Pastor Jeff Struecker
December 20, 2023

It’s the week of Christmas. And I want to tell you this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. And I’ll let you know why because we’re going to revisit a topic we discussed months ago when we were talking about who Jesus Christ is and what he came to do. The theological topic we discussed is the person and work of Jesus Christ. And if you’re going to understand who Jesus is, of course, you have to focus on the virgin birth.

You see, if you were to ask people on the plane, “Have you ever heard of the name of Jesus of Nazareth?” 99 out of 100 people will tell you, “Yes, I’ve heard that name before.”

In most Western countries, most developed countries— if you ask most people, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Most people will say, “Yes, I guess I believe in Jesus.” But by that word, they mean, “I believe there was a guy by the name of Jesus who lived a long time ago.” So he’s a historical figure, just like Abraham Lincoln, just like George Washington, who lived a long time ago. And I believe those two guys existed because I got their picture on American currency. Well, Jesus is fundamentally different than any human being who was born before him or who will come after him.

When I ask people, “Do you believe in Jesus?” I’m not asking them if they believe he was a historical figure like George Washington, who lived long ago. I’m asking, “Do you believe what the Bible says about Jesus?” Because from the very beginning, literally before he took his first breath on earth, Jesus was different than any other human being. Jesus didn’t have an earthly father and an earthly mother coming together in a sexual relationship and having a baby. Jesus was placed in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, and no one on the planet, not even the most talented medical doctor, can explain exactly what happened when God put a baby inside of a virgin girl. And Jesus’ virgin birth is one of the first ways that we recognize this guy. This name is different.

Did you know that when God was preparing Mary and her husband Joseph to have Jesus and to name Jesus—which was typically the responsibility of the husband—God let them know, “You don’t even get a chance to choose his name. I’ve chosen his name for you because He’s my Son. Not really your son. And I’m going to tell you what his name is.”

Here’s the moment where the angel tells Joseph and Mary the name of Jesus. This comes from Matthew 1:23.

Verse

They actually named him Yeshua. Yeshua is the Aramaic Hebrew word– “Joshua” which means he saves his people. But, the biblical name here, the name that represents who he is and what he came to do, is the name Immanuel. The name Immanuel means God came to be with us. What that name is saying is that Jesus is different than anybody else because Jesus is not like us. Jesus is God coming to be with us.

Listen, the name of Jesus is powerful because he is the one who can calm the wind and the waves when they’re crashing against the boat. He is the one who can calm the storms inside our hearts.

When we’re struggling with circumstances and difficulties in life, God gives the ultimate gift to people. God gave His people a gift that they didn’t deserve. And I hope you know this as you’re preparing to buy some Christmas gifts or open some Christmas gifts; a gift cannot be considered a gift if it was earned if it was paid for, or if I gave you something in return. If you gave me a gift and I tried to pay you back for the value of that gift, then it’s really not a gift.

God gave the ultimate gift, and His ultimate gift is Himself. God says I’m going to give Myself to you. I am going to come from heaven and dwell among you. And the word, the name Immanuel, means God dwelling in our midst.

God’s gift to us was a gift of Himself. So I want to ask you to think about something when life gets hard this week or next month. Here it is:

A Challenge

If God gave you this gift, what would he withhold from you?

If God would be willing to give you Himself.
If God would be willing to give you His Son,
If God would be willing to give up His Son’s life for you.

If that’s how much He loves you,
If that’s how much you mean to Him.

Then what would God hold back from you?

If that’s the gift that God gave us on Christmas, then what would our good Father possibly hold back from us?

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