It’s good to be here with you this morning.

It’s nice and cold outside, which I like.

If you have your Bibles, please turn with me to Matthew chapter 1. We’re going to pick up where we left off last week. We started in Matthew chapter 1, verse 1. We talked through the genealogy of Jesus. And so this week we are continuing on in Matthew’s gospel.

I read a study this past week that half of children born in America now are born outside of wedlock. So that’s a pretty historical number that half now is outside of wedlock. And that’s not because there are single mothers everywhere. That’s not why. A lot of people these days are just choosing to, cohabitate and just say no to marriage altogether. So what you have really is generationally Americans saying, we just don’t want that. And this article is kind of talking about it. One pastor noted on it how cohabitation and marriage, they kind of look like the same thing, but they’re not the same thing at all. Because in cohabitation, you’re living with someone and you’re doing life with someone. But really there’s a freedom there to back out when you want. You’re not really totally committed. But in marriage, you’re making the vows and you’re saying, no matter what, everything that you are, I’m committed to it until the very end. Till death do we part, as we say in our marriage vows. So marriage is a very serious, full commitment. And while we may be saying generationally today as Americans, I don’t want to make that kind of commitment. I want my secret license to kind of pull out if I need to.

Matthew’s not going to let us do that in reference to Jesus. He’s not going to let us do that in reference to the gospel. Last week we said Jesus alone, He’s got this very unique life. Jesus has a very different human life than any other human. Jesus uniquely is worth watching. Jesus is uniquely worth following. But Matthew’s saying, make sure you know what you’re saying when you say you follow Jesus. Because to follow Jesus at arm’s length, to follow Jesus at a comfortable distance, Matthew’s going to argue he’s not following Jesus at all. If you really want to follow Jesus, Matthew’s saying you’re going to have to buy into the whole, it’s going to be like this very real full commitment. So make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into. That’s what Matthew’s doing. So Matthew’s going right for the heart of it. He’s starting in this very difficult place for us to really believe and accept the Scripture. He’s starting with this account of the supernatural birth of Jesus. Are we willing to own, friends, not some of Christ? Are we willing to commit to not what we like about Christ and Christianity? But can we own the whole thing? That’s Matthew’s. I think, challenge and throwing us in the deep end with this account of the supernatural birth. So we’ll be in Matthew 1, verse 18. I’m going to start reading for us there.

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 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.

So Mary, most likely, she’s probably 13 to 15 years old. This is what scholars would think. That would be a normal betrothal period for a girl in ancient Israel, 13 to 15 years old. And betrothal is not like what you and I think of when we think about engagements. Today, if somebody makes an engagement, that’s yay, exciting, it’s wonderful, but someone can break off an engagement as easily as they make it. That wouldn’t be a big deal to hear about, oh, such and such was engaged, and they call it off, whatever, life moves on. That’s not betrothal. So 21st century engagement is very different from ancient Israel betrothals. In a betrothal, you are bound. If you were betrothed, you were as good as Mary, you just hadn’t had a ceremony yet to celebrate it, like moving together as a family. You start building a family. You were legally bound to that person, no matter what. So really, if you’re going to break off an engagement in ancient Israel, you have to have a really significant reason to do it. You’d have to get the law involved. You’d have to divorce the person. It wasn’t a simple, let’s make this and break this kind of thing. It’s a big deal. And it seems like, from Joseph’s perspective, there’s a really good reason that I should consider divorcing this woman. Word gets out.

It doesn’t say how it gets out, but word gets out. And so Joseph hears that this girl he’s betrothed to, who’s supposed to be a virgin, is pregnant.

And so before we consider Joseph and his response, I want us actually to consider first Mary. How did Mary discover that she was pregnant? And how did she respond to it? If you would, turn with me over to Luke’s Gospel. Matthew, Mark, Luke. Luke chapter 1, verse 26.

That’s where we have a… most descriptive account of how Mary heard and discovered of her pregnancy. So looking in verse 26, it says, In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, Greetings, O favored one. The Lord is with you. But she was greatly troubled at this saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting. This might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David. And he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. And of his kingdom there will be no end. And Mary said to the angel, How will this be since I am a virgin? And the angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God. So the angel comes to Mary and says, Hey, Mary, greetings. The Lord’s with you. And it’s pretty reasonable. She’s greatly troubled and she’s discerning inwardly. Like, what is going on here? Is this a good thing? Is this a bad thing? Am I in trouble? What’s up? And the angel says, Hey, don’t freak out. You’ve found favor with God. It’s the Greek word charis. It’s grace. So it’s unmerited favor. The angel’s saying, Hey, you’re being shown unmerited favor by God. You have a child within you. You’re going to bear a son, and you’re going to name him Salvation. That’s what Jesus means. You’re going to name him Salvation. And he’s going to be the Son of the Most High. Now, Mary is a Jewish girl. Her hearing Son of the Most High, that term Most High, that’s equal with the one true God of the Jews. So that’s littered throughout the Old Testament. So to hear Most High, what she just heard is, I’m going to have the Jewish Messiah, Messiah in me. This is the one true God over the Jews, over the Gentiles, whether the Gentiles know it or not. That’s going to be my son. And the angel further validates it. He says, Yeah, he’s going to sit on the throne of his father David. So now last week, we talked in depth about that term Son of David. Remember, there was a fall in the garden, and then God said, Hey, a seed’s going to come. And eventually it became clear with Abraham. And somebody’s going to come from Abraham and bless the nations. And they got clear with David. So okay, now we know, whoever comes, this Jewish Messiah, is going to sit on the throne of David. And have a perpetual kingdom of righteousness.

So we’re really looking forward to that Messiah coming. So this is a big deal for Mary. She’s running through her head, all these stories she’s ever heard growing up about this Messiah who’s come and the Most High God. And now she’s told, Hey, you’re going to carry that child. Friends, that’s a lot to throw on a tweenager. Isn’t it? That’s a lot of news to get in a dream one night. But the angel stacks it on top of that. Because she has this pretty reason and a reasonable response. Like, I’m kind of like, I’m a virgin. So how’s that going to happen? Right?

I mean, it’s a reasonable thing to say. And the angel does not say what we maybe would think he would say. Well, hey, you’re getting ready to marry Joseph. And Joseph is in the line and lineage of David. So there you go. That works out. It’s not what the angel says. The angel says, Well, the Holy Spirit’s going to come upon you. And the power of the Most High is going to overshadow you. What does that mean? Well, it means a lot. I want to throw out two theological terms for us this morning, okay? We can handle them. This is going to be good. Two theological terms.

Incarnation. That one’s not so bad. If you want to write it down, you can. The second one, it’s bigger, but it’s okay. It’s the hypostatic union. Okay, you’re okay. We can handle it. So the incarnation and the hypostatic union. What is the hypostatic union? Because the angel, in like precious few words, just said this to Mary.

Well, here’s the hypostatic union. Jesus, as a person, has two natures. He has a full and complete God nature. Jesus also has a full and complete human nature. Jesus is not kind of like God or kind of like a human. Jesus is 100% human and He’s 100% God. He is co-equal with God the Father. He is, as the Nicene Creed says, very God of very God. Jesus Himself said, I am. So in the Old Testament, the I am, that was God. Jesus said, I am. So Jesus is fully and completely God as God the Father is. But friends, He’s also, and this is paramount for us to believe, He is our Savior who is fully human. As theologian Paul Enns notes, if Jesus wasn’t fully human, His death on the cross was an illusion. So Jesus is just like Adam, only perfect. He’s without sin. So understand why that makes Jesus unique. Jesus is uniquely human in that He alone can be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. But because Jesus is God, He can resist sin and Satan in a way that you and I can’t. That makes Him our Savior. Jesus is the God-man. It’s the hypostatic union. You should love that truth. And so what’s the incarnation? Well, the incarnation is simply what we read. The Holy Spirit passed over Mary to bring about the hypostatic union. Those are truths that we love. Christ did not just like, I’m going to cover up my Godhood in like fake skin to trick everybody. He actually assumed humanity in addition to His Godhood. Divinity.

Now friends,

church fathers, theologians have been writing volumes on those doctrines for centuries. And that’s a lot for me in like that little blip of time to like let me explain that really quick to you like these really big terms.

After telling Mary quickly, hey, you’re going to carry the Son of David, the angel in like a few words and He’s not even willing to throw out some theological terms, He drops that on Mary. You’re going to have the Son of David. Holy Spirit’s going to pass over you. You okay with that? That’s a lot to drop on a tween age girl. I mean, can we be honest about that? And what’s incredible is her response. She does not say, could you like write out a theological treatise for me so I can like process through this? Or hey, I don’t understand that. Can you like help me like grasp that? Or can I have some time to like process that and like think that over? It’s really not what she says at all. And she doesn’t even just say, okay, Mary says the most incredible thing she could say. Mary says, it do.

It do. It do is a Greek interjection. It’s like, behold. Hey, look at that. Stop. It’s an emotional response to raise awareness that something’s happening. What Mary says is, behold, I’m a doulos. I’m a slave of the Lord. Not even, it says servant, but it’s not servant like I sweep your floors and I do your dishes. It connotates like slavery and submission. Mary says, behold, I am a slave of the Lord. The Word of the Lord, I believe that, despite what Mary may or may not fully and completely understand.

I think in discerning, friends, are we willing to own and commit to the full Christ? I think that’s one thing Matthew draws out this morning for us to consider. We must believe the Word of the Lord, especially when we don’t understand. We must believe the Word of the Lord, especially when we don’t understand because our Christian faith, it doesn’t rest on what we see or know by evidence, but the faith we have in Luke’s preferred evidence. If it didn’t, faith in Christ, faith in the written Word of God, faith in the leadership of the Holy Spirit, it wouldn’t be faith at all, would it? The essence of faith is what I believe despite what other people around me believe, despite what I fully get and understand, but rather what is the conviction of my soul despite what people believe, despite what I always understand. And the Hebrew writer, he spells it out best in Hebrews chapter, 11 verse 1. It says, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for. Faith, it’s a conviction. It means no matter what, it’s here that I believe. It’s the conviction of things not seen for by the people of old received their commendation. And so you see it play out in Abraham’s life in the Old Testament as much as you’re seeing it play out for Mary. So look at Romans chapter 4 verse 19. Paul brings this to light with Abraham. It says, He did not weaken in faith, when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead, since he was about a hundred years old, or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. So Abraham has no verifiable evidence he’s going to have a son, does he? The evidence actually points in the opposite direction. He’s old. He’s decrepit. And his wife? His wife is. And she’s barren. The evidence says you’re totally not going to have a son.

Abraham has nothing but a word to go on.

All he has is the simple word that the Lord has spoken to believe. And it was enough for Abraham. And friends, that’s supernatural. That’s amazing to see it in Mary. That’s amazing to see that in Abraham. Because you and I as sinful creatures in the fallen line of Adam, we only cannot believe the Word of God. We hate to do that. I don’t want to believe God’s Word. In the garden, God said in Genesis 2, verse 16, and we looked at this last week, and the Lord commanded the man saying, You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. That’s God’s Word to them. So their great sin was not eating the fruit. That was wrong for them to eat the fruit. But that wasn’t the first and chief sin. The first and chief sin was the pride of disbelieving that God’s Word could be taken at face value. Instead, they believed a different Word. And friends, because we’re in the line of Adam and Eve, we’ve inherited that same problem. I struggle to believe God’s Word no matter what.

And when we’re honest about it, here’s what we chose to do in the garden. Not so much believe God’s Word isn’t believable. What we chose to do is believe God’s character isn’t credible.

When you hear someone say a word, you take the person into account. Words don’t speak themselves. Words don’t proceed from themselves. They proceed from a person, right? The Bible says the overflow of the heart is what comes out of the mouth. And this is really what Jesus is talking about in His sermon on the mount when He talks about oaths. And we’ll get there in several weeks. Jesus said, hey, you’ve heard it said, don’t swear falsely. I’m saying to you, don’t even take any oaths anymore.

Let your yes be yes and your no be no. What Jesus was saying was your credibility, your character, should be so immeasurable. As one of my followers, that when you say a word, it’s entirely believable from the bat. People don’t have to go, I don’t know. You better put your name down on that piece of paper because I know you said that, but I also know your character. So friends, Jesus is saying we have to be called into that kind of life. But friends, if that’s what Jesus is proclaiming to us, how much more impeccable and perfect is the character of God when we actually consider it?

Numbers chapter 23 verse 19 says, God is not man that He should lie, or a son of man, that He should change His mind? Has He said and will He not do it? Or has He spoken and will He not fulfill it? And then James chapter 1 verse 17 says every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. God is good and He doesn’t change which means His character and His word are always good and they never change. So God is always and ultimately believable despite what we understand.

So Christianity then, it is not anti-intellectual. It is not for like simple-minded, ignorant, stupid people who can’t think or won’t think. Quite the opposite. Consider what Solomon says in Proverbs chapter 1 verse 7. He says, The fear of the Lord, that’s the beginning of knowledge. Fools despise wisdom and instruction. So in other words, when I fear God’s character, I am saying I recognize my place in the universe not as an individual, infinite creature, but as a finite creature. Remember last week we established God created us to be dependents on Him. So when I fear the Lord, I recognize my place not as someone who is supposed to get and understand everything. I’m in the posture of someone who’s been called to submit and believe everything the Lord speaks to me because the Lord is good to me always in His character. It’s true and it’s trustworthy.

And really what we’re talking about is the posture of a child. The posture of a child. When you see a child, a child trusts their parent. They don’t trust their parent because they’re stupid and dumb. They trust their parent because they’re a child and children trust their parent. It’s not about whether they’re stupid or smart. It’s about a love relationship in which the parent is trusted. Because you could play it on the opposite side. If you ever come across a child that’s been from an abusive home, an alcoholic parent, that child most likely has trust issues. The idea of taking someone at their word is highly unlikely. So Jesus is saying, if you want to come into my house, if you want to come into my kingdom, you’re going to have to just accept my word. Not because you’re dumb or you’re stupid, but because the Father, He loves you and you should trust His character and Christ is showing that to us. So friends, let me ask you this. If God’s word is sure because His character is sure, should we not continually be in a state of saturating ourselves in the word of God so that we would know the character of God, not forget the character of God and ourselves actually live out and have ourselves the character of God? It’s our chosen distance from the Lord, from His word that keeps us doubting His goodness, forgetting who He is. It’s our decision to walk away from the word of God that keeps us erring and believing that God is good and He loves us and there’s forgiveness of sins in Jesus. What is your commitment to word saturation?

And it’s important. It’s important for a lot of reasons. It’s important because the world’s constantly going to tell you, don’t believe God. Don’t believe His word. Don’t believe His word. Flesh constantly says to you, don’t believe that word. Make up your own word. Inside the walls of the church today, there are so many unbiblical ideologies and heresies. How will you protect your own church inside the walls when you don’t know the word and character of the one true God? So word saturation, friends, is all important for us to remember and believe the one God who deserves to be believed. And it’s practical. It’s not spacey for people that are theological nerds and I’m reading about the hypostatic. I’m reading about the hypostatic union all the time. That’s not what we’re talking about. When I think about my marriage to my wife, it’s, yeah, it’s special and in a biblical sense, it’s, you know, it’s mystical in the sense that we’re considered one flesh in the eyes of God. But guess what? If I want to have a healthy marriage, I take some practical steps.

I build time in my schedule to take care of my wife, to love her. I build just practical times where we can talk together. I pray for her. Like it comes down to the practicality, the reality of the life I live. And so it comes down to that for you. It’s good to hear sermons. We should like come, like hear the Word of God. But in your day-to-day life, what does it look like to know this Word and be saturated in Christ? That’s the decision you have to make if you plan on believing the Word. Otherwise, you won’t.

So, supernatural birth of Christ. Can we own that whole thing? Let’s go back to verse 20 in Matthew chapter 1.

We’re going to get into Joseph here.

And it 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. She will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 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, a 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. He knew her not until she had given birth to his son, and he called His name Jesus. So Joseph is both a righteous and a compassionate man. And you see that, in the way that he responds to the news of the pregnancy. Now the law, the law allowed for Joseph to divorce Mary, which would have been the right thing to do for what she had done. It would have brought an incurable shame on her. She never would have got rid of. It would have made her just a public embarrassment for her family. Really worse than that, if you look at Deuteronomy 22-23, here’s what the law would allow for. It says 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. So adultery, again, it’s not a game. It’s a really big deal in ancient Israel. And Joseph knows that. But being both a zealous man who wants to obey the law, but he’s also compassionate. I’m going to divorce this girl quietly. I don’t want to bring her more shame than has to be brought to her. So Joseph’s considering these things. He falls asleep, and the angel Lord comes to him and addresses him by his title, which is really important for what the angel’s getting ready to say.

Joseph, son of David.

Son of David. Don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife. Don’t have any apprehensions about this. You shall have a son. He’s going to be great. He’s going to be great. And you, you shall call him Jesus. You shall name him Jesus, and he will save his people from their sins. Now, it made sense for Mary to name her son Jesus because it was, in a more real sense, it was her son. Joseph has absolutely no connection to Jesus whatsoever. In no way is Jesus Joseph’s biological child at all.

Here’s the thing. If Joseph chooses to marry Mary,

he is, in effect, saying, I’m going to be your husband, and I’m going to legally own your child. So by Jesus agreeing to, or Joseph agreeing to name Jesus with Mary, in effect, that makes Jesus the legal son of David. It brings him into the house of David, which is incredible. So in this way, the God-man becomes this son of David that we’ve always longed for, the son of David we’ve always needed. And he even links it back to the prophecy, like, this is Emmanuel. This is God with us.

But again, notice what Joseph does not do or say. He does not say, hey, I’m Joseph that’s got a just reputation. And you know, if I marry her, people are going to think that I did that before we got married. And you know, they’re going to think I don’t care about the law, and like we knock boots like before our wedding night, and that’s going to look really bad on me. Or you know, like if I marry her, people are going to think I didn’t like, you know, love the law enough to divorce her, and now I’m married to this like floozy girl. So there’s like a lot of shame in that angel. Like I’ve got my own reputation to think about. There are some personal repercussions for doing that.

None of that.

It says he woke up,

and he married her.

Didn’t think about himself. He woke up, and he wed Mary.

Second thing, I think Matthew yells at us this morning, friends, we commit to the whole Christ. We’ve got to obey the Word of the Lord immediately,

especially when it’s difficult. Obey the Word of the Lord immediately,

especially when it’s difficult.

Because the kind of obedience God requires of us, it’s often trying and hard. And why does it have to be that way? Why does obedience have to be so hard? Well, because just as you and I are disinclined to believe the Word of the Lord, we’re no more inclined to obey the Word of the Lord. We’re sinful people in a sinful world. And yes, we’ve come to Christ, and yes, we’ve been made new in the Spirit. All the same, to live as a citizen of heaven on earth is hard because our sinful flesh is always saying, no, don’t act like that. And the world’s saying, don’t act like that. So when I obey the Lord, it’s always going to hurt. It’s always going to be painful to push against who I was before I came to Christ. Push against the world that hates and is absent of Christ. And the Hebrew writer, again, he raises up Noah and Moses as really good examples of this. If you see it again in Hebrews chapter 11, verse 7, it says, By faith,

Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen,

events unseen,

in reverent fear, he did something. He didn’t just believe, he did something. He constructed an ark. How silly would you feel? Constructing an ark for a flood at the end of the world supposed to come and you’re building this thing like over decades. He constructed an ark. He constructed an ark for the saving of his household. And by this, he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. And then we see Moses in 11.24. By faith, Moses, when he was grown up, he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking, looking to the reward. So genuine faith, and you see it in Noah, you see it in Moses, it will always produce a very real genuine obedience. Genuine faith gives birth to genuine obedience. It’s the proof of the faith. And hear me say this to you this morning, it’s not a question of raw willpower. I’m really going to obey God. I’m going to do this. Friends, when you and I live in raw willpower for God, it’s short-lived. It’s got varying degrees of intensity. It always floats out. It doesn’t have an impure place and it ends in a mess. It’s like God says at the end time when all things are tested, it’ll burn up like wood stubble. And hey, so you and I can never, as one preacher says, we can never white-knuckle obedience. I’m just going to bear down. I can’t do it. There’s one thing that causes us to really obey God, and that is an implanted love for God. Only out of my love for God could I ever dare in this sinful flesh obey God. It was the Apostle Paul who said, I have the desire to do what’s right, but I don’t have the ability. I don’t have the ability to carry it out. Real obedience, as painful and difficult as it is, we could say with Jesus, it is a daily dying to oneself. Jesus says, take up your cross. Take up that thing that’s designed to kill you and follow me. Obedience is painful, but friends, it overflows from a heart of love for the one true God who deserves my obedience.

Jesus says it in John chapter 14, verse 15, if you love me, here’s how you know if you really love me. You ready to hear it? This is it.

Here’s the only reason you love. You keep my commandments. Do you obey me?

Okay, you love me. If you don’t obey me, guess what? You don’t really love me. And that’s not Jesus being like harsh and like, can you do it? It’s just a simple matter of fact. Friends, when we experience the love of God, the only reason we’re ever going to love God back is because we have seen this one true God and we desire Him more than the fleeting pleasures of sin. We desire Him more than the fleeting pleasures of sin. We desire Him more than the approval of this world. We want the commendation that comes only from God. We want the eternal kingdom of God. And it’s worth losing ourselves over. It’s worth losing this world over. How fitting in Joseph, this last son of David, before the one true David, we see the obedience that Christ Himself will perfect.

Nate Saint, who was a missionary, he was martyred by the Aka Indians along with Jim Elliott. And Nate Saint once said,

his life did not change until he came to grips with the idea that obedience is not a momentary option.

It is a die-cast decision made beforehand. Die-cast. That’s an interesting way to put it. I don’t go through my day determining will I or won’t I obey. No, it’s either just the shape of who I am or am not as I live my life. Obedience isn’t something for me to decide if I want to do it or not. It either is or is not who I am. And I think we can read about a missionary, oh, that’s so awesome, they died for Jesus and they spilled their blood and that’s so cool and we hold them way up here. But is it worth even idolizing or talking about how cool it would be to spill our blood for Jesus when the reality is are we willing to be obedient in the small and hardest places of life? Because friends, the truth of it is God may not call all of us to fly across the other side of the world and be obedient and lay our lives down and spill our blood in some painful way. He’s probably just calling us to love our children well and be patient. He’s probably calling us to love our children well and be patient. He’s probably calling me to put the needs of my wife before my own. He’s probably calling me just to bear the fruits of the Spirit and be a patient, loving kind of person that looks like Jesus and cares for my neighbor and I care for the marginalized and I care for the poor and I’m willing to pray without ceasing and I share the gospel with people that don’t know it and I’m just living in a Christ-centered community. So if I’m not willing to do obedience in the more drudged, boring parts of life, I’m probably not willing to do it in the bigger, more romantic places that we read about in books. And again, that’s good, but the question is are you willing to be obedient where it’s most difficult and hard? And friends, that’s in everyday life.

So praise God when people achieve heroic feats for the sake of the gospel, but friend, it is no small matter to be a follower of Christ in your nine-to-five life. Friends, that’s the place where Jesus will hold you accountable someday. So in the life you are actually living, are you living in obedience despite the pain and the suffering and what it costs you in day-to-day life? It’s a real obedience that flows from a very real faith in God.

So can we can we really make a commitment, friends, not at an arm’s length distance, not at like 30,000 feet, like a Jesus who we’re comfortable with, like a Jesus that I can like pick and choose what I want to believe about Him, a Jesus I can pick and choose like the kind of situations I do or don’t want to be in that He would put me in. Like, I just want it to make sense to me. I want it to be easy. Like, I want it to just kind of like compliment my life, like just salt and pepper on it. It’s not that serious. It’s good. I need it. I like it. I could do without it, but I just, I want to make it like my own thing. Can we, can we get past that?

I don’t know. It’s your life. So I think it’s something for you to decide.

It is your life and you will have to choose to whom you want to be. To whom you commit it. For whom you live. For what purpose you live. But I want to remind you, maybe if you’ve never made your decision,

I think it’s very interesting that of all the prophetic passages that the angel could have referenced, and there are a bajillion in the Old Testament about the Jesus who was to come. He chooses Emmanuel, God with us.

Emmanuel, God with us. Joseph, this is how, this is going to happen. And He’s going to be Emmanuel, God with us.

Friend, Jesus, He did not choose to stay arm’s length distance from you.

Jesus interposed Himself in the very mess of our humanity.

Jesus did not send a messenger. Jesus, as the God-man came, and with His life, face to face, He showed us the character of God. He said, hey, this is what it looks like to be a trustworthy person. This is what it looks like to really be alive. This is the God you lost in the garden. Christ showed us God’s trustworthiness in the life that He lived. Christ came and face to face, He showed us the love of God, and yet while we were still sinners, Christ died for the ungodly. Christ climbed up on the cross and bled, and He died embarrassing us so we could see face to face the God who loved us.

So there is no arm’s length distance relationship with Jesus. That’s not really on offer. Friend, Christ is calling you to come right here to know Him, to follow Him, to have all of Him as He has all of you. Christ said, abide in Me and you will bear much fruit. It is this very intimate life where we are known and we know and we love and we are loved and we are filled with the Spirit of God and it is eternally satisfying and it is worth the suffering and it is worth not understanding all the time to have this life that Jesus Christ afforded to us by His perfect life, death, and resurrection on the cross. So friend, if Jesus, if Jesus is this far away from you, I say to you, He might as well be a million miles from you. Christ is calling you to get this close to Him, to know Him, to love Him, to live for Him. I beg you and I implore you, if this is the kind of relationship you have with Jesus and His church, Jesus says, come close. Come close and you’ll find real life. Real life.

So that’s the Jesus again that we’re following here in Matthew’s Gospel. That’s the Jesus we’re following in the New Testament.

Let’s pray.

There’s no one like You, God.

None in heaven, none on earth, none under earth.

Christ is before all things. Christ is after all things. Christ is in Christ. Christ, all things are held together.

Lord, would You do a work that only Your Spirit can do to break down the callous in us. Lord, a callous that is cold to the truth of the Gospel that Jesus Christ came to show us the face of God, to show us His love, to show us His character, to be our friend, to be our shepherd king who loves us and takes care of us, to give us life as He designed us to have, to have real human life in Him. Lord, would You show us and convict us there is no life outside of Jesus. Lord, in living our lives and working, Lord, all of it, it is empty and it’s a void if it’s not filled with knowing Jesus.

Oh God, we want to know Jesus.

Help us know Jesus.

Reveal Jesus to us. Make Jesus our all in all, I pray, God. Convict us, Lord.

Lord, we love the things of the flesh and we’re quite content here and if we could just hit the repeat button, we would just keep living like humans on this sinful earth forever and we’ve found happiness and possessions. We’ve found, Lord, happiness in things that don’t satisfy. Lord, let us be entirely unsatisfied if it’s not Jesus that we have.

Thank You for Your love.

Thank You for Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy.

Thank You that in all things, we can say, God, You are good.

In all things, we can say, it is well with our soul because You’ve loved us and You keep us.

And I would say to you this morning, if you’re here and maybe you don’t have a very strong relationship with Jesus or the church, friends, there’s no better time to know Christ than the moment you’re in. You don’t know that you’ll have five minutes from now. You don’t know that you’ll have ten minutes from now. You have this moment. You have this moment to repent of your sins and tell Jesus you surrendered to Him. You have this moment to place faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. You have this moment to ask Jesus to lead you on into eternal joy. It is not God’s desire that any should perish and suffer everlasting hell. He invites you now to receive His one perfect Savior, Jesus. So this morning, if you need to talk more about what it means to follow Christ, I’ll be in the back. There will be others. If you need to just repent this morning, I’d encourage you to just repent and turn your heart back to God as we worship. Father, we love you and we praise the name of your Son, Jesus. Let’s pray that in His name. Amen. Let’s stand and worship together.

Preacher: Chad Cronin

Passage: Matthew 1:18-25