Title: Immanuel

Bible Book: Matthew 1

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Christmas; Jesus; Christ; Birth of; Immanuel



Somewhere I read the humorous story from the Tennessee hills. In seems that in the late 1800,s in the eastern part of Tennessee, there was a famous moonshiner know as "Big Haley." Big Haley was a woman whose real name was Mahala Mullins. Mahala weighed around 500 pounds, so she became known as "Big Haley."

It is said that she and her sons ran their illegal business in an honest way - though I know that is an oxymoron. They were known far and wide for the great quality of their product. They did not dilute their moonshine and dealt with people fairly. For years the local government officials pretty much left them alone, but one day a newly-elected sheriff tried to arrest Mahala and, thereby, sought to make a name for himself. The judge signed the arrest warrant, smiled and told the sheriff to bring her in personally.

The sheriff and his deputies had no trouble finding Mahala. He knocked on the cabin door, was invited in and proceeded to inform Mahala that she was under arrest. What he discovered, however, was that Mahala was bigger than the cabin's door. After some futile efforts failed, he decided not to arrest her after all. When the judge later asked the sheriff about Mahala, he replied, "Judge, Big Haley is catchable but not fetchable."

There are some things in life that are like that. They may be catchable, but in the language of the mountain people, they are not fetchable. It is just hard to get your arms and minds around some things in this world. But, be assured that Jesus came as Immanuel, God with us, so that we might do more than catch a glimpse of God. He came that we might be able to lay hold of God, or better yet that He might lay hold of us. He came to be with us, and to prepare those who receive Him to ever be with Him. I want us to see three reasons why Jesus came to be Immanuel, God with us.

I. To Rescue us from Danger

Jesus told us Himself why He came into this world. Look at Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." We see clearly that Jesus came to seek and save, that is to rescue us. The songwriter penned it thus,

"Jesus sought me when a stranger,

Wandering from the fold of God;

He to rescue me from danger,

Interposed his precious blood."

From what did Jesus come to rescue me? In Matthew 1 we read that He came to save us, or rescue us, from our sins. Saving or rescuing implies great danger, for a person does not need to be rescued unless he or she is in peril and without help of rescue alone.

Look at another passage that points us just how lost we are when we are without the Savior, "How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard him" (Hebrews 2:3).

Indeed, just how can a person escape the judgment for sin? Outside Christ, there is no escape. He came for that distinct purpose – the rescue us. This passage points out that we are held in the grip of our sins, for they are like prison bars or shackles binding us. Our Lord is Immanuel – He came with the “key” (His own blood) to rescue us from the prision of our own sins. We read in Proverbs 5:22, "The evil deeds of a wicked man ensnare him; the cords of his sin hold him fast." We need to be freed from sin and freed from the course on which sin has us. Only Jesus can do that!

Think of sin as quicksand. A man is trapped in the mire of his own transgressions. Every day a person lives he or she sinks closer to destruction. Every attempt to get out of the quicksand of sin only sinks us deeper and closer to death. Unless someone comes along to pull the poor soul out of the distress, all hope is lost. Thanks be to God! Jesus came to be Immanuel – God with us – to rescue us from our own folly.

Sadly, however, while a person is mired in sin, self-esteem comes along and tells the sinking soul that all he needs to do is think better of himself. He should not think of himself as in mud but he should see himself as victorious over the mud. He feels better for a day or two, and then he realizes that he is actually still in the quicksand and sinking lower every day.

The next day religion comes along and tells him that he can pull himself out. He takes hold of religion and feels victory will be won, only to sink down lower in the muck and mire.

Education comes along and tells him that the quicksand is the result of ignorance. So the trapped man begins to think on intellectual matters. He feels better for a few hours. He feels he is going to conquer the quicksand. But, then, he falls back even deeper as all intellectual effort fails to bring peace.

The sinner is in despair. What can he do? He looks up and sees a hand reaching down to him. It is the hand of a man who is dressed in shinning white garments. "Trust me, I can save you. My name is Jesus." The poor man puts out his hand and takes the nail-scarred hand of Jesus. As quickly and suddenly as he does this, he is pulled from the mire. It is as if he never fell into the quicksand at all! He is rescued, he is clean!

How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation? The answer is, you cannot escape, for there is no other name whereby we must be saved but Jesus! If you have never reached out to take His extended hand, do so today. Listen to what the Psalmist said when he was mired in the mud of sin but then turned in faith to trust the Lord. We read in Psalm 40:2,

"He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire;

He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand."

Yes, we can sing with the songwriter,

"Love Lifted Me,

Love lifted me,

When nothing else could help,

Love lifted me!

Love has a name – He is Immanuel – Jesus!

II. To Redeem us from Debt

Jesus told a fascinating story in Luke 7:41-42. In this parable Jesus pointed out that two men owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Jesus then asked the people listening to the parable which person they thought would love such a debt forgiver more. Jesus points out that we are different in the degree of our sins which we have committed, but the bankruptcy of our souls is the same for all. The debtor’s prison will be no different for the good sinner than for the horrible one. Yet, there is a Lord who can forgive debt. He does so by paying the debt Himself. In the case of forgiveness, the one who is forgiven the greatest debt will surely be the one who is the most grateful for forgiveness!

Of course, the most important element in the parable is the fact that the One to whom the debts were owed forgave both the debtors. Our Lord is the forgiver of our debt of sin. He does not take joy in extracting payment for sin, but rather came down from heaven to the earth – Immanuel – to offer forgiveness for our debt. Look at Matthew 18:23, "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants." The Lord desires so much to settle the debt our my account and yours that He sent His only Son into this world to pay the debt for you. Truly amazing – the love and grace of God.

We owe God a perfect life, and unless we can give that to Him, death is required. Since we do not have a perfect life to give, we are left with death. But it is not God's will that any should perish, so His Son came to give us His perfect life and take our sinful life by dying on the cross in our place. He paid the debt I could not pay.

"Jesus paid it all,

All to Him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow."

Galatians.4:4,5 says, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."

Immanuel – God with us to redeem us from our sin debt. No wonder those of us who have received Him sing,

“Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it,

Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb,

Redeemed through His infinite mercy,

His child and forever I am."

He came to rescue us from danger, and He came to redeem us from debt, but I want you to see another reason that Jesus became Immanuel – God with us…

III. To Refine us from Dross

Our Lord came to purify and refine us in the fire of His holiness. Look at Titus 2:14, where we read, “... who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." Our Lord came to purify for Himself a people that are his very own.

Again we read in Zechariah 13:9, "I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.'"

Note how personal the work of the Lord is as a refiner. He makes all those He saves to be His people, refined in the fire of His holiness, free of dross, a people who say that the Lord is a personal God! That is why He came.

IV. To Resurrect us from Death

In Ephesians 2:1-6, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus."

To be in sin, is to be in death. Christ came to find us in our death and to raise us up to life and that more abundant!


No wonder Christmas involves gifts!

Christ gives the gift of life to all who will trust Him.

No wonder Christmas involves lights!

Jesus, Immanuel, came as the Light of the World. He came to take the human heart and soul out of darkness.

No wonder Christmas is about Family!

Christ came to give us new birth – birth into God’s family – a forever family.

No wonder Christmas is about Joy!

Jesus came with the message: Joy to the World - the Lord is come! He is Immanuel - God with us.

For those who know Him as Savior, this is the time to thank Him for all He has done for you. When we hand a child a gift, the parent will usually turn to the child and ask, “Now, what do you say?” The child will then respond by saying, “Thank you.” We shouldn’t have to ask a child of God to say thank you to our Immanuel!

For the person here in this service simply because it is Christmastime, and perhaps your family insisted that you attend, turn to the Savior who came just for you. Turn from you sins and trust Him right now. He will be Immanuel in your heart – He will come to live with you so when your life is over you can go to live with Him!

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