Wednesday, December 14, 2011

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (Isaiah 40:6-8)

S-1284 3SIA/3B 12/11/11 Hymns: All from LSB (O) 590; S 357 vv. 1-4; LS. 349; 364; 383; (C) 357 vv. 5-71-4

Text: Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24; John 1:6-8, 19-28

Theme: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (Isaiah 40:6-8)

Question: “What’s in a name?” Armour, SD.

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the 3rd Sunday in Advent is from Isaiah: “A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever
.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)

In Nomini Iesu,

Beloved in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His book The Richest Man in Town V. J. Smith writes about a man who made a difference in his life. This is the kind of book when you read it you can’t put it down, tears will run down your cheeks and you will feel the lump in your throat. It is not a book that you like, but you love. In the town of Brookings, SD a very poor and humble man by the name of Marty worked at the Wal-Mart Store. He made sure every customer that came through his line was treated with dignity and respect. After he got the money from them, he would often walk over to them, look them in the eyes, shake their hands and thank them for shopping at Wal-Mart and bids them a good day.

That little treatment made a huge difference in the lives of many people but especially V. J. Smith that he actually wrote this book about Marty.

In the story, V. J. tells of the difference Marty made in the lives of many of the customers that came through his line. As the story of Marty is told we are introduced to a young lady about 50 years old who came by in his line one day but wasn’t herself. She didn’t have the usual smile. Marty asked her, “What was wrong?” Linda responded: “She needed a heart transplant and was heading to the University of Minnesota to have surgery right away.” Marty came out from the cash register, gave her a hug and told her “she would be ok.”

When Linda returned home, there was a card on her kitchen table from Aaron Martinson. She had no clue who Aaron Martinson was until she read the card that said: Marty from the Wal-Mart store. Three (3) months went by and then one day, Linda was in the store in Marty’s line. As soon as Marty saw her, he came over, gave her a hug and a kiss. V. J. Smith asked Marty why he sent her a card. “I just think if you want to be a friend,” he replied, “Sometimes you need to do a little more.” (p. 46)

To do a little more is indeed what this world needs and we see it in the text that is before us today. The prophet Isaiah tells us about the God who does all of these things and more; because He loves the sinner—you and me.

Isaiah is being candid in his teaching. He tells us ALL flesh shall pass away like the grass. But the Word of the Lord endures forever. What you and I have, own, possess and work for, will one day be gone from us. Everything that we know and love in this world will be gone; but not God’s Word—that Word shall endure forever.

Even the Lord, Jesus Christ taught us this golden truth when He said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31). Yes, we are to remember this valuable lesson and be confident in the Word of Christ that will never come back empty but accomplishes everything He sent it to do and will work everything for our good and His glory. (Is. 55:10-11; Rom. 8:28).

We see the power of God’s promises in what Isaiah has written and taught us. Few chapters later, Isaiah speaks of the Suffering Servant who would be wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities (53:5). And guaranteeing this deliverance is the power and faithfulness of God’s Word (55:10-11). These promises will not return empty. God said it. That settles it. Faith believes it!

The Word that Isaiah points us to is Emmanuel. Do you know who Emmanuel is and does? Emmanuel is God with us. God chooses to come to live with sinners for the benefit of sinners. He chooses to be our God even when we choose to be disobedient to Him. He chooses to love us when we are unlovable. And during Advent we sing the hymn and are reminded of His coming when we say: “Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, And ransom captive Israel, That mourns in lonely exile here Until the Son of God appear. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel Shall come to you, O Israel!” LSB 357 v. 1

In Bethlehem this faithful Emmanuel took on flesh and blood and He had a heart. He lived exiled from the Father’s home for 33 years. Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head” (Mt 8:20). Jesus was exiled, not only from the Father’s home, but finally from the Father. He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” (e.g., Mk 15:34; cf. Ps 22:1). His lips are cracked and He has a mouth of cotton. His throat, so dry He can’t swallow, and His voice, so hoarse, He can scarcely speak. To find the last time moisture touched these lips we need to rewind a dozen hours to the meal in the Upper Room. Since tasting the cup of the New Covenant, Jesus has been spit upon, bruised, and beaten. He has been a cross-carrier and sin-bearer, no liquid has quenched His thirst. And finally He gives up His spirit.

But all things and outcomes changed on the third day, when He burst forth from the grave and returned to life again. With and by His resurrection He assures us that we have a place with Him in heaven. “In My Father’s home are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you!” These sweet Words of Emmanuel, today in this place; bring peace and joy to our hearts.

Oh, the comfort of Isaiah’s Words to our ears and hearts my beloved one. Just as Isaiah spoke the Words to the Israelites who were taken captives to Babylon that God has not forgotten or abandoned them, so he speaks to us today with the assurance that our Emmanuel is here right now and forever.

All of us therefore, with great joy, join Isaiah during this Advent season and kneel at the manger bed of our Emmanuel. There we worship Him, praise Him and honor Him because of the blessings He bestows on us the sinner. For me—a sinner who didn’t desire Him, who didn’t deserve Him, whose only thought was to disdain Him, He, my God, came down to earth into human form to save me. Now that is good news. PAUSE.

Remember Marty the Richest Man in Town? {Emphasis mine} How he made life a little bit happier for others by doing the little things. Today, our Emmanuel, the Richest Man in the World {Emphasis mine} not only made the life of people a little bit happier. NO HE DID MUCH, MUCH, MORE!

Our Emmanuel, who was rich in majesty, beauty, holiness, faithfulness, justice and glory, gave it all up and became poor, humble and lowly. He gave it all up so that we can have it all in Him. Just like Marty would move from behind the cash register towards the people and shake their hands; so the Savior does more. He came from heaven to earth and opened His pierced hands to touch ours. He came not only to put a smile on our face, but to win forgiveness blesses with every spiritual blessing. He came to be God with us and prepare a place for us.

And He comes today in the Word, in the water as it was sprinkled on Dawson Adam Koehn and in the Feast of heaven as He serves us His body and blood at the table. And He keeps coming again and again.

On this third Sunday in Advent, I encourage you and exhort you to read more about the Man who made a difference in your life and mine. His book is rich with the story of love and forgiveness. His grace and mercy are new every morning. And when you read Emmanuel’s book (Lift high the Bible) you can’t put it down, tears will run down your cheeks and you will feel the lump in your throat. It is not a book that you like, but one that you WILL love.

Why? You might ask. Because this book brings healing, changes lives and make your life in heaven secure. It is a book that is a blessing to have, and joy to read. It is the book of our EMMANUEL. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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