Second Student Ministries: December 19, 2012
Christmas Words: Immanuel
Introduction: Think about a time when you were very afraid or very upset. Were you alone? Who came to be with you in that time and support you?
- Immanuel/Emmanuel (spelled both ways) translates to mean “God with us.”
- Immanuel is a Hebrew word, the language of the Jews, God’s chosen people. The Old Testament is largely a narrative story of the Jews.
- Appears in both the Old Testament (more than 700 years before Jesus was born) and the New Testament
Part One: “Immanuel” for Isaiah
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin will conceive and bear a song, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
Isaiah is speaking to Ahaz, the king of Judah regarding his decision about an impending war with two powerful neighbors.
The climate in Judah was full of fear and terror. Earlier in Isaiah 7 we read, When the house of David was told, Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz (the king) and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind. Isaiah 7:2
God sent Isaiah to the king to give him this prophecy or message from God. He uses the word Immanuel to remind the people of Judah that even in their most fearful, dangerous moment he is still with them. They don’t face the danger or the heartache alone.
Part Two: “Immanuel” for Matthew
Matthew is written 750 years after Isaiah, and the Jewish people are under the control of the powerful Roman Empire. They are being oppressed by Roman tax collectors and officials and don’t have legal rights as Roman citizens.
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, and angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 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 will us). Matthew 1:18-23
To Matthew, and the Jews living in the first century under Roman control, the word Immanuel meant that God was still with them, even in their time of suffering.
It also meant that God had kept the promise he made in Isaiah, had sent the sign that he was, literally now, with them.
Part Three: “Immanuel” for Us
2012 has been a great year for some of us. Eli Manning and the Giants defeated Tom Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The USA Olympic Swim Team made a video of “Call Me Maybe” and delighted viewers everywhere. Taylor Swift reminded us all that “We are never, ever, ever, getting back together.”
2012 has been a terrible year in some other ways. Innocent people were killed at a movie theater in Colorado, and more than twenty people, including children, lost their lives last week in a shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut. This kind of evil and pain can be so hard for us to process.
2012 brought some of you some personal heartache too. Some of you faced disappointments in your personal life, people may have let you down in some big ways, or you lost someone close to you.
In Matthew 28 Jesus has already been crucified and has risen from the dead. He has appeared to many people following his death. Now the disciples of Jesus are gathered on a mountain and he speaks to them again.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:8-20
The fear and the evil didn’t end for them that day. Most of Jesus’ disciples suffered, and were even killed for their testimony. Jesus didn’t promise that our lives would be free from pain here on Earth.
But his last words on earth were a promise that he would be with us, even to the end of the age. “Immanuel-God with us.”
Conclusion – Bowed heads
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
Doesn’t always feel like God is there in the pain. In the shootings, in the darkest hour of yours.
For Isaiah living in ancient Judah, for Matthew living under Roman control in the first century, and for us in 2012, the word Immanuel reminds us that right in the middle of our pain and fear God is with us.
Think back to that moment you when you were upset of scared. I hope that there were people who loved you and supported you through that. But the message of the word “Immanuel” is that you are never, ever alone, even if it seems that way. Just like he promised, God came at Christmas to be with us. And this Christmas we celebrate Immanuel, our God is with us.