Immanuel - God with us, the giver of life and light

Christmas 2021  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  15:05
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Main Preaching Theme: The life giving power of Jesus the Messiah brings hope, joy, peace and salvation.
Scene 1: We celebrate Christmas
A special time of year, a time of hope, of joy.
Shops fill with things we should not eat.
Carols are sung.
Most people go on holidays.
There is an emphasis on good will.
Gifts are wrapped.
Family gatherings are had.
Many people look forward to this time, a time when for a few moments they can forget the trials of life and just enjoy family and friends.
For many others they hope that Christmas is really a time of peace.
A time when the hurts and pains of life will somehow melt away.
When the broken heart will be mended
It is the dream of humanity that times of struggle will be over, times of war will cease and that man can live in peace with his fellow man.
This year in the Christmas messages of world leaders we will hear these leaders calling on people to work towards peace.
To seek compromise in the name of getting along together.
The hope of humanity is that we can all get along together.
That not only will wars cease, but all people can live a good life.
A life free from hunger and oppression.
A life free of disease and discrimination.
A life of safety and prosperity.
People still look for a solution.
Yet they miss that the solution has already been presented.
Scene 2: The Apostle Matthew identified Jesus as the Messiah
The one who brings hope, joy peace and salvation.
Matthew 4:12–17 NLT
12 When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. 13 He went first to Nazareth, then left there and moved to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali. 14 This fulfilled what God said through the prophet Isaiah: 15 “In the land of Zebulun and of Naphtali, beside the sea, beyond the Jordan River, in Galilee where so many Gentiles live, 16 the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light. And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.” 17 From then on Jesus began to preach, “Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
Matthew skips over the very early ministry of Jesus in Nazareth and moves straight to the time when Jesus took up residence in Capernaum.
This was the hometown of Peter and John.
“Capernaum” meant “village of Nahum.”
It was located on the Sea of Galilee and became the centre of Jesus’ Galilean ministry
Galilee was a mixture of both Jews and Gentiles, the majority being Gentiles.
This Gentile area was looked down on by the Jews of Judea.
In verse 16 it says “The people who were sitting in darkness”
It was a resort area, full of gentiles.
So all the issues that we see in a resort area of today would have existed back then.
Various reasons have been suggested as to why Jesus spent so much time in Galilee and especially around the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Two major highways intersected there.
The resort city of Tiberias attracted many of the sick who hoped the spas there could help.
In Galilee Jesus could attract a group of disciples while avoiding an early negative reaction from the leaders of Jerusalem. [1] [2]
It was a place where he had freedom to perform many miracles.
To minister to the broken, and the oppressed.
To gather large crowds and teach them that God was interested in a relationship with them.
To teach his disciples about the true nature of the Messiah and that his Kingdom was not about immediate political freedom, but eternal life in God’s Kingdom.
Everyone expected the Messiah to minister primarily to Judea and Jerusalem.
But he didn’t and Matthew picks up this fact and shows us that it is fulfilment of the ancient prophecy of Isaiah chapter 9 verses 1 to 7.
It referred to a time 730 years earlier.
Not to a time of peace and prosperity.
Not to a time of love, joy and hope.
But to a time of despair and darkness.
In 734 BC the power of the Assyrian Empire was about to devastating the lands just to the north of Jerusalem.
Whole villages around the Sea of Galilee in the tribal areas of Zebulun and Naphtali would be destroyed and those who survived would be carried off to captivity.
The land was laid waste and repopulated with those the Assyrians had taken captive in other places.
Community and cultural belonging were simply destroyed and those who were dumped there had to start over.
With no sense of belonging, no connection to the land and few surviving relatives to rebuild with.
Scene 3: “Nevertheless” Isaiah 9:1-7 brings hope
Isaiah 9:1–7 NLT
1 Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. 2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. 3 You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. 4 For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. 5 The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire. 6 For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!
With just one word,
Isaiah erases all of the gloom of darkness over the earth and foresees the dawn of a “great light,”
Bringing hope even to those who live in the land of the “shadow of death” (v. 2).
How true to the character of God!
Not even the darkest gloom can keep the light of His presence from shining, even upon those who live in the land of the shadow of death.
At the 1989 World Congress on Evangelism, or Lausanne II, in Manila, testimonies from Christians around the world were highlighted by the witness of a Chinese believer who had been imprisoned for his faith.
Demeaned as a human being and isolated from human contact, his cell was in a dark dungeon and his work assignment was to clean the sewers deep in the underground darkness.
He told of standing up to his knees in human waste going about his repulsive work.
But against the stench and pollution of the sewer, he began to sing,
I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear
Falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses,
And He walks with me
And He talks with me
And He tells me I am His own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
When his captors realized that they could neither break his spirit nor put out the brightness of his song, they released him to tell his story far and wide.
Needless to say, wherever he went, revival followed and village after village came to Christ.
The life giving power of Jesus the Messiah brings hope, joy, peace and salvation.
Even in the midst of utter darkness.
Isaiah wrote a prophecy of encouragement.
The Lord gave Isaiah the privilege of seeing hope, joy, peace and the promise of salvation for every corner of the earth, including the “Galilee of the Gentiles”
A child will be born and “judgment and justice” will prevail (v. 7).
One name is not enough to identify the child of the future.
Rather, the Child of Four Names is introduced to us:
“Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace” (v. 6).[3]
Scene 4: The hope these words speak of in Isaiah are fulfilled in Jesus Matthew 4:14, 17
Matthew got it.
He realised that right in front of him was the fulfilment of the prophecy.
The Messiah that Israel had looked for for so long had arrived.
He had come for all people, not just the Jews but for the Gentiles as well.
He came with a message of salvation.
Joy and peace in this life.
Hope for eternity.
And life everlasting for all who would believe.
His requirement is simply.
And Matthew tells us his message in chapter 4 verse 17.
“Repent of your sins and turn to God for the Kingdom of Heaven is near.”
The life giving power of Jesus the Messiah brings hope, joy, peace and salvation!
Will you joyfully embrace the hope and peace of the salvation he offers?
Video Clip: We Celebrate Christmas
[1] Bailey, M., Constable, T., Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. (1999). Nelson's New Testament Survey : Discover the Background, Theology and Meaning of Every Book in the New Testament (11). Nashville: Word. [2] Utley, R. J. D. (2000). Vol. Volume 9: The First Christian Primer: Matthew. Study Guide Commentary Series (29–30). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International. [3] McKenna, D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1993). Vol. 17: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 17 : Isaiah 1-39. The Preacher's Commentary series (136–138). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.
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