christ" (Matt 16:20). And, when Jesus had been glorified and transfigured on the mountain He said to His disciples "Don't tell anyone what you have seen, until the son of Man has been raised from the dead" (Matt 17:9). Why did Jesus command silence? Because He did not want the praise or honor of men apart from being the Savior and Lord; that is, He did not want the praise or honor of men until He had gone the way of the cross and the grave.
It was and is obvious that Jesus is the eternal Son of God, part of the eternal Godhead. He is the Immanuel.
II Jesus is the Image of God
A Who is that baby in the manger? Jesus is the Immanuel. He is "God with us." In our Scripture reading for today Paul explains exactly what this means. Paul says about Jesus, "He is the image of the invisible God ... God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." As the Immanuel, Jesus is God's image.
What does it mean that Jesus is God's image? What does it mean that all of God's fulness dwells in Him? What Paul is trying to teach the Colossians is that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. God is invisible and therefore we can't see God, but we can see Jesus, the exact representation of all that God is, because He lived and walked on this earth for thirty-three years. An illustration some of you have heard before:
Topic: ChristmasThat baby in the manger is God "with skin on."
Title: God With Skin On
One night a small little voice was heard from the bedroom across the hall. "Daddy, I'm scared!" The response came quick: "Honey, don't be afraid, daddy's right across the hall." After a very brief pause the little voice is heard again, "I'm still scared!" Again a response: "You don't need to be afraid. God is watching over you." This time the pause is longer ... but the voice returns, "Daddy, I want someone with skin on!"
I just love how the writer of Hebrews says this: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being ..." (Heb 1:3). Jesus is the exact representation of Almighty God. If you want to know the heart of God all you have to do is get to know the heart of Jesus. If you want to know the love of God all you have to do is get to know the love of Jesus. If you want to know the will of God for all of His creation then all you have to do is get to know the will of Jesus for all of His creation. Plainly put, Jesus is God with skin on!
B Jesus is the Immanuel. "He is the image of the invisible God ... God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is eternal. He has no beginning and no end – just like the circle of the advent wreath:
(Jn 1:1-2) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) He was with God in the beginning.
Jesus is the Immanuel. "He is the image of the invisible God ... God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is the source of all that has been made:
(Jn 1:3) Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
(Col 1:16) For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Jesus is the Immanuel. "He is the image of the invisible God ... God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is completely wise:
(1 Cor 1:30) Christ Jesus, ... has become for us wisdom from God ...We see an instance of this with the call of Nathanael. Philip, all excited, told Nathanael about Jesus and brought him to the Lord.
(Jn 1:47-48) When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." (48) "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."Like God, Jesus know all things. Like God, Jesus looks deep within the hearts of men (Mt 9:4).
Jesus is the Immanuel. "He is the image of the invisible God ... God was pleased to have all his fulness dwell in him." This means that Jesus, like God, is almighty, omnipotent:
(Matt 28:18) Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. We see the might of Jesus, don't we, in the miracles: multiplying the loaves and fish, healing the sick, raising the dead, stilling the storm, causing a great catch of fish.
(Col 1:18) And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
III In Jesus, God is With Us
A That baby in the manger is the Immanuel. He is "God with us." All of God's fullness dwells in Him. He is God with skin on.
What does this mean for you and me today? Throughout the Bible we are given glimpses of the presence of God with His people. And, every time we hear the same thing. For instance, God was with Abraham as he journeyed to and around the Promised Land. God could say to Abraham,
(Gen 15:1) "Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward."When Moses was called to lead Israel out of Egypt, Moses protested his inability. God reassured him with the promise, "I will be with you" (Ex 3:12). When Joshua was apprehensive about taking over from Moses, God reassured him with these words:
(Deut 31:23) "Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you."To His people Israel God spoke these words through Isaiah the prophet:
(Josh 1:5) As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
(Is 41:10) So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.Do you hear the refrain that is echoed again and again? When God is with us we have nothing to fear!
(Is 43:2) When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
The baby Jesus is the Immanuel. He is "God with us." All of God's fullness dwells in Him. He is God with skin on. Therefore we do not have to fear because the God Who is with us is always greater than the evil that is against us. We do not have to fear sickness. We do not have to fear death. We do not have to fear persecution. We do not have to fear the enemies of the cross. We do not have to fear the future. We do not have to fear anything because, in Christ, God is with us. As Paul puts it, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom 8:31).
B The baby Jesus is the Immanuel. He is "God with us." All of God's fullness dwells in Him. He is God with skin on.
What does this mean for you and me? This means God will never leave, forsake, or fail His people. He is always there. Even the Lord Jesus discovered we cannot say that about any person for when the disciples fled and Judas betrayed Him and Peter denied Him, the Lord Jesus was all alone before His accusers. But God, He is always there. Again I think of what the Apostle Paul says,
(Rom 8:38-39) For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, (39) neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.He is always there and we can always depend on Him. No matter how desperate conditions become we know that God is with us.
Take any situation that we might suffer through: unemployment, death, divorce, bankruptcy, poverty, illness, surgery, pain, hurt, cancer. "Immanuel" means that God is with us even in such situations. Immanuel means that even in such situations God surrounds us with His love, His presence, and His Spirit. Immanuel means that even in such situations we are not left on our own.
Let me conclude with a card sent to me entitled, "Why Jesus is Better than Santa Claus."
Topic: ChristmasWhen it comes right down to it, why is Jesus better than Santa? Jesus is better because He is the Immanuel. He is "God with us." All of God's fullness dwells in Him. The baby Jesus is God with skin on.
Title: Why Jesus is Better than Santa Claus
Santa lives at the North Pole.
JESUS is everywhere.
Santa rides in a sleigh.
JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.
Santa comes but once a year.
JESUS is our ever present help.
Santa fills your stockings with goodies.
JESUS supplies all your needs.
You have to wait in line to see Santa.
JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.
Santa lets you sit on his lap.
JESUS lets you rest in His arms.
Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, what's your name?"
JESUS knew our name even before we were born. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future. He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.
Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly.
JESUS has a heart full of love.
All Santa can offer is "HO HO HO."
JESUS offers health, help and "hope."
Santa says "You better not cry".
JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you."
Santa may make you chuckle.
JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.
While Santa puts gifts under your tree
JESUS became our gift and He died on a tree. The cross!
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