With that being said, let’s jump into what we heard from Isaiah for this evening…
Jesus Christ’s birth is prophesied in the OT
As we have discovered over the last four weeks, Isaiah wrote quite a bit about the birth of Christ. The interesting part of that is that Isaiah wrote these words a little more than 700 years before the actual birth of Christ. Many scholars believe that Isaiah might have believed that he and his contemporaries were going to see the birth for themselves. In hindsight, which is always 20/20, we know that Isaiah did not see this come to pass but that does not make the fact that he wrote, what we now know as Christmas Eve, about this night nearly a century before it actually happened.Isaiah 9:6–7 NLTFor 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. 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!
The prophecy of a virgin’s son
Isaiah 7:14 NLTAll right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
The prophecy concerning his birthplace
What Isaiah has given us over these last four weeks are some aspects of God’s character embodied and brought into our world and lives in Jesus: hope, love, joy, and peace. Which has brought us to the Christmas story for tonight. This story is a powerful story, filled with wonder and miracles and very real life. Jesus coming to earth is the most wonderful gift of all eternity. As we have walked through various parts of the Christmas story these past four weeks, we have explored the intersection of God with Us in the lives of real people who played a role in His arrival. And we have seen that as Jesus brought hope, love, joy, and peace into the lives of everyone in those stories in very real ways and we will discover that He will do the same for us today. “Bethlehem Ephrathah” is the village where David grew up (“the town of David”).
Retracing our steps…
Matthew 1:18 NLTThis is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.In our time together now, let’s briefly trace our way through portions of this Christmas story again, highlighting all that it means that God is with us. The first aspect of God we talked about was hope…we used the idea that Jesus brings hope into the world. There is this really great story at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke that we often gloss over. However, when Luke retells the Story of Zechariah and Elizabeth, we gain hope because he was an elderly couple who could not have a child of their own. Yet, God tells Zechariah that he and Elizabeth would have a child and this was a bright spark of hope- and who could not see the hope in their story? See also ; Then we traced our through Isaiah to learn that God With Us brings love into the world. Isaiah foretold of a time when enemies would become friends, wars would cease, and all would find a way to get along. Isaiah used imagery of a lion and a lamb would lie together that the bear would eat grass like a sheep, and a child would lead them all. And a child has certainly given us more hope and love than could ever be imagined. You know, one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies is “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”. I think every year I watch it at least a dozen times…just now I watch it when no one else is around because my family has gotten sick of seeing it on the TV. But one of the reasons I love that movie so much is that it reminds me of this story from Isaiah. A child teaches someone what it means to love and because of the child, the Grinch’s heart grows three sizes. A child’s love can warm even the hardest of hearts. It is love that reminds us that God is always with us.
Jesus Christ’s incarnation
; On our journey into God’s joy, we listened to our children tell us a story of today’s world, where we are often too busy to take time to really enjoy what Christmas is all about. They reminded us that it is not about what we do, how much we buy, or how much we give presents to others or ourselves as the case may be, but rather it is about what we can do to bring joy into someone else’s life. Christmas is about a child born to bring joy to the parents who raised him. And the great thing about sharing joy with others is that it is extremely contagious…just walk around with a smile on your face someday…while some will look at you funny, ultimately, others will catch your joy and begin spreading it to others.See also ; ; ; ; This past Sunday, we encountered what it means to have God’s ultimate peace. This peace is not the Utopian kind of peace that we often think of but rather about having the peace that only God can give us. The interesting part of this peace is that it is the peace of shalom, a concept deeply ingrained in the understanding of the ancient Jews. Even more than an absence of fighting, this shalom peace was a fullness of safety, completeness, and wholeness. This was the peace of restoration with God. It is the peace that settles our souls deeply. It is the calm acceptance that “it is well with my soul” no matter what swirls and storms around me. Because God is with us, this is the peace that is available for us. And it is the peace we celebrate today. It is also the peace in Advent that keeps us looking forward—when Jesus returns one day, He will heal all that’s been broken and restore God’s complete kingdom of shalom. Yes, then there will be the absence of war and hatred, but even that type of peace will be an extension of the wholeness that He will establish.
The circumstances of Jesus Christ’s birth
Because God is with us, this is the peace that is available for us. And it is the peace we celebrate today. It is also the peace in Advent that keeps us looking forward—when Jesus returns one day, He will heal all that’s been broken and restore God’s complete kingdom of shalom. Yes, then there will be the absence of war and hatred, but even that type of peace will be an extension of the wholeness that He will establish.
An angel informs Mary that she is to be the mother of the Messiah
And so that brings us to the center of it all, Jesus…Isaiah writes this for us to contemplate this evening…Luke 1:26–38 NLTIn the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Mary responds in praise
Isaiah 9:6 NLTFor 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.See also So tonight as we contemplate what it means to have God with Us in this day and age…take these words into your hearts. Isaiah describes Jesus as a wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting, and the prince of peace. In these words we hear echoes of each of the themes of Advent and yet so much more. Jesus was foretold by many of the Prophets in our Bibles but Isaiah is the one who is given to us to highlight what it means to live with one another in the light of Christ. Jesus came into the world to give us hope, love, joy, and peace and so much more. Jesus brings the world back into relationship with God, not the other way around. Jesus is the embodiment of God here on Earth, God with Us, so that we could identify with the one who gave us all that we are.
An angel explains to Joseph why Mary’s baby is so special
Jesus came into the world to give us hope, love, joy, and peace and so much more. Matthew 1:18–25 NLTThis is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph, to whom she was engaged, was a righteous man and did not want to disgrace her publicly, so he decided to break the engagement quietly. As he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. “Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ” When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.We have all heard the story of Jesus’ birth and yet tonight, I am hoping that you have heard it anew, in a new and inviting way and that when you leave this night, that you take the hope of Christmas, the Love of God
The birth of Jesus Christ takes place
We have all heard the story of Jesus’ birth and yet tonight, I am hoping that you have heard it anew, in a new and inviting way and that when you leave this night, that you take the hope of Christmas, the Love of God, the joy of celebrating the birth of a child, and the peace of knowing that no matter where you go, God is With Us, always! Amen.Luke 2:1–7 NLTAt that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.