S-1401 4SIA/A 12/22/2013 Hymns: LSB, (O) #592; (S) #357; L.S. 594; 618; 636; (C) #349
Texts: Isaiah 7:10-17; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25
Theme: “Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:13-14)
Question: “Why is it important for the family to be home for Christmas?” Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed! Alleluia! The text for our meditation is from the O.T. lesson: “…Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name IMMANUEL” (Isaiah 7:13-14).
INTRODUCTION: In Nomine Iesu.
Most precious people of God, someone has said that if you could convince a man that there is no hope, he would curse the day that he was born. Hope for all human beings-is an indispensable quality of life.
Years ago an S4 submarine was rammed by another ship and quickly sank to the bottom of the ocean. The entire crew was trapped within that vessel. Various ships that were in the ocean at that time rushed to the scene of the disaster, but no one really knew what that crew went through on those few hours underneath the water. Men bravely clung to all the oxygen that they could get until, slowly, it gave out. One diver who came to the rescue placed his ear to the side of the vessel and listened, and there were various tapping noises that were heard-someone was tapping in Morse code. The question being asked from that dark vessel was this: “Is there any hope?”
That is indeed the cry of all humanity from the time of the Fall! Throughout various circumstances, and in various situations, those cries can be heard: “Is there any hope?” The voice of the prophet Isaiah resonate with the message of hope in a hopeless situation as King Ahaz of Judah was being attacked by the kings of Syria and Israel.
God sent His prophet of old to bring comfort and hope to what seemed as an impossible situation saying; “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name IMMANUEL.” Most certainly, there is hope only for those who know this Immanuel personally and intimately. This hope comes not because we know Him, but rather because He comes to be with us and among us. The words of John Wesley capture this hope when on his deathbed he was able to confess: “The best of all is this: God is with us”’. He could have said various things, but he said that the best of all is this: God is with us. When God is with you, then hope is a living thing. It is not a wishful thing, but something that encourages you to look beyond the situation and circumstance to the One who holds everything in the palm of His hands including you. PAUSE.
How does this hope become ours? Isaiah states that Immanuel will be with us. Those words spoken to King Ahaz, the people of Judah, then, and now to us; is what gives us hope! What that means then, the Child born of the Virgin is God with us. That is, God comes to dwell in the Child born in Bethlehem who would be our Savior and Lord.
In this Immanuel our hope is fulfilled and revealed. It was the answer to a troubled king and his nation and it is the same answer to our troubled hearts also. This hope hidden in the Child of Christmas who many deny as the Savior and Lord of all humanity, but to us, who are in the darkness of sin this is our Morse code—God comes to be with and among us. It was also given to Mary and hidden in her womb and the lowly manger of Bethlehem; and given to us in Word and hidden in the bread and wine.
What a beautiful name for our Savior, Immanuel—God with us. In it are wrapped two comforting, consoling and encouraging truths. The first is that Jesus is totally without any dispute God. Eliminate that truth and what would that baby mean to us? He’d be just another baby, cute, no doubt, like all of them. And what would that figure on the cross 33 years later mean to us? He’d be just another innocent victim nailed there by some miscarriage of justice. No, He must be God, or else He can’t be our Savior. If He is not God, then He could only give us temporary hope. If He is not God, then His blood could hardly purify us from all sin.
The second truth in His name Immanuel is this: He’s “God with us.” What a comforting thought. God’s not far off, distant in the heavens, glancing at us from across the miles. He is with us in our flesh, on our globe, under our sin. He is with us in our sin, not to cause them or share in them but to save us from them and the punishment they bring to us—death. He knows what they are like. He has already paid for every one of them. He is with us in our sorrows and sadness, in our trials and troubles, in our agony and affliction. He is with us every step of our lives from the first breath we took. PAUSE.
Likewise, today, Immanuel is here. He is here in the simple water sprinkled upon Miliana Jo Montoya to make her His forever. He is here today to give her hope and future and guide her in her walk of faith. He is here today, as He offers us His body and blood on the altar to give not temporary hope but an eternal one.
Our Immanuel is here today in His Word. Through that Word spoken and administered in the Sacrament we have hope forever. Our Immanuel knows our weakness our failures and our sins. Yet, this Baby of Bethlehem, the Baby the prophet Isaiah spoke about in the text, chose to go the way of the cross and suffer for our sins so that we may know that in Him there is life and salvation. Because of what He endured for you and me, we can rejoice realizing the payment has been paid in full.
Our Immanuel is here today as we offer Him our services. Though we often get weary and seem to take three steps forward then five steps backward in our efforts, yet, He is here to take our hands and guide us to be faithful in our service. What a glorious name, Immanuel, Our Savior-God has, one that deserves our praise all the days of our lives!
It is such a blessing, a privilege and joy to know that no matter where we are in life, our Immanuel is with us—whether we are in the deepest valleys or the highest mountains. Whether our hearts are filled with hopelessness or filled with hope our Immanuel is with us. Whether we are lying on an operating table or lounging on a bed in the Bahamas our Immanuel is with us. That is our comfort and hope.
That wasn’t the case for the S4 that went down in 1928. As night fell over America, many prayed for their safety, rescue and freedom from the dark entombment. But, as the hours passed, so did the more optimistic call “Is there any hope?” asked S4 pathetically. “There is hope,” said S8. “Everything possible is being done.” 102 hours after the disaster, a stream of fresh air hissed into the forward compartment of the submarine. But the struggle had been in vain for the 40 men below. By 11 a.m., Thursday, December 22nd, air had been pumped into the compartment continuously for 13 hours, but still no further sound was heard. Death had come to claim the last of the crew of S4.
But unlike the efforts of man in saving man, though they tried their best, Baby Jesus, Our Immanuel saved us from a worth death-eternal death—through His entombment for three days and rising to a new life—He guarantees salvation to all who trust in Him as Lord and God.
“Is there any hope” is the question? And the answer is yes! POSITIVELY YES! Immanuel has come, and He is here even now for you. On this 22nd of December 2013, 85 years after that tragic accident of the S4, our SI—Savior, Immanuel has the done the impossible—to rescue and free us to live with Him forever. Because He is God with us, for today, tomorrow and forever!
Lord, thank you for coming to the manger and the cross to be my only Savior My Immanuel. Amen.
Now the peace of God…
SOLI DEO GLORIA