Today we begin a series of messages called “Repeat the Sounding Joy!” We’ll be taking note of one special Christmas carol each week and find the Biblical truth there that we can apply to our lives right now. This week we go deeper with “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and discover one very relevant aspect of God’s nature!
This sermon is in two parts. This is part one. Part two can be found here
This is a great season, eh? In the calendar but maybe this year especially in the history of CCC. So a couple of reminders are in order. Don’t forget that we’re having a pivotal membership meeting at noon right here in the sanctuary. If this is your church you’re welcome to come but only official church members may vote to confirm Pastor Brad as our next Senior Pastor.
And while we’re on business mode, don’t forget that next Sunday will be our Staff Christmas offering, so if you’d like to bless our staff with a little extra this year that is something you need to pray about.
Have you ever done something and hoped that no one would notice?
I know of a tree company that won a contract for removing dead trees from a rather famous cemetery. And there was one large tree that was off the access road surrounded by a number of older graves, so there was some discussion about how to get a truck close to the tree so that it could be removed efficiently. They had a truck mounted crane available, so the decision was made to pluck up the gravestones, safely, respectfully, and lay them aside, put down a layer of thick plywood and drive the truck up to this rather large tree to remove it. It worked great! Until they had the tree safely down and it was time to put everything back in order. So did anyone write down where each stone belonged? Ah, no. So they may or may not have put the right names with the right graves. They put a stone with each grave and slowly drove away. Hoping that no one would notice.
There is always One who sees everything. And His name is Emmanuel.
The Greatest of all are given many names. And today, while we’re preparing for Christmas, we’re remembering that one marvelous name given to Jesus, the Messiah, is the Name Emmanuel. This name itself means “God With Us”. And in speaking about repeating the sounding joy and beginning this sermon series that has a Christmas song for each message, today’s, as you heard beautifully sung, is O Come O Come Emmanuel.
It was written by a relatively obscure guy. He was a pastor that didn’t have enough good health to endure the rigors of pastoring a church, so he devoted his life to God in studying and teaching and especially writing. He lived out his life and was fruitful in his lane because God was with him.
Rheinhard Bonnke is a famous evangelist who has heald amazing campaigns in Africa. A German by birth, he was considered by his family and most importantly in his own eyes, a nobody. He felt like a zero or Null, as he said with his German accent. But along the way, he met Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, with him. He realized that the Lord is like a number one. And then he understood something: if he, the Null, the Zero, stood next to the One, he became a 10. Our value is found when we stand next to the great One, Emmanuel, God with us. That’s what John Mason Nealle found true in his life and from that experience this great Christmas hymn came to be.
But here’s the question: did the Lord become Emmanuel at the birth of Jesus? So we had to wait until Jesus came to have God With Us?
Think first about Jesus. Jesus is God in the flesh. It’s crazy but crazy good that the Son of God became the Son of Man. And grew up in every human way and experienced what we experience, yet with absolutely no sin. And just ask the people He touched. Was He God in the flesh? Oh yeah. Emmanuel.
But here’s the answer to that question. The Lord didn’t become Emmanuel at the birth of Jesus. He was already Emmanuel.
Here’s the verses that you probably associate with the hymn we just heard.
14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
But does that mean that He wasn’t with us before the coming of Jesus? Did God become Emmanuel on Christmas?
He’s always been Emmanuel.
Jeremiah was a prophet in the Old Testament and lived many years before the birth of Jesus. He was struggling, wondering if God was far away in Heaven and he was alone doing God’s work on earth. Here’s God’s answer…
“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord,
“And not a God afar off?
Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.
And as if that weren’t enough, here’s another one:
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there.
Guess what, He’s always been Emmanuel, it’s just that Jesus is the proof and fulfillment of what has already been.
So what does that mean for us?
God is always seeing and understanding everything, even your thoughts. Before, during and after they’re forming. He is Emmanuel, God with us.
Is that good or bad?
Depends on the relationship, doesn’t it?
Let’s take a police officer and a judge. They are called Law Enforcement when you combine an officer arresting someone for a crime and the judge, after hearing the case, decides innocence or guilt and gives the appropriate sentence afterward.
That’s one relationship, us to law enforcement.
But what happens when the officer and the judge go home to his or her family? That’s a different relationship. Ideally the relationship of parent is an unconditional one, one that yes, sees the good, bad and ugly in people, but there’s a constructive solution that’s arrived at and the relationship is unbroken.
No doubt, God is Emmanuel. Always with us. He sees everything, knows everything, yes even that. And depending on your relationship with him, that’s great, or, it’s not.
If God to you is Law Enforcement it won’t end well for you. He sees every single lawbreaking moment. And all of that is stored up for a future court appearance. Will it happen? Oh yes. Remember, Emmanuel.
If your relationship to Him is parental and He’s your Father everything, wrong or right, will be used to make you more like Him and the relationship is of unconditional love.
Which do you choose? John 1.12-13
12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
So yes, God saw those tree guys. And He saw you, has been seeing you and sees and is with you now. That won’t change. But the relationship with Him who has always been Emmanuel, that needs to become parental by adoption. Have you become His adopted child? Then Emmanuel is a comfort and a fulfillment of a promise.
This Christmas season be sure and be blessed.