Hey Everybody, it’s Thomas with RiverCity Spokane! Welcome to Gospel Home Brew a resource from River City Spokane. May the word of God brew in you today as we continue to seek Christ in the season of Advent.
Christmas is almost here! I pray this season of Advent has been a blessing to you and your family as it has mine. My family has been able to enter into the spirit of Advent like never before and really focus on Him. These last few weeks we have waited, prepared, rejoiced and loved in expectation of Christ’s arrival. We now find ourselves just a couple of days away from Christmas day, the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Of course, the story of His birth is an amazing story of our God, taking the humble form of a man. And not just a man, but a common, even lowly man. Had Jesus been wrapped in silk and laid in a golden crib, we would still consider it a step down from his rightful place at the right hand of the Father. However, that is not the case. He stepped even further from His glory, being swaddled in rags and laid in a feeding trough. So yes, this really is a great story. But it is more than that.
As Christmas approaches, the time has finally arrived in which we get to see the one for which we waited and prepared. Let’s start by reading our focus scripture for this week. This is Matthew 1:18-25.
“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 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.” 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”
(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.
Our watch word for this week is “Behold.” The word “Behold” is probably not a word that you have used many times in your life. The same is true for me, so I did a little research to see the significance of this word in the scriptures. Here is what I found. Behold is translated from the Greek word “idou”. The word is generally translated as behold, but could also be used to say “Look!” or “See!”. “Idou” connotates excitement as well and sometimes can be translated as “Suddenly.”. It is used to enliven a story, by marking the change of a scene, or emphasize some detail or idea which will follow. Often times, this word is not even included in the translation. Let’s look back at the scripture. Verse 20 says,
“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.”
Imagine this is the first time that you have read this story. Joseph is getting ready to marry his fiance, Mary, when he finds out that she is pregnant. Of course, Joseph knows that the child is not his and he likely is not buying this story that the child is from the Holy Spirit. Who would? But Joseph is a righteous man and wants to do right by Mary and divorce very quietly. And then, boom. Plot Twist. He has a dream that changes everything. That is what this word “Idou” means. Watch this. We see it used in other places in the Gospels as well, especially in Matthew. Looking ahead to the baptism of Jesus we see it again. John baptizes Jesus, and as he raises Jesus back out of the water, boom. The heavens open up to him, the Spirit of God descends like a dove and rests on Jesus, and God the Father speaks from heaven.
Didn’t see that coming.
Now let’s think about the birth story of Christ. We now realize that this is not just a super cool story of God becoming man. This is the ultimate “Behold” moment in history. Think about it. From the fall of Adam and Eve back in Genesis until that night, everything in creation was in a downward spiral of sin and brokenness with no hope of restoration. God’s chosen people had even seemed to squander their chance of redemption by turning from God time and time again. Also, the last recorded instance of God speaking was over 400 years ago. Things were as dark as ever. God’s people were in bondage. And God himself was silent and even seemingly absent. Evil has triumphed. And then. Plot twist. Behold! Look! See! The Messiah is born. God has become one of us, to redeem us! Isaiah 9:2 says, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of darkness, on them a light shined.”
For me, my love for God and his eternal wisdom grows at the thought that he had this plot twist planned from the foundations of the earth. Wow. Although, I guess we really shouldn’t be all that surprised. From reading the scripture on my own, I have found that God loves to be the hero. It is as if he stacks the odds against himself, waits until the last minute, and then swoops in and rescues us when hope seems lost.
So, how do we observe Advent and Christmas knowing that Christ’s birth was the quintessential “idou” moment?
I think there are 3 ways we can do so.
1. Recognize for ourselves exactly how important that event was in the history of humankind, and for us. Remind yourself during the next couple of weeks that the birth of Christ turned the tide.
2. We must remember that we should be proclaiming to the world, “Behold.’ Look! See! Pray that the Spirit gives us opportunities to point those around us to Christ during this season. May we be reminded that, as Isaiah 42 tells us, on Jesus the nations will put their hope. He is the hope of the world. He is the way, the truth, and the life.
3. We must continue to remind our soul that there will be another “Behold” moment in history. It will also be similar to the His first coming. Things will get worse before they get better. The world will grow darker as it continues to rebel against its King. And then, just when it seems hope is lost, and the world is mockingly asking, “Where is your God?”, light will break through once more. Behold, look to the sky, He has returned.
I pray that as we draw near to Christmas day, we begin to look and see the Messiah for which we have been waiting and preparing all these weeks. O Come, O come Emmanuel.
From all of us at River City to our church family here in Spokane and across the country, Merry Christmas!