Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
Matthew 1 verses 18 to 25 – These must be among the best known verses in the Bible – and most loved verses.
It is a beautiful story –and it is a true story. It is the account of our gracious God at work – giving us, and the world Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Lord.
This is how it begins – and all is not well to begin with – that is often the case when God is at work.
Our God wants to work in our hearts and lives and through these lives into the dark world out there with light and love and mercy and grace – to minister to the needs of those around us.
Our God has a word for each of us and that word is usually for sharing.
The world loves a baby – but a baby cannot tell you what to do – perhaps this is why the world takes this account of the work of God only so far, and no further – because this baby – as with all other babies – grows and develops and speaks.
This baby becomes the man Jesus Christ – and he had and has so much to say to the world – as well as to you and me.
God becomes one of us – so that we might become like HIM.
This is a very factual account of what happened – these verses deal with facts – there are no expressions of feelings – it is not over emotional – nor is it sentimental.
It tells what happened with bare stark facts – and yet it speaks about something that raises all sorts of feelings and emotions.
It speaks about Jesus the Saviour coming to save people from their sins – and one thing that many people do not want to hear is that they are sinners in need of a Saviour.
You either come to love this baby – or you crucify HIM.
Mary and Joseph were engaged to be married – they were betrothed – which in the eyes of the law meant that they were legally married – but the marriage would not be consummated for 12 months.
They had never come together – there had been no sexual union – but in Mary’s womb a miracle was taking place. God was preparing a very special child in a very special way – this is unique.
There is not a single word from Joseph – no anger – no temper – no rage – no revenge.
Joseph is a godly man – a righteous man – and when he learns part of the truth – he is thinking of putting Mary away privately – quietly – and without any fuss.
Legally – all he needed to do to divorce Mary was to tell her to go with just two witnesses present.
When Jesus draws near to people – when God comes close – when it all becomes real – questions and problems and issues do arise.
When God moves and acts we never know what is going to happen.
It is at this very awkward moment that God sends supernatural help.
An angel comes – God is ministering to this very real need – Joseph is in an AGONY OF MIND as he is torn between two possibilities – to put Mary away – or to take her to himself – Joseph is considering what to do.
Joseph falls asleep – and an angel appears to him and speaks to him – “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife – what is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Joseph, this is the power of God at work in a way never previously experienced in the world.
Verse 21 – she shall bring forth a son – you shall call his name JESUS – for he shall save his people from their sins.
Verse 22 – all this was done to fulfil what had been prophesied by Isaiah 600 years previously.
Verse 23 – The virgin will be with child – and will give birth to a son – they will call him Emmanuel – which means – GOD WITH US.
If Jesus was only a good man – if Jesus was only a moral leader – if Jesus was just a fine teacher and attractive speaker and an example worth following – he could not lift us up – and minister to our needs or heal our sicknesses – and forgive our sins.
Jesus Christ was, and is, the Son of God – and he is able to do all these things.
In Christ Jesus, God comes to deal with sin – and sickness – and death – three things which God never meant man to experience.
God saw the mess man was in – God saw what was happening in the days of Noah – God saw the predicament at the time of Ahab and Jezebel when he raised up that wild man Jehu to become king in Israel – God saw the attack upon Jerusalem and the Temple when the time was drawing close for the coming of the Messiah and God raised up the Maccabees to rescue Israel – and now the Messiah comes – and not in the way any of us would have sent the Messiah – the Saviour.
We said we would save these people – we told Isaiah – and Micah – they are unable to help themselves – they need outside help – and GOD SENDS JESUS.
Jesus lived up to His Name – He was GOD WITH US – and He saved saves people from their sins.
This is the Name which is above very Name.
Jesus comes to be WITH US – and to SAVE US – not just to save us from loneliness – frustration – anxiety – worry – fears – but from SINS.
The tragedy is that many would like to be saved from anything else but their sins.
The world says – you cannot change human nature – the message of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is that human nature can be changed – Jesus Christ is the One Who can do that – and he is the Only one who can do that.
It is not just patching up and repairing what is already there – but a new creation.
“DON’T GET SPIRITUALLY STUCK AT CHRISTMAS”
One line of a popular song says – “Man will live for evermore because of Christmas Day” – that is just not true. It is a nice thought though? Is it? Man can turn from Christmas Day to his sins.
It has been mentioned many times now – there was that strange incident in the first World War – it was Christmas Morning – the opposing front line trenches were very near – the ground was covered in SNOW – at 10 o’clock somebody threw a snowball – then someone began to sing carols – snowballs and carols were exchanged – the soldiers came out and mixed and mingled – when night fell the men went back to their trenches. Next morning – a hand grenade – then shell fire – lives were lost as warfare resumed.
Man has to go further – to Calvary – to the Cross – to the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
YES – we want to be saved from war – from pain – from hell.
JESUS says – Do you want me to save you from your sins?
It is a very short passage – a few verses – yet it contains so much – a miracle – God at work – and our God continues to work and move and speak.
“Almighty Father, at this season of the year when many thoughts are on so many things – and there are many demands and distractions – come near Lord Jesus – draw close O living and loving Christ. As I pray for someone who does not really know you – and who has never met you personally – Holy Spirit, hear my prayer as I name that person before you. Amen”
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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