Why is Christmas Such a Big Deal?

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During this year's Christmas Eve service, church member, John Pai, walked us through a meditation of Matthew 1:21. "She will bear a son and his name will be called Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." https://embassychurch.net/sermons/why-is-christmas-such-a-big-deal/ https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/why-is-christmas-such-a-big-deal/id1487389516?i=1000503692398

1. Good evening, my name is John and I am a member here at Embassy Church. Thank you to Pastor Phill and Embassy for allowing me to give the Christmas Eve message tonight.
2. It is Christmas eve today. Christmas is tomorrow. Seems like a big deal
3. In the United States, Christmas is a federal holiday. Although it is one day, we also call it the Christmas season.
4. Some Christians observe Advent, which begins 4 Sunday’s before Christmas for a time of prayer and fasting.
5. Christmas trees, Christmas gifts, Christmas cards and meals, Christmas lights and decorations, caroling, wreathes, mistletoes, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, and Santa Claus.
6. On a planet with 7 ½ billion, over 2 billion celebrate Christmas. Within a 36-48 hr period, 1/3rdof entire, existing human race honor this day
7. Seems big deal. Why is Christmas such a big deal? We’ll find our answer tonight in our text from the Book of Matthew.
Historical Context
1. Before we read Matthew 1:18-25 together, I’ll provide some context.
2. Written by the Apostle Matthew, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles
3. Audience: both 1stCentury, Greco-Roman Jews who accepted Jesus as Messiah and Jews considering to accept
a. In OT, God revealed Himself through His word for the last time during Prophet Malachi’s ministry.
b. By Matthew 1:21, it has been 400 years since the last time God spoke to his people.
c. Imagine your parents, and your parents’ parents, and your great grandparents, and your great great grandparents, all the way to 400 years past.
d. 16-20 generations of people who have come and gone, telling their children and their children’s children about how God will fulfill His promises, waiting for God to send His Messiah to liberate His people from governmental tyranny.
e. 20 generations later, Jews open Matthew’s gospel account, and read what we will read tonight.
Please follow along as I read Matthew 1:18-25.
For the rest of our time together, we’ll work through verse 21, starting with the first word “she”
Who is she? We know “she” is Mary. Over the course of church history, Christians have developed various views of Mary (was she chosen because she was holy, was she sinless in order produce a sinless child)
I would like to highlight two things we do know about Mary:
1. The first truth is that she was a virgin specifically chosen by God to play a role in His redemptive history.
a. Fulfill the prophecy in verse 23
2. Secondly, a common Catholic belief is that Mary was a sinless person since she’s considered the mother of God. Mary was clearly found in God’s favor but there is nothing in the bible that says that Mary was without sin. In fact Romans 3:10 says “none is righteous, no, not one” except God. So far, what do we learn about God?
3. What we learn about God through Mary, a born sinner but a chosen virgin, is that He is a gracious God who keeps his promise.
Illustration: Isn’t that amazing? a loving God showing His grace to undeserving people to fulfill the promises He made to them? *pause*
Imagine you’re a kid and your parents say to you, “Honey, we are going to take you out for ice cream this Saturday. Why you ask? Because we love you.” And you’re excited, but:
On Monday, you get into a fight with your sibling.
On Tuesday, you show your parents the F you got on your homework.
On Wednesday, you talk back to your mom and show an attitude to your dad.
On Thursday, you hang out all night with your friends and get home late.
And on Friday, you roundhouse kick a student at school and get suspended.
Saturday comes, and you’re thinking: “yeah that ice cream thing is not going to happen. I love my parents, but I disappointed them; I don’t deserve their kindness.”
And yet, your parents take you in their car, drive to the ice cream parlor, and buy you two scoops of your favorite ice cream, for no other reason except that they love you, that they show you grace, and they keep their promise. That’s God, but infinitely more. He graciously chooses a sinner like Mary to bear a son as a virgin to bring forth the promised Messiah. God is a gracious God who keeps His promise.
She “will bear a son”
1. Notice it doesn’t say, your son / bear you a son. Not Joseph’s son, but a son
2. It wasn’t that Joseph was displeasing to or was rejected by God. He is described as a “just man and unwilling to put her to shame” (v. 19).
3. The simple point is that Jesus was not the son of Joseph, but the Son of God. He did not bear the image of Joseph but bore the image of the invisible God.
4. Although Joseph was not Jesus’ earthly father, he was still charged by the angel to give Jesus his name.
She will bear a son “and you shall call his name Jesus”
1. The English name Jesus comes from the Latin Iesus which comes from the Greek Iesous which comes from the Hebrew Yeshua and Yeshua means “Yah saves”
2. Jesus’ own name proclaims the gospel. *pause
3. As exciting as that is, the Christian reader may find Jesus’ name to be a problem. In verse 23, the prophecy said that the Messiah’s name would be Immanuel.
4. “Immanuel (God with us)”
a. “THEY shall call his name Immanuel”. Joseph will call his name Yeshua but they shall call his name Immanuel.
b. For the past few weeks, Embassy Church sang many beautiful hymns to include “O Come O Come Immanuel” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” with the lyrics “abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel
c. Roughly 2,020 years later, we are still proclaiming Jesus as Immanuel (God with us). Jesus continues to be with us today, and we continue to fulfill this prophecy.
5. At this point in verse 21, the 1stcentury Jew might have thought, “why is his name Yahweh saves? Is it because Yahweh is going to save?” And the apostle Matthew answers: yes.
She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus “for he will save”
1. In the OT, salvation was almost always linked to God and what He did. I’m going to read some OT verses to you. You don’t have to turn there, and I’ll provide the bible references. But as I read them, I want you all to reflect on God’s word and ask yourselves this question: Who saves? Who truly saves?
a. I wait for your salvation, O LORD. (Gen 49:18)
b. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. (Ps. 13:5)
c. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? (Ps. 22:1)
d. You are my King, O God; ordain salvation for Jacob! (Ps 44:4)
e. For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Ps 62:1-2)
f. My eyes long for your salvation and for the fulfillment of your righteous promise. (Psalm 119:123)
g. I hope for your salvation, O LORD, and I do your commandments.
h. I long for your salvation, O LORD, and your law is my delight
(v. 166 and 174)
i. Last verse: “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2)
So, I ask you all again: who saves? In Matthew 1:21, Matthew writes that Jesus will save. What does that say about who Jesus really is? *pause
Wouldn’t it be amazing if this preborn child Jesus Christ was and is the same God in the OT who from time and time again saved his people from complete and utter destruction? *pause Wouldn’t that be amazing?
She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save “his people”
1. Who are his people? Jews?
a. Jews are definitely his people, Abraham’s descendants
b. During Jesus’ ministry, he told his disciples to proclaim the kingdom of heaven to the Jews first. He said, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt 10:5-7)
c. Apostle Paul said to the Roman church: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek (Ro. 1:16).
d. Jews were prophesied to be used as a vehicle of salvation for other nations.
2. So his people are the Jews. What about non-Jews? Most of us are not ethnic Jews. I’m certainly not. Probably. What about us?
a. Non-Jews are certainly included! Psalm 67:2, “that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.”
b. Paul said to the Galatian Church: “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Gal 3:8-9, cf Gen. 12:3).
3. The 1st century Jew who either accepted Jesus as Christ or considering is reading “his people” and thinking: I may be one of his people.
Reflection: Jesus will save his people. I ask you all tonight, *pause are you one of his people? Are yousomeone who has put their faith and hope in Jesus Christ? Are you one of his people that he will save from their sins? *pause
She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people “from their sins.”
What is sin?
a. ? External, overarching evil power, as one might get a sense of in Ro. 7
b. ? A stain in our environment of which we are merely the product (Ps 51:5)
c. ? Living organism out to destroy us, figuratively depicted in Gen. 4:7
d. Yet, sin is plural in Matthew 1:21. The responsibility is put not on something outside of us or something beyond our control, but our own personal actions.
e. Sin is a human action that personally offends God (Psalm 51:3-5)
f. Sin is any act of disobedience to God. There is NEVER a time where God is pleased with a sin
Author’s aim - Jesus is the Christ and Jesus Christ is Savior
Gospel (good news)
1. Triune God makes everything good; man created in God’s image
2. Three chapters into the bible, and man disobeys God, first act of sin. Adam and Eve, now unholy/unrighteous people, are separated from God who is holy and righteous (light and darkness cannot coexist)
3. Since then, every human being has sinned against God
4. God reveals his salvific plan to Abraham “in your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” He promises Abraham Jesus.
5. God the Son sends Himself down to earth in the form of a man.
6. He fulfilled the prophecy of the virgin birth as we read “she will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus”
7. Jesus Christ is God the Son in the flesh, sent by God the Father, conceived by God the Holy Spirit
8. Lived the perfect life, completely and totally sinless, holy, righteous
9. He was legally charged of crimes he did not commit and was crucified as the innocent God-man.
10. Jesus became a curse for us (Gal 3:13), Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21)
11. As bible readers, we witness God’s terrifying wrath and justice brought upon Jesus Christ. The terrifying wrath and justice that we sinners deserved was received by Jesus.
12. We also see God’s inexplicable grace and mercy in Jesus Christ’s substitutionary atonement
a. Substitutionary meaning Jesus put himself in our place
b. Atonement meaning to make right a previous wrong
13. Jesus sacrificed himself for us. Why? Our verse tonight said it, so that he would save his people from their sins. He died on the cross, and was buried.
14. On the third day, he raised himself from the dead, conquered death, appeared to his disciples for 40 days, and then ascended into heaven.
15. As promised, he sent the Holy Spirit to dwell in all of those who have put their trust in him.
Two Truths
Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah
1. Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT scriptures, the law, the writings, the prophecies. Jews: “is this him”
Jesus Christ is the Savior of our sins
1. God the Son was born so that we might be born again.
2. God was born once so that we may be born twice. (John 3:3-6)
3. Everyone has a physical birth. In order to be born again, or born of the spirit, you must enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
4. The eternal, infinite, preexistent God gave Himself a birthday so that He may be glorified in His salvation for the world.
What does this mean for us today? What is Embassy Church supposed to do with Matthew 1:21?
· For the past seven days at the advice of Pastor Phill, I allowed this verse to “simmer” in my soul. Question: Did it work? Then it hit me
· If it did, we have to tell people about this. We have to proclaim this good news. 7 ½ billion people need to know about Matthew 1:21. Eternal unity with the Father in Heaven is at stake for the spiritually lost.
· One of the best ways to do this is to simply share your story with someone you love. As a Christ-follower, your life was turned upside down after you encountered Jesus Christ.
· Share with others your deep love for your loving Father, your utter satisfaction in Jesus Christ, and your highest level of hope and faith through the Holy Spirit. *pause
· If you are hearing this message and you have not yet accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, or maybe you consider yourself a Christian but your relationship with him has gone stale and lukewarm, I would encourage you to pray to him. Ask him to forgive you, ask him to save you from your sins. That is why he came. Matthew 1:21 worked. It happened.
So, why is Christmas such a big deal? She will bear a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins. Matthew 1:21 is why Christmas is such a big deal. Merry Christmas everyone.
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