Text: Matthew 1:18-23 By Pastor YAU December 25, 2011
1) All birthdays are special: If you have been invited to many birthdays of your friends, you may feel boring about them. But think about it: if it is your birthday, then it is not boring at all but very special. Birthdays are not just dates in the calendar they are landmarks of lives for the honorees. Life is marked by years and all of them deserve celebration.
2) But this one is very special: While we all treasure our birthdays and feel they are special, the birthday of Jesus is million times more special than all the birthdays in human history combined. The way he was conceived and born, the reason he was born for and the effects of his birth all made his birth and life unique and very special that all people of the world celebrates, including many atheist countries.
JESUS WAS BORN OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
1) Jesus, Son of God: “The angel answered: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the most high will over shadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) A glimpse of all the founders of religions throughout human history, except in mythical stories, they were all sons with human fathers. They were all children of sinful men, inherited the sinful nature of man. Regardless of how great and impressive their teachings might be, they couldn’t even save themselves from their own sins, much less save anyone from the sins of their followers.
2) Jesus, son of Mary: “This is how the birth of Jesus came about: His mother Mary was pledged to marry to Joseph but before they came together she was found to be with a child through the Holy Spirit.... All these 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.” (Matt 1:18, 22) The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is the crown jewel of the Christian faith. Jesus was not a son of man, but a son of a woman without a man. The essence of Jesus came from the Holy Spirit, not from the nature of man. This sets far apart Christian faith from all other religions and/or religious faith. This separates Jesus from all other founders of religion because he didn’t inherit the sinful nature of man.
JESUS WAS BORN TO SAVE THE WORLD:
1) Jesus has a mission: “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save the people from their sins.” (Matt. 1:20-21) How many of us have that specific assignment of mission before we were born? Jesus was not born to found a religion or to give great teachings of religion, but to save (deliver or rescue) people of the world from eternal loss.
2) Jesus completed the mission: “But now in Christ Jesus who once were far away have been brought near though the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing in his fresh the law with its commandment and regu-lations. His purpose was to create one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross by which he put to death their hostility.” (Ephesians 2:13-16) There is no need of explanation in the passage how Jesus had accomplished what God intended him to do before he was even born. No one in history, religion or civilization could or had done what Jesus was born to do.
JESUS WAS BORN TO FULFILL A PROPHECY: (1:22)
1) A 600 plus years prophecy: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord has said through the prophet: The virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son.” (1:22) This is a direct quote from Isaiah 7:14, over 600 years ago during the time of the captivity. While the Israelis were in exile, desperate with no home, God sent his message though Isaiah that eventually God will send them someone who will lead the Israelis out of captivity, return to their homeland.
2) Fulfilling that old prophecy: Have you heard anyone in human history, political leaders? Religious founders? Founding fathers of nations? Or anyone else who was born to fulfill a prophecy older than 600 years? The birth of Jesus was the only one that fulfilled a prophecy, a promise of God, to meet the needs of his people, to restore connection with God, to path a way back to God. God did not just foretell on the time, he also foretold the way the son will be born: born to a virgin, a supernatural divine intervention of human nature.
JESUS WAS BORN TO BRING GOD TO MAN: (1:23)
1) God’s purpose in Jesus’ birth: “The virgin will be with a child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, which means, “God with us.” (1:23) In the birth of Jesus, God became man in human fresh to dwell among men. This is a supernatural act God did to connect men with him. In all religions throughout history, men need to try, do, devote and offer sacrifices to get close to their gods, hoping someday, somehow they will be accepted by their gods. But in the birth of Jesus, God came to dwell among man in human form to save men from their sins. God didn’t just do a miracle, he did the miracle for a good purpose, to be with man.
2) Jesus’ birth brought grace and truth: “The Word became fresh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) The birth of Jesus brought grace to man so man may be saved through his faith in Him. His birth also brought truth of God to man so man may see who God is and how God works. John further explained the role of Jesus in 1:18: “No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only who is at the Father’s side, has made him known.” No religious founder may bring the truth and grace of God to man except our Lord Jesus Christ who came from the Father to dwell with us.
1) It is time to celebrate: No other day in human history is better to celebrate the blessing of God than the Christmas day. This is the day God sent His One and Only to dwell with us, to show us the truth and grace of God and point to us the path of returning to God. This is the day we need to express our heartfelt gratitude to God for His sacrifice of His own Son. Instead of focusing on gifts, party and food, let us focus on the gift of God in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2) It is time to receive Jesus: If you haven’t received Jesus as your Lord and Savior, today is the best day to do just that. To enjoy Christmas without receiving Christ as your Savior, to give you eternal life is too much a waste of the occasion. God plans this occasion for a long time for you to receive His grace. Do not push it away by hardening your heart. Make that commitment to become children of the living God today.