Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO
The Virgin will conceive and bear as son, and you will call His name Immanuel.
INI + AMEN.
Today’s the Annunciation. The announcement. The headline. What’s announced? What’s the headline? “The Virgin will conceive and bear a son.” That Virgin is Mary. It’s nine months until Christmas! Today we remember that Mary believed the Promise of the Lord that the angel Gabriel was sent to preach to her.
“Let it be to me according to your word of promise,” she says. Today we’re rejoicing—white in the midst of Lent!—over our Lord’s conception. Our joy is that the Son of God “for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”
The Son who would be born of the Virgin will be called “Immanuel.” Immanuel means “God with us.” That’s Jesus. Jesus is God with us. The God who isn’t just the “Author of Life,” but the God who is conceived for us, who’s carried nine months in the womb for us, who was born for us. That’s Immanuel, God with us.
The announcement of Jesus, His conception, His being God with us, is a great comfort to us during these troubling and uncertain times. The future for us is unknown, not to the Lord, but He delivers comfort to us from the preaching of what has already done! This sustains our trust in Him, that we would be saved.
((2. “God with us” isn’t an idea but a person.))
Now, God being with us is a comforting thought at times like this. We hear “God with us” as “God with me.” And often we take control of that idea and the Promise of Isaiah 7. “God’s with me because I think He is. God’s with me because I feel that He is. God’s with me because that’s the sort of thing God does, after all.” But what if you don’t feel it? And really, are any of us feeling “God with us” right now? So we turn it into a mantra, God’s with us,” and if we say it enough, it’ll be true, or at least we can pretend it is even though everything going on in the world tells us that He’s really not. He’s abandoned us.
But “God with us” isn’t an idea that we can control. We don’t set the rules. No, God sets the terms of the whole arrangement, and according to His Promise in Isaiah 7, “God with us” isn’t an idea. “God with us” is a person, the Baby born of the Virgin. “God with us” is the same “Lord” who was “with [Mary].” The Lord in her womb. “God with us” is Jesus.
Jesus is God come to us. He’s in the womb of Mary. God doesn’t stay far away from us. He’s not “somewhere” and if I hope enough, He’ll be there for me. No, Jesus comes where He’s needed most. “God with us” “becomes flesh and dwells among us.” He comes down to our level. He’s born in want, born in need. When Mary “gave birth to her firstborn son,” she ”wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” He’s born to people who didn’t want Him, to a mother not ready in herself, but made ready by the Lord’s own preaching through Gabriel.
Jesus comes to the poor, the destitute, the hungry, the sinful, the dying, the doubting, the dead. “God with us” in a womb, “God with us” eating with and forgiving prostitutes, thieves, and other sinners, “God with us” raising the dead, “God with us” on a cross, “God with us” in a tomb, “God with us” raised from the dead. Jesus is your “God with us” in all those ways. For that’s how He was “God with us” for you.
((1. Jesus (“God with us”) is the sign that He will save us.))
The baby named “God with us,” who was born of the Virgin, would be the sign that Yahweh would save His people. That’s the context of Isaiah 7. Jesus is that “God with us,” and He’s still the sign of salvation. Even for us. Jesus wasn’t just “God with us” back then. No, Jesus is “God with us” for us today. “God with us” to save us: Baptism, His Supper, His preaching, His Word, His forgiveness spoken by me and by you.
Jesus isn’t just the sign that He’s going to save us. Jesus is our salvation. That’s our joy from the Introit this evening: “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Behold, your salvation comes.’” He is salvation in giving Himself up to death, even death on the cross. “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” His body on the cross and His empty tomb are your salvation from your sins of worry, fear, and doubt, and all your sins, from death, and from the power of the devil. His body on the cross and His empty tomb are also the sign that the Lord will save you now and take care of you now. If He’s saved you, He’ll take care if you, too.
The reality is nothing can stop Jesus from saving you. Nothing can stop Him from being “God with us.” That’s just who He is. Nothing can change that, and so nothing can stop Him or His Kingdom. The angel Gabriel preaches, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Jesus Himself promises that “the gates of hell will not prevail against His kingdom,.” His Church. The devil can’t stop Him. Your sins won’t stop Him. His own death didn’t stop Him! Yours won’t either. And so, not even a virus can stop Him! Gabriel’s sermon and this sermon are proof of that! “No Promise will be impossible with God.”
Today’s the Annunciation. It’s all about Immanuel. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is Immanuel. HE is “God with us.” Not an idea. JESUS IS IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US TO SAVE US.
He’s with us as He’s promised to be with us. He sets the terms. Not you or me. “The Lord Himself will give you a sign.” He’s that sign! JESUS IS IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US. He’s God with us in Mary’s womb, in the manger (9 months and counting!), on the cross, in the tomb, out of the tomb! That’s Him saving you. Because He’s GOD WITH US TO SAVE US.
It’s not just an idea. It’s Jesus. He is “God with us.” Holy Baptism, Preaching of His Word, His Word of forgiveness, the Supper of His body and blood. JESUS IS IMMANUEL, GOD WITH US TO SAVE US.
He’ll carry us through, too. Nothing can stop Him. He always keeps His promoses. He was born, crucified, and raised. He really is your “God with us.” You’re baptized. You’re hearing His Word. You’re forgiving each other in His name. Lord willing, soon with His body and blood for you for the forgiveness of your sins. “No Promise will be impossible with God.”
INI + AMEN.