21st December 2019

God With Us

“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:14 (NIVUK)

Jesus was born into the Roman world where many associated the word gospel with good news about the ruling Emperor Augustus Caesar. An inscription at Priene (a ruined city in modern day Turkey) dating from shortly before Jesus’ birth states “since providence…giving us Augustus, whom she filled with virtue that he might benefit humankind, sending him as saviour, both for us and for our descendants, that he might end war…since the birthday of the god Augustus was the beginning of the good news for the world…” It was into this world—that had its own saviour, gospel, and way of bringing about peace through war, conquest, and subjugation—that the Messiah was born. The account of Jesus’ birth is not simply a sentimental story, but reveals how the Son of God came to be with us in the midst of a fallen, sinful world in order to bring us his salvation, gospel and peace. It is perhaps ironic that a decree from Augustus Caesar led to the fulfilment of the biblical prophecy of where the Messiah would be born (Micah 5:2), and so it was at Bethlehem, which means ‘house of bread,’ that the ‘Bread of Life,’ Jesus, was born.

The biblical story of Jesus’ birth reinforces certain biblical truths:
*The virgin birth excludes the ideas that God and man are co-equal partners in salvation. It is through Mary, “because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 1:20) that God, by his own free will, joined himself with our humanity.
*It excludes the claim that Jesus was only a man, albeit a good man, and also the Docetic claim that plagued the church in the early centuries that Jesus only appeared to be a real human being, that he did not have a human body, so he was not really born as a baby.

The Christmas story answers some fundamental questions humanity asks in a personal relationship with God: Can I really trust God? Does he really love me? Does he know what I am really like? Christmas tells us God is faithful and has kept his promise to give us Immanuel; that he loves us—since he gave up his glory to begin life as a vulnerable baby wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a manger (Luke 2:7)—and that he understands our fallen nature, as the Bible says about Mary, “she will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The gospel is not just about Jesus—it is Jesus.

Prayer
Father, we thank you for the gift of your son who willingly gave up his glory to become a human being for the salvation of all humanity.
Amen

Study by Eddie Marsh
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About the Author:
Eddie Marsh attends Grace Communion International in Sheffield.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion Sheffield
Regus Meeting Rooms (Management Suite)
1 The Oasis
Meadowhall Centre
SHEFFIELD
S9 1EP

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Email: sheffield@gracecom.church

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