Jesus Christ is Immanuel—Truly God and Truly Human

immanuel-god-with-us-behold-the-virgin-shall-conceive-and-bear-a-sonand-they-shall-call-his-name-immanuel-which-means-god-with-us-matthew-1-23-esvLook with me in Matt. 1:23, “they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” Matthew translates the name, Immanuel, for us, I think, for one reason. He wants to identify both the essence and work of Christ.

Who is Jesus Christ? He is Immanu-el—God with us. In Hebrew, the word, “immanu” means, “with us.” That is the humanity of Christ. The word, “el,” means, God. That is the deity of Christ (from the Latin, deitas, “divine nature”). Matthew is telling us that Jesus is truly God. But this God is also with us. Because this God is with us, Jesus therefore is truly human.

Last night, I read these funny letters to God from small kids.

   “Dear God, Are you a ninja? Is that why I can’t see you? Jacob”

    “Dear God, Instead of having people die and having to make new ones, why don’t you just keep the ones you got now? Jane”

    “Dear God, I am Amearican. What are you? Robert”

    “Dear God, Mommy says all babies cry, but I don’t think baby Jesus did. You must know the answer so please write back. We have a bet. Angelina”

    “Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying. Elliott”

    “Dear God, Why is Sunday School on Sunday? I thought it was supposed to be our day of rest. Tom L.”

    In the context of Jesus’ birth, “God with us” means, God now born. But in the context of salvation history, it means, God our Savior. God can only be with us by becoming one like us—a human. The only way to be human is to be born as a human. That is what God did.

If you were an alien, a Martian, you just cannot land on earth, take the form of a human body, and call yourself a human. You might look like a human being. But you are still an alien. The only way to be a human is to be born a human being. That is what God did.

Because of the birth of Jesus, he is thus called, Immanuel—God with us. That is what’s amazing about Jesus. He is God with us—in human form.

Thus, according to Matthew, this Jesus is truly God and truly man. He is the Savior God. He is also the human Savior.

This God left the splendor of his glory in heaven, came to earth, and became a little baby. I remember that old song, “He left the splendor of heaven, knowing his destiny. ‘Twas a lonely hill of Golgotha. There to lay down his life for me.” This God chose to be God with us. He chose to be born of a virgin. He fulfilled the prophecy by becoming a son of David.   He was born of shamed parents, to a world that does not welcome him. He abandoned his power in heaven for the love of unworthy sinners. Ultimately, He came to be with us in order to die for us, for our sins.

Jesus, the Crown Prince of glory, came from heaven to earth, to sit where you sit, to feel what you feel, and to embrace the pain in your life. Of all the religions of the world, only Christianity proclaims a God who chose to embrace the pain of people,[1] to save them from their sins. That is why broken people, oppressed people, imprisoned people, people in pain, and people in sin, can find in Jesus Christ, a true Savior, for he is the true God and true man—Immanuel, God with us.

Are you broken? Are you oppressed? Are you suffering in sin?

You might say, “Pastor, I’m okay.” No, we are all not okay. Sin has damaged our souls, our thoughts, our being, our world. We need the grace of God. That grace is found in Jesus Christ.   

Call on the Lord Jesus today. As God, he knows you. As man, he understands your pain. He will save you from your sin.

[1] Keener, Matthew, __.


Jesus Christ is the True Savior in Fulfillment of the Prophetic Scripture

Matthew writes that this is how the birth of Jesus took place. “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18). Betrothal happens one year before marriage. In Jewish law, betrothal is more binding than an engagement. If you are betrothed, you are called a husband. To break a betrothal, you file a divorce.

Here is the bad news for Joseph. Long before Joseph touched her, Mary was already pregnant. The worst thing is that this baby is not his baby!

Joseph could not accept Mary as his betrothed wife. In Deut. 22:23-24, a betrothed woman caught in adultery shall receive the death penalty.

If there is a betrothed virgin, and a man meets her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did not cry for help though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. So you shall purge the evil from your midst (Deut. 22:23-24).

That is the law of the Lord. You see, God wants you to reserve sex until you get married. You should not touch each other before you get married.

God’s Word calls Joseph a “just man,” a righteous man. (READ v. 19) He was a man who obeyed the law of Moses faithfully. Joseph was probably around 18 or 20 years old at this time.[1] But he obeyed God as a young man.

Guys listen! Being a just man, Joseph did not touch Mary. You should not also touch your girlfriend, who is not yet your wife. The right thing to do is to not touch a girl. Follow the example of Joseph. Do not have sex with a girl who is not your wife. That is the law of the Lord. If you do not touch a girl, you are a just man, a righteous man. If you honor God by obeying His law, God shall honor you.

But Mary is now pregnant. Hence, Joseph suspected that Mary must have committed adultery. Joseph knew that under the law, Mary can no longer marry him. Joseph must divorce her.[2] His decision was not out of anger, but out of obedience to God.

Also, Matthew says that Joseph was “unwilling to put her to shame.” “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (Matt. 1:19). I looked into the word, “unwilling” (Gk. thelo). It means, “wish, desire, want.” (Gingrich) Joseph was not wishing to shame Mary for her pregnancy. Mary will be accused of adultery. Mary will be shamed before society. Mary will be scandalized.   Joseph did not want that to happen to Mary. So Joseph resolved to divorce her “quietly” (v. 19). The adverb, “quietly” (Gk. lathra) means, “secretly.” (Gingrich)

But, and there’s a big “but” in v. 20.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).

Joseph was still thinking about how Mary got pregnant, how he did not want to shame her, and about his plan to divorce her. He was thinking these things until he fell asleep. While sleeping, he had a dream. In that dream, an angel appeared to him. In the middle of Joseph’s troubled thoughts, God sent an angel.

Brothers and sisters, you might be in the middle of a big problem. You might be in the middle of a big confusion. You might be in the middle of a big challenge. But in the middle of it, God is there. In the middle of it, God shall come in. He will guide you to make the right decision.

What did the angel tell Joseph? “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife” (Matt. 1:20). Joseph, don’t be afraid, for the baby is from the Holy Spirit.  

What are you afraid of today? Are you afraid of something that you do not understand? Are you afraid of something that might happen to you? Are you afraid of something that might destroy you? Brothers and sisters, that might be something from God. God shall see you through.

Then the angel said in v. 21, “You, Joseph, shall have a big role. You shall call his name, Jesus.” Notice that it is God who called Joseph. It is God who gave the name, Jesus, to Joseph. In vv. 24-25, we find that Joseph obeyed God. By this act of Joseph, Jesus is placed in the family line of David.

Then in v. 22, Matthew says that it all took place to fulfill prophecy. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’” (Matt. 1:22-23). Who then is Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ is the true Messiah by a miraculous act of God. Jesus Christ is the true Savior in fulfillment of the OT prophecy.

[1] Craig S. Keener, Matthew (IVPNTCS; ed. Grant Osborne; Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), ___.

[2] Leon Morris, The Gospel According to Matthew (PNTC; ed. D. A. Carson; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992), 28.

The Son of David by An Act of God

We noted earlier that Jesus Christ is the son of David by an act of Joseph, the son of David. In v. 21, the angel told Joseph that he shall call his name, Jesus. In Joseph’s day, the mother usually gives the baby a name. But this time, the angel tells Joseph to call his name, Jesus. In v. 25, Matthew writes that Joseph indeed did just that. Matthew is saying that by giving the baby the name, Jesus, Joseph in effect makes Jesus a son of David. Thus, Jesus Christ is the son of David by an act of Joseph.

But here in vv. 16, 18, and 20, Jesus Christ is the son of David, the Messiah by an act of God—the miraculous conception of Mary. Thus, Jesus Christ is the son of David by a miracle of God.

D. Patte explains that a son of David is not merely biological. A son of Abraham is one whose origin is from God. Matt. 3:9, “And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham.” Here we see that a son of Abraham need not be a biological son. God can raise up a child of Abraham by an act of God. Thus, in the miraculous conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit, Matthew presents Jesus Christ as the son of David by an act of God.

Jesus Christ is the True Messiah by a Miraculous Act of God

Last night, I read a funny letter from a little kid.

Dear God,

I know all about where babies come from. I think. From inside mommies and daddies put them there. Where are they before that? Do you have them in heaven? How do they get down here? Do you have to take care of them all first?

Please answer all my questions. I always think of you.

Yours truly Susan

In Matt. 1:1-16, a male ancestor of Jesus is called, “the father of.” “Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16). But Matthew does not call Joseph, “the father of” Jesus. Rather, Matthew calls Joseph, “the husband of Mary.” He presents Joseph, not as the father of Jesus, but as the husband of Mary.

In v. 16, he writes, “Mary, of whom Jesus was born.” It is not through Joseph that Jesus was born. It is through Mary, of whom Jesus was born. The reason is that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Matthew wrote,

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’ (Matt. 1:20).

It is not Joseph who caused the conception of Jesus. Rather, the Holy Spirit caused the conception of Jesus in Mary’s womb.

Matthew is careful to point out that Jesus did not come from Joseph in four ways. First in v. 16, Matthew does not say, “Joseph, the father of Jesus.” He says, “Mary, of whom Jesus was born.”

Second, in v. 18, he says that Mary is “his mother.” “Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18). Let me emphasize that the Bible calls Mary the mother of Jesus, but not the mother of God. God has no mother.

Third, Matthew says in v. 18, that “before they came together,” Mary was already pregnant.

Fourth, he says that the child is from the Holy Spirit. In v. 20, the baby is conceived by the Holy Spirit. Thus, Matthew emphasizes the miraculous act of God in Jesus’ birth.

Many call this miracle, the virgin birth. But scholars say it is inaccurate to call it, the virgin birth. Mary did not remain a virgin by the birth of Jesus. When Mary gave birth to Jesus, she was no longer a virgin. Rather, I prefer to call it, the virgin conception. That is the miraculous act of God in the womb of Mary.

This Jesus, Matthew writes, is called the Christ, the Messiah. Thus, Jesus Christ is declared by Matthew to be the true Messiah by the miraculous act of God—the miraculous conception.

Our Faith is Based on the Historic Christ

Our faith is based on the historic Christ, not on a myth, or legend, or one man’s claims. The faith of many today is based on one man’s claims. There was a Filipino man who claimed that he was the angel of the east. His name was Mr. Felix Manalo. He read the book of Revelation. It tells about the angel of the east. This man then said that he was that angel of the east.So he announced it everyone. The weird thing is that many people believed in his claims.So he formed his own church—the Iglesia ni Cristo. Now millions base their faith on the claims of one man—Manalo.

But our faith is in Christ, the goal of salvation history.It is not based on the claims of a Filipino, but of Christ.

Some base their faith on another Filipino—Mr. Apollo Quiboloy.This man claims that he is the “appointed Son of God.” All the claims of Christ in the NT, Mr. Quiboloy applies to himself. But this Mr. Quiboloy is a Filipino and a Gentile. He is never a son of David. He is never a son of Abraham. Matthew presents Christ as the true Messiah, the son of Abraham, the son of David. Since Matthew presents Christ as the true Christ, then anyone who claims the claims of Christ is a false Christ!

But we believe in Jesus Christ, the son of David.We believe in Jesus as the true Christ, the son of Abraham. Our faith is rooted in Christ, the son of David. We call his name, Jesus, for he saves his people from their sins.Who then is Jesus Christ?Jesus Christ is the True King of Israel. Jesus Christ is the True Product of Gentile History. Jesus Christ is the True Goal of Israel’s History.

Do you believe in this Jesus who is the Christ?Is your faith based in Christ, the son of David? Is your faith rooted in Abraham, in Israelite history, in Christ? Come to Christ today. He will save you from your sins.

Jesus is the True Goal of Israel’s History

Matthew presents the family history of Jesus from the time of Abraham to the time of Christ. “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matt. 1:17). The family history of Christ is the history of Israel in Davidic lineage.  In other words, Matthew presents Christ as the goal of Israel’s history. In fact, all the events of the OT points to the birth of Christ, the coming of the Messiah.

In v. 1, it literally reads, “the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.”Matthew gets this phrase from Gen. 5:1, where it reads, “the book of the generations of Adam.”In Genesis, the book of the generations of Adam begins with Adam and ends with his grandchildren. But in Matthew, it is the reverse. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ begins with his grandparents and ends with Christ. In effect, his ancestors looked forward to Christ.

Thus, Matthew sets up Christ as the endpoint of his family history.The family history of Christ is the history of Israel. The history of Israel is the history of salvation. For Matthew, then, Christ is the conclusion of salvation history. Christ is the goal of the salvation history of Israel.

In Genesis, Adam is linked to Noah; and Noah is linked to Abraham.In Matthew, Abraham is linked to Jesus Christ. Thus, the whole history of the human race links Adam to Christ.

The Jews greatly value the history of the Jews.The Jews believed in God’s acts of salvation in the history of Israel. They even believed that the bringing together of a husband and a wife is an act of God.To the Jews, therefore, history is significant.[1] Their history defines their identity.

Similarly, the history of Israel defines the identity of Christ.Christ is the son of David. Christ is the son of Abraham. The history of Israel from Abraham ends with Jesus Christ.

Do you believe in Christ today? Then your faith in Christ is rooted in history—Israelite history. It is rooted in Abraham. It is rooted in David. It is a history of salvation. In Christ, the history of salvation becomes our history, our salvation.

Curt Cizek tells about a Christian conference, where “the presenter spoke about his tour of the Holy Lands in 1998. The tour guide got on the bus, introduced himself as Amnon. He said that he was named after one of King David’s sons.

The presenter said, “You mean the one that assaulted his half-sister Tamar?” . . . They actually hit it off amazingly. Later, they were talking and the presenter asked Amnon how many Jews went through the Exodus.

Amnon said, “We all went through it.”[2]

That is an amazing answer. Amnon wasn’t yet born in the time of Moses. But he said, “We all went through it.” He sees himself as part of the history of his people.

In Christ, the history of salvation becomes our history.This means that our faith is rooted in salvation history. The history of Abraham is your history, your salvation. The history of David is your history—your salvation.The history of Christ is your history—your salvation.

[1] Craig S. Keener, Matthew (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1997), ___.

[2] Curt Cizek, “Tetelestai.” Cited December 21, 2013. Online:

Jesus Christ is the True Product of a Gentile History

Matthew shows Jesus as the descendant of Gentile grandmothers. “And Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram . . . and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, 6 and Jesse the father of David the king” (Matt. 1:3, 5-6). In v. 3, there is Tamar, the mother of Perez and Zerah. In v. 5, there is Rahab, the mother of Boaz. In v. 6, there is Ruth, the mother of Obed. Again in v. 6, there is Bathsheba, the mother of Solomon.

These four women have two things in common. One, they were all Gentiles or non-Jews. Two, they were undeserving of God’s grace.

Why did Matthew include these four women in Jesus’ genealogy? I think that Matthew wants to show that Jesus’ family is a family of Gentiles, or a mixed race, and by implication, a family of grace.

Let’s begin with Tamar. In Gen. 38, Tamar was a widow, the wife of Er, the son of Judah. Judah promised his other son, Shelah, to marry Tamar. But Judah sinned by withholding Shelah from Tamar. One day, Judah’s wife died. Tamar dressed herself like a prostitute and waited for Judah. Thinking that Tamar was a prostitute, Judah lay with her. She conceived and bore two twins—Perez and Zerah. Ugly story. But by bearing children, Tamar became a vital link in salvation history.

Then there is Rahab, the prostitute.  In Josh. 2, two Israelite spies stayed in the house of Rahab. The king of Jericho sent soldiers to arrest the two spies. But Rahab answered them, “The two men had already escaped.”

Afterwards, Rahab told the two spies that she believed in the LORD God of Israel, that God has given Israel the land. A few days later, the walls of Jericho fell. The army of Israel came inside and saved Rahab and her family from death. Rahab received the grace of God.

There is Ruth. She was a young Moabite widow. She loved Naomi, her Israelite mother-in-law, also a widow. One day, Naomi told her to go home to her family and land. But Ruth loved Naomi. She believed in Naomi’s God, the LORD God of Israel. She said the famous words of married women in Ruth 1:16-17, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” (ESV) Ruth received the grace of God.

Lastly, there is the world famous, Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah.You know the story. She was married; but she consented to lie down with King David. She committed adultery with David. Another ugly story. But the Bible does not hide the facts or embellishes the stories. The Bible says it as it is. Yet Bathsheba received the grace of God.

A little boy came home from Sunday School. His mother asked, “Who was your teacher?”

The boy replied, “I don’t know her name but she must have been Jesus’ grandmother. All she did was talk about him.”

Despite being Gentiles with an ugly past, God made them grandmothers of Christ. Despite their sins, God forgave them.

You and I are Gentiles.If God accepted these Gentile women, God can also accept you today by grace through faith in Christ. God forgave these four Gentile women, despite their pasts. God can also forgive you today, despite your past.God used these four women—the most unlikely people, to become the grandmothers of Jesus. God can use you today to do wonderful things for Christ. The inclusion of these Gentiles in the genealogy of Jesus shows that God wants Gentiles to come to Christ. Jesus commands us to go and make disciples of all nations, Gentiles, so that they can join the family of Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ is the True King of Israel

images“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1, ESV). Matthew shows that Jesus Christ is the son of David in four ways. First, Matthew identifies Christ as the son of David. As the son of David, he is not a fake king. Jesus Christ is the legitimate king of God’s people, Israel.

Second, in v. 6, Matthew traces Christ’s lineage through Solomon, and not through his brother Nathan, as Luke does. “And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah” (Matt. 1:6). Matthew wants to show that Christ comes from the line of David. Third, Matthew arranges Christ’s ancestors in three groups of fourteen. “So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations” (Matt. 1:17). The number fourteen is the number of the name, David. In the Hebrew, there are no vowels, only consonants. Thus, David is spelled DVD in Hebrew. The first letter D is the fourth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. D is equivalent to the number, 4. V (or W in Hebrew) is the sixth letter—equivalent to the number, 6. The last letter D is equivalent to the number, 4. Add the three numbers, 4, 6, and 4, and you get the number, 14. Hence, the three groups of fourteen generations of Christ correspond to the letters, DVD, giving the number, fourteen. Matthew is emphasizing here that the genealogy of Christ identifies Christ as the son of David. Thus, we see that Christ is not only a son of David, but the son of David, the long-expected Messiah, the King of Israel.[1] Fourth, Joseph names the baby, Jesus, making him the son of Joseph, and therefore, the son of David. In v. 21, in his dream, the angel tells Joseph to call the baby, Jesus. In v. 25, when Joseph woke up, he calls his name, Jesus. In the time of Joseph, women commonly named their sons. But this time, it is Joseph who calls his son, Jesus. Matthew is showing here that by naming him, Jesus, Joseph acknowledges that Jesus truly is his son. Since Jesus is the son of Joseph, then Jesus is the son of David.

Do you trust Christ as the long-awaited King of Israel? Your faith is based, not on a self-proclaimed king, but on the prophesied king, the king of Israel. Your faith is based on the Christ, the true King of Israel.

[1] Douglas R. A. Hare, Matthew (Int.; Louisville: John Knox, 1993), 6.

The Christ of Christmas: Who is Jesus Christ? – Part 1

This Christmas season, we ask the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” In Matthew 1, Matthew answers the question through a genealogy. A genealogy is the tracing of the family line; a list of generational families. Only Matthew begins his gospel with a genealogy of forty generations.

If someone asks you today, “Who is Jesus Christ?,” would you answer by saying, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ.” That is how Matthew answers the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” But Matthew is writing to the Jews. To the Jews, family history is very significant. In Matthew’s genealogy, he presents Jesus as the Messiah. Let us dig deeper into Matthew’s presentation of Christ here in Chapter 1.

The Worship of the Wise Men

And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh” (Matt. 2:11, ESV). In worship, they came for Christ, and not for themselves. We note three principles of worship here. First, the wise men gave gifts, showing what they can give to Christ, not what they can get from Christ. They came desiring to enjoy Christ himself, not the things of Christ. In worship, you come to Christ for Christ’s sake, not for your sake.

Second, they gave what was costly to them. They did not hold back from God their more expensive gifts. Gold then was expensive. Frankincense is like expensive Calvin Klein perfumes. Myrrh is a special aromatic medicine.

When we worship, we should give something costly. We should not hold back costly things from God. Many Christians come to church and give their “cheap” offerings—things that do not cost them something. But worship demands a costly offering to Christ who died on the cross for us.

Third, they gave to the Lord was what was special to them, what matters to them. They give these gifts to the Lord, because they are willing to give up what’s special to them, for somebody who is more special than anything else in this world.

In worship then, you come to the Lord surrendering your self-interests and self-centeredness. In giving gifts in worship, you’re saying that the Lord is more important than the things that are important to you.

What is important in your life? Money? Valuables? You give something important to Jesus. That is worship.

Then you give yourself. That is what Paul is saying in Rom. 12:1. “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”

That is worship. You give something special to somebody more special than you. You give yourself.

There are three ways you can respond to the birth of Christ. You can feel insecure about Jesus. You can feel indifferent about Jesus. Or you can be wise today, like the wise men. You can feel ignited about trusting Jesus as your Savior and worshiping Him.

The choice is yours.