Sermon 2163. Immanuel-The Light of Life
A SERMON DELIVERED ON LORD'S-DAY MORNING, SEPTEMBER 14, 1890,
BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such us was in her vexation, when at the first He highly afflicted the land of Zebulunand the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee ofthe nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death,upon them has the light shined." Isaiah 9:1,2.
As in this case the Revised Version is much to be preferred, we will now read it-
"But there shall be no gloom to her that was in anguish. In the former time He brought into contempt the land of Zebulun andthe land of Naphtali, but in the latter time has He made it glorious, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of thenations. The people that walked in darkness ha ve seen a great light: they that dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,upon them has the light shined." Isaiah 9:1,2.
When Judah was in sore distress, the sign that she should be delivered was Immanuel. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive andbear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14). When no other ray of comfort could be found, light came from the promise of the wondrous birth of Him whose name is "Godwith us." God alone would be the Deliverer of Judah when overmatched by her two enemies. God would be with them and He gavethem as a pledge a vision of that time when, in very deed, God would dwell among men and wear their Nature in the Person ofThe Virgin-Born.
It is noteworthy that the clearest promises of the Messiah have been given in the darkest hours of history. If the Prophetshad been silent upon the Coming One before, they always speak out in the cloudy and dark days, for well the Spirit made themknow that the coming of God in human flesh is the lone star of the world's night. It was so in the beginning, when our firstparents had sinned and were doomed to quit the Paradise of delights. It was not meet that rebels should be dwellers in thegarden of the Lord-they must go forth to till the ground from where they were taken- but before they went, there fell upontheir ears the prophecy of the Deliverer who would be born-"The Seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent's head."
How brightly shone that one promise amid the surrounding gloom! The earliest Believers found in this hope of the coming Conquerorof the serpent, a solace amid their labor and sorrow. When Israel was in Egypt, in the sorest bondage, and when many plagueshad been worked on Pharaoh, apparently without success for he knew not the Lord and neither would he let His people go-thenIsrael saw the Messiah set before her as the Paschal Lamb, whose blood sprinkled on the lintel and the two side posts securedthe chosen from the avenger of blood. The type is marvelously clear and the times were marvelously dark!
It seemed as if the Lord would make the consolation to abound even as the tribulation abounded. I will not multiply instances,but I will quote three cases from the prophetical Books which now lie open before us. In Isaiah, turn to his 28th chapterand the 16th verse, and you read that glorious prophecy-"Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, aprecious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believes shall not make haste." When was that given? It was pronounced whenthe foundation of society in Israel was rotten with iniquity and when its corner stone was oppression.
Read from verse fourteen-"Therefore hear the Word of the Lord, you scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem.Because you have said, 'We have made a covenant with death, and with Hell are we at agreement; whom the overflowing scourgeshall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves.'" Thus, when lies and falsehoods ruled the hour, the Lord proclaims the blessed Truth that the Messiah would come and wouldbe a sure foundation for Believers.
Next, look into Jeremiah and pause at the 23rd chapter and the fifth verse-"Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I willraise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is His name whereby He shall be called, THE LORDOUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." When was this clear testimony given? Read the former verses of the chapter and see that the pastors weredestroying and scattering the sheep of Jehovah's pasture. When the people of the Lord thus found their worst enemies wherethey ought to have met with friendly care, then they were promised happier days through the coming of the Divine Son of David.
I will only further detain you while we glance at Ezekiel 34:23, where the Lord says, "And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shallfeed them, and he shall be their shepherd." When came this cheering promise concerning that great Shepherd of the sheep? Itcame when Israel is thus described: "And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all thebeasts of the field, when they were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yes,My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them." Thus you see that in eachcase, when things were at their worst, the Lord Jesus was the one well of consolation in a desert of sorrows-
"Midst darkest shades, if He appears, Our dawning has begun. He is our soul's bright morning star, And He our rising sun."
In the worst times we are to preach Christ and to look to Christ! In Jesus there is a remedy for the direst of diseases anda rescue from the darkest of despairs. Ahaz, as the chapter tells us, was in great danger, for he was attacked by two kings,each one stronger than himself. But the Lord promised him deliverance and commanded him to choose a sign either in the heights,or in the depths. This, under a hypocritical presence, he refused to do and therefore the Lord chose as His own token theappearance of the heavenly Deliverer who would be God and yet born of a woman. "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and beara Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
He was to eat butter and honey, like other children in that land of milk and honey, and yet He was to be the Mighty God, theEverlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. We see here Godhead in union with Manhood! We behold Jesus, Man "of the substanceof His mother," and yet, "God over all, blessed forever." Surely this God-appointed sign was both in the depth and in theheight above-the Man of Sorrows, the Son of the Highest. This vision was the light of the age of Ahaz. It is God's comfortto troubled hearts in all ages-it is God's sign of Grace to us this morning. The sure hope of sinners and the great joy ofsaints is the Incarnate Lord, Immanuel, God with us! May He be your joy and mine even this day. He it is who is the greatlight of the people who dwell in the land of the shadow of death! If any among you are in that dreary land, may He be lightand life to you! He alone could make the darkness of Zebulun and Naphtali to disappear in a blaze of glory! He can do thesame for those who sorrow at this hour!
Now, if I may have your patient attention, I shall, as I am enabled, illustrate this fact by the content. Scripture best explainsScripture, as diamond cuts diamond. The Word of God carries its own keys for all its locks. It is profitable to study Scripture,not in fragments, but in connected paragraphs. It is well to see the glory of a star, but better to behold the whole constellationin which it shines. When I have dwelt upon the context, I shall, in the second place, press home certain joyful Truths connectedwith the subject.
I. There is to be a light breaking in upon the sons of men who sit in darkness and this light is to be found only in the IncarnateGod. Let me ILLUSTRATE THIS FACT BY THE CONTEXT. I must carry you back to the 14th verse of the seventh chapter. The signof coming light is Jesus. "Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son,and shall call His name Immanuel." In Judah's trouble, the Virgin-Born was God's token that He would deliver and speedily-forin less time than it would take such a child to reach years of knowledge, both Judah's royal adversaries would be gone.
The sign was good for Ahaz, but it is better far for us. Behold the Incarnate Son of God born of Mary at Bethlehem-what canthis intend for us but Divine Grace? If the Lord had meant to destroy us, He would not have assumed our nature. If He hadnot been moved with mighty love to a guilty race, He would never have taken upon Himself their flesh and blood. It is a miracleof miracles that the Infinite should become an Infant-that He who is pure Spirit and fills all things, should be wrapped inswaddling bands and cradled in a manger! He took not on Him the nature of angels, though that would have been a tremendousstoop from Deity, but He descended lower, still-for He took on Him the seed of Abraham. "He was made in all things like untoHis brethren," though, "He counted it not robbery to be equal with God."
It is not in the power of human lips to speak out all the comfort which this one sign contains. If any troubled soul willlook believingly at God in human flesh, he must take heart of hope. If he looks believingly, his comfort will come right speedily.The birth of Jesus is the proof of the good will of God to men-I am unable to conceive of proof more sure. He would not havecome here to be born among men, to live among them, suffer and to die for them, if He had been slow to pardon, or unwillingto save! O despairing Soul, does not Immanuel, God with us, make it hard to doubt the mercy of the Lord?
We have comfort in the fact that our Lord was truly Man. He whom we worship became one with us in nature. He was born as otherchildren are born, save that His mother was a virgin. He was fed as other children were fed, upon curds and honey, the foodof a pastoral country. He had to be developed as to His natural powers, even as other little ones. He grew up from childhoodto youth and from youth to manhood, passing through all the gradations of human weakness, even as we have done. And He wasobedient to His parents, even as other children should be. He is, therefore, really and truly a Man-and this fact is a brightparticular star for sinners' eyes. Come to Jesus, all you who languish under terror and dread because of the majesty of Deity,for here you see how compassionate He is, how sympathetic He can be, yes, how near of kin He has become!
He is God, but He is God with us. He is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh-a Brother born for adversity. And here themost trembling may be at rest. God in our nature is a grand prophecy of salvation and bliss for us. Why has He come down tous but that we may come up to Him? Why has He taken our nature in its sorrow, but that we may be made partakers of the DivineNature in righteousness and holiness? He comes down, not to thrust us lower, but to lift us to heights of perfection and glory!That Jesus is Man, and yet God, is full of hope and joy for us who believe in Him. I do not feel as if I wanted to enlargeupon this glorious Truth with words alone. Oh, that the Holy Spirit would convey to each one of my hearers the light whichshines from the star of Incarnation!
Oh, that at this moment the people who walk in darkness may see in the Incarnate God a great light and perceive in Him theprophecy and assurance of all good things! Not long shall evil oppress the Believer, for in Christ Jesus God is with us! Andif God is for us, who can be against us?-
"O joy! There sits in our flesh,
Upon a throne of light,
One of a human mother born,
In perfect Godhead bright!
Forever God, forever Man,
My Jesus stall endure!
And fixed on Him, my hope remains
Further on we see our Lord Jesus as the holdfast of the soul in time of darkness. See in the eighth verse of the eighth chapterthe whole country overwhelmed by the fierce armies of the Assyrians as when a land is submerged beneath a flood. Then youread-"And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck; and the stretchingout of his wings shall fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel." The one hope that remained for Judah was that her countrywas Immanuel's land! There would Immanuel be born. There would He labor and there would He die. He was by Eternal Covenantthe King of that land and no Assyrian could keep Him from His throne.
Whatever the enemy might do, the land was still, "Your land, O Immanuel!" If, my dear Friend, you are a believer in Christ,you belong to Him and you always were His, by Sovereign right, even when the enemy held you in possession. The devil had sethis mark upon you so that you might be forever his branded slave, but he had no legal right to you, for
Immanuel had redeemed you and He claimed you as His own. Had we known, we might exultingly have gloried over you, "Your soul,O Immanuel!" The Father gave you to Jesus and Jesus Himself bought you with His blood and, though you knew it not, He hadthe title-deeds of you and would not lose His inheritance.
Herein lay your hope when all other hope was gone1 Herein is your hope now! If you belong to Jesus, He will have you. If Hebought you with His blood, He will not shed that blood in vain. If on the Cross He bore your sin, He will not suffer you tobear it and so to make void His sacrifice. If you belong to Him He will deliver you, even as David snatched the lamb of hisflock from the jaw of the lion and the paw of the bear. O Sinner, this is the great hope we have for you-if you were givenof old to Jesus He will rescue you from the hand of the enemy! This, also, is your own hope-if you believe in Jesus you belongto Jesus! If you trust Him, He has redeemed you with a price and will also redeem you with power. If you cast your guiltysoul at His dear feet and take Him to be your own Savior, you are not your own, but bought with a price-and sooner shall Heavenand earth pass away than one whom Jesus calls His own shall be left to perish. "Having loved His own, He loved them unto theend." Immanuel, God with us, is strong to rescue His own out of the enemy's hands.
Further on in the chapter we learn that Jesus is our star of hope as to the destruction of the enemy. The foes of God's peopleshall be surely vanquished and destroyed because of Immanuel. Note well, in verses nine and 10, how it is put twice over,like an exultant taunt-"Gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces; gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces.Take counsel together, and it shall come to nothing; speak the word, and it shall not stand: for Immanuel." Our version translatesthe word into "God with us," but it is, "Immanuel." In Him, even in our Lord Jesus Christ, dwells all the fullness of theGodhead bodily and He has brought all that Godhead to bear upon the overthrow of the foes of His people.
Let the powers of darkness consult and plot as they may, they can never destroy the Lord's redeemed. Lo! I see councils ofevil spirits-they sit down in Pandemonium and conspire to ruin a soul redeemed by blood. They lay their heads together. Theyuse a cunning deep as Hell-they are eager to destroy the soul that rests in Jesus. In vain their devices, for the IncarnateGod is embodied Wisdom! Now see them-they rise from the council table. They put on their harness. Their arrows are dippedin malice and their bows are strong to shoot afar. Each foul spirit takes his sword, his sharp sword, that will cut a soulto the center and kill it with despair-but their weapons shall all fail. If we fly to Jesus, who is God with us, no weaponthat is formed against us shall prosper.
His name, Immanuel, is the terror of the hosts of Hell! God with us means confusion to our foes. As the death of death andHell's destruction, our Immanuel cries to the legions of the Pit, "Gird yourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces. Girdyourselves, and you shall be broken in pieces"! Let us take courage and defy the legions of darkness. Let us charge them withthis war cry, "God is with us." Immanuel, who has espoused our cause, is God Himself, almighty to save-the enemies of oursouls shall be trodden under His feet and He shall shortly bruise Satan even under our feet. Satan, from the first, hatedGod in our nature, for thus man was exalted beyond the angels and this, his pride could not endure. The Lord Jesus is as thestar Wormwood to our spiritual adversaries, rousing their fiercest hate and foreboding their sure overthrow.
Further on we find the Lord Jesus as the morning light after a night of darkness. The last verses of the eighth chapter picturea horrible state of wretchedness and despair-"And they shall pass through it, hard-pressed and hungry: and it shall come topass, that when they shall be hungry, they shall fret themselves, and curse their king and their God, and look upward. Andthey shall look unto the earth; and behold trouble and darkness, dimness of anguish; and they shall be driven to darkness."But see what a change awaits them! Read the fine translation of the Revised Version: "But there shall be no gloom to her thatwas in anguish." What a marvelous light from the midst of a dreadful darkness! It is an astounding change, such as only Godwith us could work!
Many of you know nothing about the miseries described in those verses, but there are some here who have traversed that terriblewilderness and I am going to speak to them. I know where you are this morning-you are being driven as captives into the landof despair and for the last few months you have been tramping along a painful road, "hard-pressed and hungry." You are sorelyput to it and your soul finds no food of comfort, but is ready to faint and die. You fret yourself-your heart is wearing awaywith care and grief, and hopelessness. In the bitterness of your soul you are ready
to curse the day of your birth. The captive Israelites cursed their king who had lead them into their defeat and bondage.In the fury of their agony they even cursed God and longed to die.
It may be that your heart is in such a ferment of grief that you know not what you think, but are like a man at his wits'end. Those who led you into sin are bitterly remembered and as you think upon God you are troubled. This is a dreadful casefor a soul to be in and it involves a world of sin and misery. You look up, but the heavens are as brass above your head.Your prayers appear to be shut out from God's ear. You look around you upon the earth and behold, "trouble and darkness, anddimness of anguish." Your every hope is slain and your heart is torn asunder with remorse and dread. Every hour you seem tobe hurried by an irresistible power into greater darkness, yes, even into the eternal midnight.
In such a case none can give you comfort save Immanuel, God with us! Only God, espousing your cause and bearing your sin,can possibly save you! Look, He comes for your salvation! Behold, He has come to seek and to save that which was lost! Godhas come down from Heaven and veiled Himself in our flesh that He might be able to save to the uttermost. He can save thechief of sinners-he can save you. Come to Jesus, you that have gone furthest into transgression, you that sit down in despondency,you that shut yourselves up in the iron cage of despair. For such as you there shines this star of the first magnitude! Jesushas appeared to save and He is God and Man in one Person-Man that He may feel our woes-God that He may help us out of them!No minister can save you! No priest can save you-you know this right well-but here is One who is able to save to the uttermost,for He is God as well as Man!
The great God is good at a dead lift. When everything else has failed, the lover of Omnipotence can lift a world of sin! Jesusis almighty to save! That which in itself is impossibility is possible with God. Sin which nothing else can remove is blottedout by the blood of Immanuel. Immanuel, our Savior, is God with us-and God with us means difficulty removed and a perfectwork accomplished! But I fail to tell you in words. Oh, that the Light, itself, would shine into your souls that those ofyou who have as yet no hope may see a great light and may from now on be of good courage!
Once more, dear Friends, we learn from that which follows our text that the reign of Jesus is the star of the golden future.He came to Galilee of the Gentiles and made that country glorious, which had been brought into contempt. That corner of Palestinehad very often borne the brunt of invasion and had felt more than any other region the edge of the keen Assyrian sword. Theywere at first troubled when the Assyrian was bought off with a thousand talents of silver, but they were more heavily afflictedwhen Tiglathpileser carried them all away to Assyria, for which see the 15th chapter of the second book of the Kings.
It was a wretched land, with a mixed population despised by the purer race of Jews. But that very country became gloriouswith the Presence of the Incarnate God! It was there that all manner of diseases were healed. It was there the seas were stilledand the multitudes were fed! It was there that the Lord Jesus found His Apostles and there He met the whole company of Hisfollowers whom He had risen from the dead. That first land to be invaded by the enemy was made the headquarters of the armyof salvation! This very Zebulun and Naphtali, which had been so downtrodden and despised, was made the scene of the mightyworks of the Son of God!
Even so, at this day His gracious Presence is the day-dawn of our joy! If Christ comes to you, my dear Hearer, as God withus, then shall your joy be great, for you shall joy as with the joy of harvest and as those rejoice that divide the spoil!Is it not so? Many of us can bear our witness that there is no joy like that which Jesus brings. Here read and interpret thethird verse of the ninth chapter. Then shall your enemy be defeated, as in the day of Midian. Gideon was, in his dream, likenedto a barley cake which struck the tent of Midian, so that it lay along. He and his few heroes, with their pitchers and theirtrumpets, stood and shouted, "The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!" and Midian melted away before them! So shall it be withour sins and doubts, and fears if we believe in Jesus, the Incarnate God-they shall vanish like the mists of the morning.The Lord Jesus will break the yoke of our burden and the rod of our oppressor as in the day of Midian. Be of good courage,you that are in bondage to fierce and cruel adversaries, for in the name of Jesus, who is God with us, you shall destroy them!
This you see in the fourth verse. Please follow me as I dwell on each verse. When Jesus comes, you shall have eternal peace,for His battle is the end of battles. "All the armor of the armed man in the tumult, and the garments rolled in blood, shalleven be for burning, for fuel of fire." This is the rendering of the Revision and it is good. The Prince of Peace wars againstwar, and destroys it. What a glorious day is that in which the Lord breaks the bow and cuts the spear in
sunder, and burns the chariot in the fire! I think I see it now. My sins, which were the weapons of my foes, the Lord pilesin heaps. What mountains of prey! But soon He brings the fire-brand of His love from the altar of His sacrifice and He setsfire to the gigantic pile. See how they blaze! They are utterly consumed forever. The enemy has now no weapon that he canuse against my soul.
The Incarnate God has broken the power of the adversary, for the sting of death is sin and that He has made an end of. Hehas thus destroyed the war which raged in our souls and now He reigns as Prince of Peace-and we have peace in Him. Now isit that the Lord Jesus becomes glorious in our eyes and He whose name is Immanuel is now crowned in our heart with many crownsand honored with many titles. What a list of glories we have here! What a burst of song it makes when we sing of the Messiah-"Hisname shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace"! Each word soundslike a salvo of artillery! It is all very well to hear players on instruments and sweet singers rehearse these words-but tobelieve them and realize them in your own soul, is better by far!
When every fear and every hope, and every power and every passion of our nature fills the orchestra of our heart and all unitein one inward song unto the glorious Immanuel, what music it is! He is to us the Wonderful, the Counselor, the Mighty God,the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace and much more than words can tell. Do but get Christ Jesus in your soul as theIncarnate God and He will set up a government within your nature which shall bring you peace, righteousness, joy and eternalglory! He will so reign over you that your happiness shall know no bounds! You shall climb from Grace to Grace, from joy tojoy, from peace to peace, yes, from Heaven to the highest Heaven! This all along shall be your comfort, that Jesus is bothGod and Man, even God with us.
Thus have I very briefly skimmed over the connection. Had we time and Grace, what a wealth of thought might be drawn fromthese inexhaustible mines!
II. But now, secondly, I want to PRESS HOME CERTAIN TRUTHS CONNECTED WITH MY THEME. Come,
Holy Spirit, to help the preacher! Come, Divine Comforter, to troubled hearts and give them rest in Immanuel! Immanuel isa grand word. "God with us" means more than tongue can tell! It means enmity removed on our part and justice vindicated onGod's part. It means the whole Godhead engaged on our side, resolved to bless us. But you say to me, "Who is this? Are yousure that Immanuel is Jesus of Nazareth?"
Yes, Jesus is Immanuel. Will you turn to Matthew 1:21 and read onward, "And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus: for He shall save His people from theirsins. Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying: Behold, a virginshall be with Child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God withus." Do you see this? They call His name Jesus to fulfill the prophecy that they should call His name Immanuel! It is a singularfulfillment surely. It can only be accounted for by the fact that the Holy Spirit regards the name, "Jesus," as being tantamountto the name, "Immanuel." The Savior is God with us. Jesus, a Savior, is, in the Hebrew, Joshua, or Jehoshua, that is, Jehovahsaving.
The sense is the same as that of Immanuel or, "God with us," or for us since God for us is sure to save us. The two namesare the same in essential meaning. If God has come to save, then God is with us. If God Himself is our salvation, then Godis on our side. And if the Child born of the virgin is indeed the Lord of Glory, then is God our friend! Strong Son of God!Immortal Love! We have not seen Your face, but we can trust Your power and rest upon Your love. Your very birth brings hope!But as for Your death, when You did bear our sins in Your own body on the Cross, this is the fulfillment of all our desiresin the canceling of sin, the removal of wrath and the securing of eternal life! Yes, Jesus is God with us.
Perhaps you wish to know a little more of the incident in the text which exhibits Jesus as the great light. We have spokenof Zebulun and Naphtali-were those regions really benefited by the coming of the Lord Jesus? Just look a little further on,to Matthew 4:12: "Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, He departed into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and dweltin Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zebulun and Naphtali: that it might be fulfilled which was spokenby Isaiah the Prophet, saying, The land of Zebulun, and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galileeof the Gentiles; the people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of deathlight is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Yes, Beloved, our Lord made His home in the darkest parts. He looked about and saw no country so ignorant, no country so sorrowfulas Galilee of the Gentiles and therefore He went there and lifted it up to Heaven by priceless privileges! His ministry ofrepentance and faith was in itself a glorious light! But He did many mighty works to confirm it. Why, the whole country roundwas full of sick folk whom He had restored. You could not go half a mile but what you met a blind man who told of how Jesushad restored his sight, or a sick woman who had been raised up from the fever, or some paralytic who had been made whole!That country must have been glad, indeed. Multitudes would never forget how they heard Him by the sea. They said, "What sermonsHe preached! He made our hearts dance for joy and then He fed us and we ate of barley loaves and little fish till we werefilled. He is a wonderful Prophet and this is a wonderful country. It was once dark enough, but now enlightened by His Presence."
Beloved, I pray that Jesus may come to you if you are in the dark, today, and work miracles for you, feed you and touch youand make you glad so that, though you were the most unhappy of beings, you may become the happiest of mortal men! Galilee-plundered,despoiled, despised-became, by-and-by, glorious-because of Him who is Immanuel. This is a happy omen for you, dear Friends-ifyou have been the most sorrowful of beings, the Lord Jesus may come at once to you and make you rejoice with great joy! Jesusrescues from contempt, from ignorance, from misery, from despair and therein reveals Himself as "God with us."
We will turn back to where we opened our Bibles at the first and there we learn that, to be God with us, Jesus must be acceptedby us. He cannot be with us if we will not have Him. Hear how the Prophet words it: "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Sonis given." As a Child He was born, as a Son He was given. He comes to us in two ways-in His human nature, born-in His DivineNature, given. But I want you to see that all the sweetness and light that can come to you through Him must come by your puttingboth your hands upon Him and taking Him to be your own. Here is one hand, "Unto us a Child is born." Here is the other, "Untous a Son is given."
Do you ask, "What are those two hands?" I received a note from one of my hearers, who pleads, "Tell me, Sir, what faith is.Tell me what you mean by believing and trusting." My dear Friend, I am always telling you that and I mean to keep on alwaystelling you it so long as I have a tongue to move. By a daring act of appropriation take Jesus to be yours and say with me-oh,that we could all say it in one great shout!-"UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, UNTO US A SON IS GIVEN." God gives Him, we take Him!He is born, we take Him up in our arms and feel ready to cry, "Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace; for my eyes haveseen Your Salvation."
He is a Son given. Shall we not accept this Gift of gifts and love Him because He has first loved us? To believe is to takefreely what God gives freely. It is the simplest thing that can be. I could not explain to you what to drink is, but I willput this glass to my lips and actually perform the action. Now you see what it is. The water is put to the lips, it is allowedto flow into the mouth and down the throat and so it is drunk. Take Christ just so. Up to the very lips of your receptionHe flows-open the mouth of your soul and take Him into yourself. "May I?" you ask. May you? You are threatened with damnationif you do not! This is one side of the Gospel message-"He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; he that believes notshall be damned."
A man may certainly do that which involves him in condemnation if he does not do it. That awful threat is one of the mostpowerful bits of Gospel that I know of-it drives while the promise draws. If you want Christ, you may have Him. If you desireto have God with you, He waits to be gracious unto you. If you wish for Immanuel, behold Him in Jesus, your Lord. "Oh, butI wish I had some sign that I might be sure!" What sign do you need beyond the gift of God, the birth of Jesus? Away withdemands which are wild and ungenerous. The Word of God bids you believe and live. The moment you believe in Jesus He is yours.
Say, then, this morning, "Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given," and say it with fullness of delight! Be sure thatyou go on with the verse to the end-"and the government shall be upon His shoulder." If Christ is your Savior He must be yourKing-
"Butknow, nor of the terms complain Where Jesus comes He comes to reign: To reign, and with no partial sway; Lusts must beslain that disobey." The moment we really believe in Jesus as our salvation we fall before Him and call Him Master and Lord.We serve when He saves. He has redeemed us unto Himself and we acknowledge that we are His. A generous man once bought a slave-girl.She was put up on the block for auction and he pitied her and purchased her. But when he had bought her he said to her, "Ihave bought you to set you free. There are your papers, you are a free woman." The grateful creature fell at his feet andcried, "I will never leave you! If you have made me free I will be your servant as long as you live and serve you better thanany slave could do."
This is how we feel towards Jesus. He sets us free from the dominion of Satan and then, as we need a Ruler, we say, "And thegovernment shall be upon His shoulder." We are glad to be ruled by "Immanuel, God with us." This, also, is a door of hopeto us. That Jesus shall be the Monarch of our hearts is our highest joy! To us He shall always be "Wonderful." When we thinkof Him, or speak about Him, it shall be with reverent awe. When we need advice and comfort, we will fly to Him, for He shallbe our Counselor. When we need strength, we will look to Him as our Mighty God. Born again by His Spirit, we will be His childrenand He shall be the Everlasting Father. Full of joy and rest, we will call Him Prince of Peace.
Are you willing to have Christ govern you? Will you spend your lives in praising Him? You are willing to have Christ to pardonyou, but we cannot divide Him and therefore you must also have Him to sanctify you. You must not take the crown from His headbut accept Him as the Monarch of your soul. If you would have His hand to help you, you must obey the scepter which it grasps.Blessed Immanuel, we are right glad to obey You! In You our darkness ends and from the shadow of death we rise to the Lightof life! It is salvation to be obedient to You. It is the end of gloom to her that was in anguish to bow herself before You!
May God the Holy Spirit take of the things of Christ and show them unto us and then we shall all cry-
"Go worship at Immanuel's feet! See in His face what wonders meet! Earth is too narrow to express His worth, His Grace, Hisrighteousness."
PORTIONS OF SCRIPTURE READ BEFORE SERMON- Isaiah 7:10-16; 8:5-8,19-22; 9:1-7. HYMNS FROM "OUR OWN HYMN BOOK"-251, 260, 256.