Have you ever considered the importance of the birth of Jesus upon your faith and human history? Have you considered God’s Love, behind that important event? On this 4th Sunday of Advent we celebrate the coming of Christ into history. It is not just the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, but the intersection of God into human history. We see this in our hymns and songs of the Christmas season. Sometimes it is hard to jump-start the love and joy in our lives, because we are wrapped up in the problems of the present.
This is a time to be joyful, it is the anticipation and the celebration of the coming of the Lord; yet we are faced with the realities. There are people laid off from work, just after Thanksgiving, only to show a profit on a company ledger. There is the reality of the family member, who died this year and we miss their presence. It is hard to find joy in the absence, and the sorrow. It becomes a tough time of year. It is the joyous expectation, and the clash of lingering disappointments, and loss in our lives.
Yet we are reminded how God, in His Love, sends His Son into history, and changes all of history, that we may be saved. The central theme from our readings is the message of God’s Teaching Love.
I Teaching of Love– Isaiah
In Isaiah, we see the prophesy of the birth of the Messiah in V-14.
The Lord is speaking to Ahaz whose name means “he has grasped”. He was the king of
He aligned himself with Tiglath
Pileser III the king of
Now the only reason I know about Tiglath Pileser the Third is because in my Old Testament class at seminary, we learned that he was the one in history who started the practice of up rooting entire populations and removing them from their land and putting them into slavery in another part of his kingdom.
This practice is what later caused the Hebrews to be carted off into slavery in
14 seems to be completely
out of context with the passage. Ahaz is worried about the tribe
of Ephraim (northern Judah)
Because God loved his people he saved them, in spite of their King. At the time of Jesus’ birth, some 700 years later, these 2 kingdoms were laid waste, and God again, is with his people in the person of Jesus. (Emmanuel – God with us)
II God’s faithfulness Teaches Love – Psalm like Isaiah
Psalm 80 is an
over view and outline of the purpose,
of the coming of the Messiah and
the call to God, to save his people. It is a plea
of the psalmist who calls upon
a righteous God, to be righteous. He also calls
upon God to be with
“O Shepherd of
The Covenant was a binding promise from the King to the subjects: from the one with power, to the powerless.
The call to God, “Restore us” is used 3 times: V-3 Restore us, O God.
V-7 Restore us, O God Almighty. V-19 Restore us, O Lord God Almighty. All 3 calls
ask that God to “make your face
shine upon us,- that we may be saved”. The plea is intensified with each request. The word face
in the Old Testament was
where a one’s attitudes were most clearly
expressed. It was a dwelling presence. Just as God dwelled in the midst of
In V-8 the word Vine is the symbol for
It is a simple metaphor. The warning and the message of Christ is, that we are the branches, and He is the Vine. We get all of our life nutrition from Him. Christ, and we produce the fruits of the Spirit. If we are not “in Christ”, and do not produce fruit, then God, the vinedresser, cuts off the nonbearing branches, and throws them into the fire. In light of this example, we must bear fruit “that we may be saved.”
III Paul’s Teaching of Love to those Called – Romans
In Romans, we see
Paul’s introduction to the book
with its lengthy description of
Paul’s call, identity, and purpose as an apostle to bring the gospel to both Jew and Gentile through the power of Christ’s resurrection. His identification is being in Christ, and Christ being in him. His proclaiming the Good News is to all in
IV The Teaching of Love – Matthew
In Matthew, we see the prolog to the birth of Christ. It is the realization of God dwelling in human flesh, and truly is Emmanuel – “God with us”.
We see Joseph’s character in his response to Mary’s pregnancy. He is described as a just man. His first insight was to divorce her quietly, so as not to bring dishonor upon her. He is her husband. He is devoted to Mary. Joseph was obedient to the instruction of the angel, and the fulfillment of the prophesy in Isaiah. His naming of the child “Jesus” (as the father) made the child legitimate (in the society), and a part of the lineage of David. Through this action, he was a reflection of God’s divine purpose, and love.
The meaning of Jesus’ name (Yeshua) is “God is salvation”, “God saves”, or “God will save”. It is the reflection of Christ’s purpose revealed in the psalm, “that we may be saved.” He is God’s dwelling presence. He is God’s glory revealed in Christ. This is Christ coming to us teaching us God’s love, as the living example. Christ comes in the fullness of history to “save us”.
Christ is the Living Word with its Shekinah. It is God in his earthly dwelling, in Christ. This is why Jesus is identified as The Word. He is the presence of God with us. God has come to dwell in the flesh of Jesus Christ. He is the spiritual and physical dwelling of Emmanuel – “God with us”.
IV The Conclusion Summation: God’s Love, What’s It All About?
We see how God as
the “Shepherd of his people”
sends his Son the redeemer who
comes to, rescue and restore not only the nation of
John 3:16 is a reflection of the depth of that love.
We have only to trust in His presence with us, God’s care for us.
Because it is Christ within us, who comes
Teaching the Love of God, that we may be saved…
In the Name of … the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen