Christmas Eve – 2019 LSB #’s 344, 370, 368
Text – Matthew 1:22-23
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, (which means, God with us).
Jesus Is The Son Of Mary
Who is Jesus? That’s the question we’re asking this Advent, using Matthew 1 to guide us. “Who is Jesus?” is the most important question we can ever ask. Some say that Jesus is a therapist – He helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves.
Others say that Jesus is a coffee lover – He drinks fair-trade coffee at Starbucks, loves spiritual conversations, drives a hybrid, and goes to film festivals. People say Jesus is a coach – who helps athletes fun faster and jump higher than non-Christians, even determining the outcome of the Super Bowl.
It used to be that people would say Jesus was a hippie – He taught everyone to give peace a chance, imagined a world without religion, and helped us remember that “all you need is love.” Some picture Jesus as a spiritual guru – He hates religion, churches, pastors, priests and doctrine, and would rather have people out in nature, finding the “god within.”
People have said Jesus is a revolutionary – teaching us to rebel against the status quo, stick it to the man, while blaming things on “the system.” Maybe you’ve thought of Jesus as a good example – He shows us how to help people and to protect the earth and nature.
Finally, there’s the real Jesus – the one from the Bible, the Jesus of Matthew chapter 1. Matthew announces that Jesus is the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, and the Son of Solomon. Today we see that Jesus is the Son of Mary: “Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Christ.” (Matthew 1:17 ESV) Matthew summarizes Biblical history in three sets of fourteens – or six sevens. Now, if you’re a Hebrew reader, a story cannot end with six sevens. That’s not a complete story. There must be another scene – a seventh seven. This is a genealogy, and a story that lacks an ending. That is Matthew’s point.
Who is Jesus? He’s the One who ushers in the final act in God’s plan of salvation. Jesus brings our story to completion. How so? His two names connected to Mary complete everything that is lacking in our lives. Jesus is our Seventh Seven! Let’s see how.
Matthew 1:18, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” Mary conceives Jesus through the Holy Spirit. You remember. At first Joseph is hesitant to believe. We can’t blame him!
So God sends an angel who speaks to Joseph in a dream. Joseph is convinced. His anxiety is gone. Joseph believes the unbelievable. Joseph chooses to trust God and love Mary. The two now live together and share a home. This will most certainly raise eyebrows in their hometown of Nazareth.
Busybodies standing on the street corner will assume that Joseph and Mary conceived the child during their engagement instead of waiting to be married. “What nerve, those two!” Nazareth was a very small town – only 2,000 people lived there – so gossip of this sort would travel quickly.
The angel continues, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because he will save His people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). “Jesus” is the English form of the Hebrew name, “Joshua.” It means “Yahweh saves.” The child’s name is Joshua – or Jesus – because this Son will save His people from their sins. Jesus will pay the price for all sin – lock, stock, and barrel! And we need it! Oh God, do we need it! We are so incomplete without it! We have financial problems – yet if all our money problems vanished today, our lives still wouldn’t be perfect. If all our political problems vanished today, our lives still would not be perfect.
If everyone’s psychological problems vanished tonight, or all of our family problems and all of our health problems were solved, our lives would still be empty and lack completion. That’s because of who we are – people who need to be saved from our sins. Contrary to what we tend to think we are not Superman or Superwoman. We cannot save ourselves.
There’s an old Pogo cartoon that hits the nail on the head: “I have met the enemy and he is me!” Every political, social, or psychological problem is the result of our fallen condition. That’s why Jesus did not come as an economist, a sociologist, or as a family therapist. His name is Jesus, “because He will save His people from their sins.”
I experience joy and peace when I recognize that I cannot bring my life to a successful conclusion. I just can’t, and I have tried. My biggest problem is me, and your biggest problem is you, so we need a Savior to rescue us from our sins. If we come to Jesus for any other reason – such as hoping He’ll make us popular or successful – we will be disappointed.
Jesus has more important problems to solve than our unpopularity and our failures. Those are just symptoms of the root issue. Jesus lays down His life to save us from the sin that is alienating us from God and from each other; all the while threatening to destroy us. Jesus, the Son of Mary, is our Savior. He isn’t another prophet; another rabbi; another wonder-worker.
Jesus was the One they’d been waiting for to complete God’s story of salvation; to deliver His people from exile; to establish God’s reign and rule; to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim Good News to the poor; to be the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus is our Seventh Seven! And “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet [Is 7:14] – ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:22–23). “God with us” is what Matthew’s Gospel is all about. It appears in the beginning, and in the middle, “Where two or three gather in my name, there I am in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).
And yes, in Matthew’s very last verse, Jesus says, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) Jesus, the Son of Mary, is not only our Savior from sin. This Son of Mary is Immanuel God with us, up close and personal. Immanuel is also God in us and God behind us and Immanuel is God going before us.
Jesus is God up close and personal – entering our muck and mire, our chaos and our deep confusion. We see it most profoundly on the day of deepest darkness. On that day we all grabbed hold of Immanuel, nailed Him to a cross and cried out, “Leave us alone! Leave us alone!”
To this day, our every sin demands exactly that – for us to be left alone by God, forever. That’s what hell is. On the other side of Good Friday, though, Immanuel lives! There was the cradle and there was the cross, but, conquering death, Immanuel now wears the crown. Jesus, God with us, completes our story!
Jesus fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. He came to crush the serpent’s head; to be our Great High Priest; Isaiah’s Suffering Servant; Jeremiah’s Righteous Branch; Daniel’s Son of Man; Amos’ Roaring Lion; Haggai’s Desire of all the nations; Zechariah’s King riding on a donkey; & Malachi’s Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings.
Jesus is God predicted through the prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist. The Son of Mary, our Savior and our Immanuel is not a figment of our imagination or the projection of our own desires. Jesus is the Lord our God. Jesus is the Savior of the world, and the substitute for all our sin. Jesus is more loving, more holy, and more wonderfully merciful than we ever thought possible. Every last bit of God’s forgiveness, grace and love are packaged and delivered to us in two marvelous Hebrew names – Jesus and Immanuel – our Seventh Seven. They complete your life and your story. These names are His Christmas gifts for you, forevermore! That is Jesus, the son of Mary. Amen.
What Child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping? Whom angels greet with anthems sweet while shepherds watch are keeping? This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing; haste, haste to bring Him laud, the babe, the son of Mary. Why lies He in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding? Good Christian, fear; for sinners here the silent Word is pleading. Nails, spear shall pierce Him through, the cross be borne for me, for you; hail, hail the Word made flesh, the babe, the son of Mary! Amen. LSB 370:1-2.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet