Scripture: Matthew 1:18–24
Morning, church. It is good to see all of you today. And I was thinking while the kids were up here singing a couple minutes ago that 20 years from now, certainly 30 years from now Sigh The kids standing up here are the future pastors, elders, mothers, fathers, teachers of the church.
And so, what, what we see here is just the tiny beginning of what they will become, and it is a delight to, to see our church investing in these children because I know that they're being well taught, well parented, well loved by their fathers and mothers here. So it is, it is a good work, and it is fun to see, have them lead us in worship this morning.
Speaking of worship, if you're not aware, we'll have a gathering here tonight at 4 p. m. with our sister church, Christ the King Church, Eastern Hills. So back in the same place, same room at 4 p. m. For whoever can be here. And it's, it'll be a time of singing, prayer, and scripture readings for about an hour with our sister church, Christ the King, Eastern Hills.
Well, my name is Michael, and I am the lead pastor here and we're wrapping up the series this morning on the victory of Christ and Throughout the series so far. We've been looking at Jesus's victory through three different angles Jesus's victory over the world the flesh I'm the devil. And today we're going to finish it up by looking at the victory of Christ from a cosmic eternal perspective, the perspective from the garden of Eden to the new creation.
So, Jesus Christ was sent by the father. Into the world, he was born of a virgin to slay the ancient dragon and save us from our sins. That's, that's his ministry. That's why he came. And that is the victory that we've been talking about over the last three weeks. And the victory that we celebrate Christmas.
Because that is ultimately why Christmas is important. Not that God pulled off this amazing thing, which he did. But the amazing thing that God did was for the sake of defeating. The serpent and defeating our sin and saving us and bringing us into his eternal family. That's why Christmas is important. So, we talk about that and we're going, we're going to look at a famous text that tells us about the birth of Christ, where we start to see some of these themes and threads from the Bible.
culminate in the birth of Jesus. So, let's look, we're going to be in Matthew chapter one and we're going to, I want to read to you a few verses here from Matthew chapter one, but we will look at a couple other texts as well as we go. So, let's dig in Matthew 1:18.
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. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 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 It's 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.
I'll read that again. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. 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 Jesus. Emmanuel, which means God with us.
When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him. He took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son, and he called his name Jesus. This is God's word. I want to zoom in on a couple of verses in particular. Verses 21 through 23 which talks about how what happened with Mary is a fulfillment of what was spoken of by prophecy, specifically the prophecy of Isaiah.
But Isaiah's prophecy was actually embedded from an earlier prophecy, which is all the way back in the Garden of Eden. All the way back at the beginning. So that's where we want to start. We want to start with where this prophecy originated. So, the garden of Eden was like a temple and God's original vision was for the whole earth to be this garden temple where all the earth would be a dwelling place for God with his people that were created in his image.
And there was this global civilization of worshippers that were committed to God, to God in with, without sin or any stain of rebellion. And Adam and Eve being the first pair ruled over this garden temple as king and queen. And the garden of Eden then was the focal point of, of God's vision of this planet being an earth filled with worshippers.
And being the focal point, that's where Satan also directed his rebellion. So, his rebellion targeted the image of God, which were the man and woman, Adam and Eve. And so, Satan attacked them. And he did what he did, if you know the story, Satan tempted Eve, which Adam's wife. And, in their sin, they both fell into sin, and then God pronounced a curse over the man and the woman and the serpent.
And he did it in order. He cursed the man, and then the woman, and then the serpent. But the curse on the serpent contained a prophecy. And the prophecy, I want to read it to you. And the prophecy, essentially, is that He's telling this to the serpent, but he's telling the serpent, this woman or a woman, a descendant of this woman will bear a child and that child will crush your head.
That's what he says. So, let's read it. This is Genesis 3:15. So, God's speaking to the serpent. God says, I will put enmity between you, the serpent is Satan, and the woman, Eve, and all of her daughters, essentially. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
The word offspring in Hebrew. means seed. Literally it means seed. So, what we have here is of a war between two seeds. You have the serpent and all of his seed, and you have the seed of the woman that will be in this conflict. And this is hopeful because God promised to bring life and redemption out of the pain of the woman's curse, because the curse on the woman was increased pain and childbearing.
And so, through her curse, the pain that she endures, God will bring forth not only the life of a child, but also life for, for all of his people. So, God's victory will come through a savior. And the Savior will be a child born of a woman who is a descendant of Eve. And we read this earlier in our liturgy from the book of Galatians, God sent forth his son born of a woman, born under law, and the born of a woman is important because that was the expectation that the savior would come.
Jesus would not just sort of descend in a cloud and like, I'm here to, I'm here to crush the serpent's head. I'm here to declare victory. No, this savior would be born of a woman. So, he would be a child that would grow up to become the savior. And so that's, that set the trajectory of the story of the Old Testament.
The serpent will wound the Savior by striking his heel. So, you, the serpent shall bruise his heel. It's like a snake biting the heel, but it's. You know, it's an inconvenience, you know, it may hurt, but it's not a fatal blow, but the child, the seed of the woman, he will bruise the serpent's head and bruise has a sense of crushing, killing.
The Savior will crush the serpent's head. He will be victorious. And so, as it is Israel, the people of God who would have read this story, they knew that their people, their, their nation, their faith was pregnant with a promise that one day God will send a savior who will deliver them from their sin and who will crush the serpent's head.
Now, that sense of anticipation is hardwired into the biblical story from the very beginning in the book of Genesis, from the very third chapter, this promise that was declared, it creates this anticipation of what God will do. It's a promise that God will fulfill. And since Satan's defeat would come through a child born of a woman, Satan declares war against the children of Israel.
The woman, her seed, the offspring of God's people. And that's where Satan would always direct his attack. And there's two ways to do that. One, you prevent the child from ever being born. Or two, when the child is born, you kill the mother, young and vulnerable, and they can't defend themselves. And you see this story play out.
You see Pharaoh just maniacally ordering the execution of all the Hebrew boys in the book of Exodus. You see Herod mimicking the actions of Pharaoh whenever in the, the very beginning around the time of Jesus is born, he was ordering for all the, all the boys of Israel to be murdered. And so, there's this, this sense that the serpent is attacking the seed of the woman whenever there is a particular anticipation that the Savior might come.
And so, the original Savior in the Old Testament would have been Moses, who It was not the full fulfillment, the final fulfillment, but was a type of the Savior to come. Pharaoh attacked the Hebrew boys and then Jesus, who was the fulfillment, the actual seed, the one who was to come. Satan did the same thing.
He ran the same play. He tried to wipe out and eliminate all the boys that would have qualified. But of course, God took them away and protected them. Nevertheless, you have. This story that is woven throughout this action is happening. So, there's, there's the things that we see in our life and the things that we see happening in scripture, the story, and the action that is taking place that we see is the foreground action for us.
It's God's dealings with his people, God dealing with their sin and exposing their need for a savior. But then there's background action that's. sort of offstage. It's, it's out of our view and we don't always know exactly what's happening, but we are told that it is happening. And that background action is this cosmic, eternal struggle, this conflict between the serpent's seed, him and his offspring and the seed of the woman, which is God's people through whom God would bring his savior.
So even though God's ultimate victory is declared prophesied and certain, there's a lot of action. Between the promise and the fulfillment. So then, the whole story of the Bible, all the people, all the drama, all the characters, all the action, is a theater upon which this cosmic conflict is playing out. So, the cosmic conflict that God is engaged with, with the serpent, is playing out in our daily lives, and in the daily lives of the people that are in the Bible.
So that's the unseen realm where we don't know exactly what's happening because we don't have access to that. God does not tell us that, but we know by faith it's happening. So, there's this conflict between the serpent and the Savior that has been playing out ever since the garden. So, the serpent in some way is going to try to either destroy entirely or simply delay.
The fulfillment of the prophecy, the promise that God will do. Satan is trying to, to refute God's actions to prevent the fulfillment from coming. But God has declared this is what he will do. So, this, the outcome is certain, but Satan is playing for time. So that's from the, from the garden of Eden. Now, if we were too fast forward and we're skipping over a whole bunch of history, I want to plop back down into about 700 BC, 700 BC, which is before the time of Christ.
So, it's what BC stands for before Christ. And then. This is the prophecy from Isaiah, which Matthew quoted, and we read that a moment ago. So, this is a prophetic word that Isaiah spoke, where he pulls on this thread a little further. So, here's what Isaiah says. Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign.
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. Matthew quoted that prophecy that we read earlier in Matthew chapter one, the Christmas story, right? But he quoted this prophecy that occurred some 700 or so years before, beforehand, but it is picking up on the themes that were already embedded in the story of God's people from the garden, from Genesis.
So, originally, when Isaiah spoke this in 700 and so BC, it was referring to events in his day regarding a military threat that was posed against God's people of Israel. But there was God's intention behind what Isaiah prophesied that it would also have a meaning that would apply far into the future with the ultimate.
Fulfillment of the Virgin who would bear a son and be called Emmanuel. So, there was this, there was a, there was an immediate fulfillment in Isaiah's time, but then there was a cosmic fulfillment that God had intended through Isaiah to communicate about the way he'll bring salvation into the world.
And so that is the seed of the woman. That's what Isaiah is talking about, or that God is speaking of the ultimate fulfillment, the seed of the woman who is fulfilled by Jesus Christ, who is the Messiah and the son of God. So, the seed of woman is Jesus Christ. That's what, that's what we're, we learned from this prophecy here.
The serpent will strike his heel, but he will crush the serpent's head. That's what Jesus does. Now the fact that Mary is a virgin is important. Because all humans are sinful. All men and all women are sinful. And we're all in sin because our father, we're all in Adam. We're all descended from Adam. And so, Adam, our father, was a sinful man.
And so, we're all in Adam. And because Adam was a sinful man, and we're all in Adam, that means we all are subject to death, and Satan is the lord of death. That's his domain. So, everybody belongs to the serpent. That is everyone's natural state. They belong to the dragon. They belong to Satan, unless they are rescued.
And that's why Jesus Christ came. But Jesus himself was not descended from Adam. His, he does not have an earthly father. He has. a heavenly father, because he was conceived by the Holy Spirit and thus Jesus is free from sin. And the oldest traditions attest to this fact. So, if you know the Apostles Creed, the line in the Apostles Creed that goes back to whether the fourth century or I don't remember the date of the Apostles Creed, but it says he was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the Virgin Mary.
So, it's, it goes back all the way and it's, it's written in scripture, but also attested from the earliest traditions of the church that Mary was a virgin. That she was not, Jesus was not born because of her husband's impregnating her, but she was pregnant because the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and she conceived.
So, we, in theology, we would say Jesus has a dual nature. He has a human nature. Which is he is like us in every way yet without sin, and he also has a divine nature. He is fully God in every way, and in every way that God is God, Jesus is God. So, he has a dual nature, fully human, fully divine. And that is what qualifies Jesus alone to be our mediator, to be the reconciler between humans and God.
Jesus alone is qualified because he is both God and man to be suspended between heaven and earth and to die in our place as our mediator. Isaiah 7 also mentions a name. A name will be given to the child. You shall call his name Immanuel. Well, we don't call him Immanuel, do we? So, what's that all about?
Well, I'll tell you. Matthew chapter one in the text we read earlier actually mentions three names. So, Matthew 1:18 says the birth of Jesus Christ. took place in this way. Christ is not his last name. So, he was, Mary Christ was not his mom, Joseph Christ was not his dad. So, it's, Christ is a title, right?
So, Jesus is the name they called him by. Christ is a title. And then a few verses later, here in verse 23, when he's quoting Isaiah, they shall call his name Immanuel. So, you have names and titles, and a name and a title is interchangeable. What names you it's not necessarily what you're called by. And so that, that is the case with Jesus.
It is, he, his name is Emmanuel because that is a title that describes who he is, what his ministry is, even though they may not call him that, what they called him was Jesus. But all three names are represented in the book of Matthew, Jesus. That is Yeshua, which is, you know, the New Testament version of Joshua.
Joshua in the Old Testament was a savior conquering hero type of figure, right? So, he was the one his name literally means Yahweh saves. And so, he is the one who will save his people from their sins. That's a couple verses later in Matthew. He will save his people from their sins. So, he is the savior.
Christ, the name Christ, it means anointed one. Anointed one, so that's a title. And that refers to the Messiah, who is the fulfillment. the Old Testament prophecy that God would send a deliverer. So, Messiah is Christ. He is the divinely appointed Savior of God's people. And then Emmanuel that is literally, in Hebrew, that means God with us.
Immanu means with us. El means God and Manu El, God with us, that is also a title because that indicates who he is. This baby and that's, that's the mind-blowing mystery that is so wonderful and fascinating to think about that a little child could be God in the flesh. We can't figure that out. It'll break your brain, but that is, that is what we believe.
And it's a mystery that is higher than what we can comprehend. So, Jesus is what they called him. Christ is a title for the Messiah and Emmanuel is also a title for his role. It's God with us.
Now, there's one more text I want to show you and this text tells us the same story once again, this time after the fact. So, it's after it's happened and it is a from a cosmic Perspective, a divine perspective. And it comes from the book of Revelation chapter 12, Revelation 12 pulls these different themes together and it depicts the woman giving birth to her seed.
And then also the serpent who is identified as a dragon, it's all the same different names for the devil. But it's, it's on a compressed timeline to show us the birth of the Savior and also the victory of the Savior, all in a single snapshot that John sees in the book of Revelation. So, we see simultaneously the birth of the son and the victory of the son.
Here we go. So, this is, there's a lot of extra images in Revelation that might be confusing. So, I've just selected the verses that are most relevant here. Revelation 12:1-2, a great sign appeared in heaven. Do you remember from the book of Isaiah? He said, God will give you a sign. So here is another sign.
This sign appears in heaven. So, John is seeing this heavenly vision, a woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet. And a crown and a, and on her head, a crown of 12 stars, don't get distracted by those details. Those are, I think, references to how the alignment of the stars and the constellations that they would have recognized depict the story that he's telling, but he's talking about the real story of Mary.
So, he sees a woman and she's, she's clothed in an honor being depicted in the. You know, these astronomical, is that the right word? heavenlies, okay? She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth. Now if we skip ahead a couple of verses to verse four, and the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she bore her child, he might devour it.
She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was caught up to God and to his throne. So, what's going on here? We have this heavenly vision where John sees this woman who is about to give birth. And he also sees the dragon, the serpent who is eager to devour the child the moment she gives birth.
And that's precisely what we read in the Gospels and the birth narratives about Jesus. Mary and Joseph were on the run, and Herod was trying to kill the baby boys. And behind those actions, we know that there was a dragon who was wanting to kill and devour the child because he suspected, rightly, that this would be the seed of the woman that would be his ultimate defeat.
So, this is unlike any nativity scene that you've ever seen. It's not a barn and a couple of animals and maybe a goat and a kid and, you know, some people huddled around and throw in some wise men and Magi and Santa Claus up on the roof or whatever kind of nativity scenes you might see. This is the nativity scene from God's perspective.
What was he watching? When God was watching this, he was seeing this, this precious woman that he had appointed to be the mother of our Lord, and she's in the agony of childbirth, and as she's about to give birth, the dragon is there ready to pounce and devour this baby, because he knows who this child is.
It's more like a horror movie, where this demon is there wanting to kill the child the moment he's born. But this image is just as real as the nativity scene image that, but it's just the nativity scene from God's point of view. This child is Emmanuel, God with us. This child is God, the promised Messiah.
He is the Christ. And this child is Jesus, the savior, the one who came to slay the dragon. That's who this child is. He is the son of God, and he will rule all the nations with a rod of iron, which is a demonstration of his strength and his power and his justice. That's who this child is. And when it said that he was caught up to heaven, that's a reference to the ascension after he had accomplished his work on the cross and ascended to the father.
So, he had did everything that he set out to do, and then he was caught up to heaven victorious. And Satan is now left to, you know, squirm in the rubble and pick up the pieces and try to figure out his next move after Christ had decisively outwitted him and won the victory in his resurrection. And in fact, the vision of Revelation 12 goes on to describe the dragon's defeat.
He was thrown down along with his angels. And so, we see this birth of the son and the victory of the son over the serpent all in the same image. That's why he came. Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophecy from Genesis 3. He is the seed of woman. He is the man born of a virgin. Born under law to redeem those under the law so that we might become children of God.
That's who he is. And he overthrew the dragon's rule. That's what we celebrate at Christmas.
Yes, kids are cute. Trees are pretty. If you're into eggnog, maybe eggnog tastes good or whatever your traditions are. And traditions are good. Traditions are, they create an environment, an aura associations of smells and memories and, and sights and, and feelings. But all of those things should point us to the dragon slayer, baby king, who overcame the devil.
That's what, that's what we celebrate. We're celebrating the birth of a savior who crushed the serpent's head. So, I want to conclude this sermon, I've got one application point, and that is simply to receive the gift that Jesus has wrapped for you. Receive the gift of salvation. As we talked about earlier, every human being who's ever been born belongs to the serpent unless they've been rescued by the Redeemer.
But Adam is your father. You were born in sin. I was born in sin. We all were born in sin. Thus, we all were born in Adam, and we were all born under Satan's domain, and were subject to death, which physically everyone will do. And that's why we need a Savior to rescue us from the dominion of darkness. And actually, the book of Colossians uses that exact language.
He has rescued us, or transferred us, from the domain of darkness. And transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved son. That's exactly what Jesus has done for us. But that does not automatically just apply. There is a response that we make by faith. To the invitation of, of Christ. The gospel message. The best way to celebrate Christmas is to honor the purpose of his coming.
And that is to receive him by faith. Jesus Christ came to save people from their sins. to rescue them from the dragon and adopt them into his family as sons and daughters by faith. And by faith is how you receive it. You receive, you are saved by faith. Our faith in Christ is what, is what saves us from our sins because we believe in Jesus who is the dragon slayer, the serpent killer.
He is the one. So, we place our faith in Christ, and we believe in him. And in so doing, we receive the salvation that he has given to us. And we receive the salvation by faith, it's indicated by a humble confession of sin and a repentance from sin and a belief in his forgiveness. So, it has to include this, this acknowledgement, yes, I'm sinful.
And my sin is not merely things I do that annoy my friends and my family. My sin ultimately is against a holy God who was revolted by our sin. And we need to be saved not only from ourselves and our own sin, but we need to be saved from the wrath of God, which is just. We don't want to be destroyed along with the devil and his angels.
We want to be rescued from his destruction and brought into salvation that he has appointed. So, we have to humbly confess our sin, acknowledge, God, I've sinned against you, and I need your forgiveness and that has to include true confession includes repentance. It is, it is a commitment to turn away from our sin to say the, the, the sin that you saved me from, I'm going to commit to, to turning away from that doesn't mean that we don't fail.
It doesn't mean that there aren't times when we, we fall back into sin. God does that and we're forgiven when we do that, but the orientation of your heart is away from sin and it is a repentance that, that is demonstrated by action. There are changes in your life that happen because you hate your sin.
And because you want to be conformed increasingly to the Savior who rescued you. Matthew 1:21, we've read this already, says he will save his people from their sins. And what the serpent does is deceives us into clinging to our sins. And if he can get us to believe it, to get us to believe that we're saved, even though we still cling to our sin, that's, that's the holy grail for Satan or the unholy grail for Satan.
That is, that is the prize. The prize is to convince people that they're saved when they're not. When they love their sin, they don't repent of their sin. They don't confess their sin, but they think they're okay. That's Satan's deception, and that's what I want to warn you against, but to invite you to, to believe the truth, which is through genuine humble confession and through a genuine repentance of your sin, there's forgiveness available to you.
I'll share this with you. my stepfather, maybe I shouldn't, I don't know. Okay, I'll risk it. I'll risk it, but I risk it because I don't want to get emotional. I've found out that the man that I knew as stepfather. For my whole life is dying and any day now, it could, he could die. I haven't spoken to him in 18 years.
because the sin that was exposed in his life was so vile and so wicked that it completely severed all the relationships, and he was unrepentant. My little sister, who is his biological daughter, my stepsister or half-sister, but we don't think of each other that way, but technically that's who she is.
So, she has been telling me about what. She's been in contact with him, and he indicated to her that he's repentant. I want to believe that's true. I want to believe that's true. And if that is true, then he will greet me in heaven whenever I get there. And I hope that that is true because that's the power of grace.
There is no sin that is beyond the reach of God's grace. But that sin must be abandoned. You can't cling to sin while claiming to be a child of God, because that's a contradiction in terms. So, the power of grace is that no matter what the sin, and no matter when one repents, Jesus forgave the thief on the cross, who had lived his entire life and was only a Christian for potentially a few minutes, if not a couple hours, before he died, but Jesus said, you'll be with me in paradise today.
That's the power of grace. Confession simply means agree with God. God, you're right. You gotta eat crow, spiritually speaking. You gotta acknowledge, I was wrong, God, you were right, and I have to acknowledge it. Acknowledge your sin, acknowledge your need for forgiveness. Repentance means turn away. So, turn away from sin, and with God's help, commit to follow and obey Jesus as a disciple.
Faith simply means believe this is true. Believe it. Commit your life to it. Build your life around it. Believe that this is true, and God will keep his word, and he will forgive your sin, and you can have the freedom, the peace of mind, knowing that you are forgiven, and that you are washed clean, and that God truly sees you as acceptable in his sight, because not how good you are, but because you are clothed in the righteousness of his son, and he did this because he loves us, and he wants what's best for us, and so he died in our place to save us.
So his victory that he won that was promised in the garden Repeatedly prophesied through the Bible and accomplished in Jesus Christ that victory is available to all of us Most of us in this room That's why we're here as we celebrate it and we worship him in light of our salvation But some of you might be on the other side of that you belong to the serpent and I want you to experience the salvation that Jesus And so we honor the Christ child at Christmas time through humble confession, repentance of sin, and obedient faith.
Let's pray. We thank you, our Lord God, for sending your son, Jesus Christ, precious and dear to you. to be the atoning sacrifice for our sin so that we who believe would not perish but have eternal life Lord I pray even now and the Saints in this room can join with me in prayer for my former stepfather for his Salvation I pray Lord that he will truly repent and believe in Jesus and receive salvation.
But Lord, I pray for anyone here also that is in the same position. Lord, I pray that you will grant a repentance of faith to them. They will humble themselves and will turn and believe. Thank you. And we give you all the glory. In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.