December 22nd, 2019
“Emmanuel, God with Us”
When we read the Scriptures, we may encounter stories of miraculously born people. Perhaps the first couple to have experienced a miraculous birth could be Abraham and Sarah. Both of these couples had a 100-year-old body were still ruthless until then. For a human reason, there was no possibility of having children. However, God opened Sarah’s womb miraculously and gave birth to a great man named Isaac. Other great leaders, such as Samson and Samuel, have similar birth backgrounds. They are the ones born by God’s particular intervention while their parents have not had children for a long time.
It was the Baptist John who first came to the New Testament and experienced this miraculous birth. The Baptist John’s parents are old. It was an elderly parent who, according to the laws of nature, had little chance of having a child born. Although they kept praying for their children, they knew they could not have their children. But then God promised them, according to that promise, a son was born to do the work of a great prophet who prepared the way of Jesus.
There are some miraculous birthers in the Scriptures. Among them, the climax of a supernatural birth is the birth of Jesus Christ. The reason why the birth of Jesus Christ primarily draws our attention and surprises us is that he was born through the virgin body. This fact was prophesied by Isaiah more than 700 years ago before Jesus was born.
In the text of today, we find that “all this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means that God is with us’’ (1:22-23). It is not well understood that a virgin will conceive and bear a son even though the prophet has already told us that hundreds of years before Jesus comes, ‘he will be born in a virgin body.’
The virgin birth of Jesus is a mysterious event that is not reasonably convincing. It is a mysterious event that transcends our reason and scientific thinking. Therefore, the virgin birth of Jesus has been attacked by atheists or by modern scientists and modern theologians for 2000 years. Some say, “How can a virgin give birth to a baby?” Some say, “Don’t be ridiculous. How can a woman get pregnant without a man alone,” and they are too excited to argue on that.
If some of you also could not believe the virgin birth of Jesus, even you understand everything in the Scriptures, go this way that you read all Scriptures carefully. You may find the evidence from Genesis that God already has the plan. Genesis 3:15 says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” We called this the original Gospel because God’s plan to save the people from this moment. It shows us potentially that a woman’s descendant comes and strikes the serpent’s offspring, which is Satan. It does not say that Adam’s descendant, but a descendant of a woman.
Besides, the prophet Isaiah prophesied about 700 years ago before Jesus was born. “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). For the fulfillment of this prophecy, Jesus was conceived of the Spirit and the Spirit of God. Jesus is the only person born without receiving the seed of a man. Therefore, Jesus is not a descendant of Adam, but a descendant of a woman. Remember the virgin birth was the sign of God that God gave us himself.
If some of you are still too much challenged to understand the virgin birth of the prophecy, think of Joseph. Perhaps Joseph was more upset and challenged to understand the Virgin Mary’s pregnancy than you do. The Gospel of Matthew 1:19 says, “her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.” Even though Joseph heard Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit, he might be challenging to understand it, and he wanted to divorce her quietly. If he spoke it out in public, Mary would be killed by stones in the public punishment at that time. So, even Joseph was a righteous man, he also struggled to accept the situation. At that moment of his struggling, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet” (Matt 1:20-22).
After his dream, Joseph took Mary to his home as his wife. We do not find any struggle and suffering with this issue between Joseph and Mary after that. Joseph was a Jewish righteous man, which means he was taught about that the Messiah will come from the son of David. So, the angel called Joseph as the son of David. Naming to him Emmanuel is that Joseph also knew through the prophecy. Even though Joseph also could not believe it, he finally accepted it as the holy plan of God. “Emmanuel” means “God with us.” The name Jesus means “the savior, the Messiah.” As the angel talked Joseph, Joseph named him Jesus, which means he believed that it was the miraculous plan of God to save the people. So, do not be challenged what Joseph accepted it.
If you are still challenged for the virgin birth, please think about God. Could you believe that God created all things? Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” If you believe this, all doubts in the Scriptures will disappear. What cannot God do that created heaven and earth with the Word? God created all things from nothing. The virgin birth of Jesus is the heart and the core of Christian doctrine because we can believe it by faith only. As like it, we are saved by the faith of Christ in the grace of God.
The virgin birth of Jesus is essential because the Savior who can atone for the sins of mankind must be sinless. To meet this condition, the Savior must not inherit Adam because the Savior must not be sinful. All human beings are sinful. A sinner cannot save a sinner. If Jesus was conceived as a man’s seed, he is a sinner also. The First Letter of Peter, says, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). Therefore, only Jesus, who was conceived of the virgin by the Holy Spirit, is our Savior.
The Savior Jesus comes into the world. His name Jesus was given by God through the angel. Jesus came to the world to fulfill the prophecy, which God promised his people to send the Messiah and save them. The prophet Isaiah said before Jesus was born, “for a child has been born for us, a son is given to us: authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Jesus is the One who will save his people from their sins. No other name is given to us to be saved. Acts 4:12 says, “No one can be saved because no one in the world has given us another name to be saved.” The more surprising thing is the Savior Jesus comes to us by himself and dwells among us. By coming of Jesus, Immanuel became a reality. God, who was the Word, in the beginning, came in the flesh. The Gospel of John says, “In the beginning was the Word, which was with God, and this Word is God” (1:1). And, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of the Father, full of grace and truth” (1:14). Believe that Emmanuel God is with you. We must live with the Immanuel faith that God is with us. We are weak, but God is strong. Believe in God who be with us always so we may not suffer from the worldly problem. I hope that God bless you be filled with the presence of God in daily life. May the living God be with you every day and every moment.
Thanks be to God, Amen.