We have come to the last Sunday of Advent and we will be celebrating Christmas within a few days. As we come closer to celebrating this birth, our theme for our meditation is, “Mary’s Son is ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God with us’”.
One of the key things that the birth of Christ shows to us is the coming of Jesus in human flesh. That is why John says, “The word became flesh and made his dwelling among us”. This incarnation of God among human beings is the greatest encouragement for us to know that God is deeply involved with us human beings.
This morning we will be looking at the birth of Jesus according to the gospel of Matthew. Matthew says, “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”
Mary was engaged to Joseph but there was no sexual union between them, but she was found to be with child through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was born through a virgin because through this he was free from the sinful nature that passed on to all human beings through the sin of Adam. Because Jesus was born of a woman, he was a human being: but as the Son of God, he was born without any trace of human sin. Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
Joseph who was a righteous man wanted to divorce Mary when he knew that she was pregnant. Even though they were only engaged, Jewish law necessitated a divorce if one of the partners had been unfaithful. Joseph wanted to save Mary from shame and therefore wanted to divorce her quietly.
However, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid but to take Mary home as his wife because what was conceived in her was from the Holy Spirit. The angel also told Joseph that Mary would give birth to a son, and they were to give him the name Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins.
Names reflect the hopes and aspirations of the parents that the child will be. The name Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name ‘Yeshua’ or ‘Joshua’ in English meaning “Yahweh is the salvation.”
Jesus will save the people of this world from their sins. This is the primary purpose for which Jesus came into this world. Through his life, death, resurrection and ascension, he offers us the forgiveness of sins and the hope of eternal life. God sent us this saviour because our greatest need is the forgiveness of sins.
Matthew also records the angel’s words saying, “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). As we approach Christmas, we are constantly reminded that the coming of the Jesus is primarily so that he will be with us.
We all go through many trials and troubles and sometimes we wonder whether there is anyone who understands what we are going through. The incarnation shows us that God is very much with us and he will sustain us.
Even when we walk through the darkest valley, God’s presence is with us. He has always been there and continues to stand with us and help us. May we during this Christmas season truly experience this living and loving presence of Jesus our Emmanuel.
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