Bible Passage: Something Truly New Under the Sun
Pastor: Pastor Berg
Sermon Date: December 18, 2016
“What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” Those words were penned by wise King Solomon in his book of Ecclesiastes. We can see the Holy Spirit’s wisdom in his words, can’t we? Winds blow. Waters flow. Babies cry. Boys bicker. Girls giggle. Boys and girls fall in love. They grow up and marry. Women talk about labor and delivery room war stories. Men brag about the big one that got away. Chariots or cars tend to break down when you need them the most. Those who refuse to learn history’s lessons are doomed to repeat them. There is nothing new under the sun! To steal a line from Luther: this is most certainly true!
Nothing is new under the sun, except one thing. THere is one thing that is completely and utterly new under the sin. This one, single, unique thing is absolutely jaw dropping. This one thing, this new thing was founded upon the shoulders who had gone before. There was another one, a promised son to be exact, who had been promised to a man named Abraham and his wife, Sarah. This promised one, this baby boy named Isaac, wasn’t born until Abraham had aged longer than a fine wine and Sarah’s womb was well past its prime. Her biological clock had long since struck midnight. Yet, wonder of wonders—actually miracle of miracles—Sarah had her Isaac in her old age.
Fast forward 2000 years to the time of Christ. Another worn and weary woman by the name of Elizabeth—again her biological clock having struck midnight—receives the news that she would have a son. You and I know this bouncing baby boy as John the Baptist. In these women’s wombs, God did what seemed undoable. God brought forth life in women who literally laughed at the thought of having a baby at their age. These births were amazing—literally miraculous, yet they happened—with God’s help—the good old fashioned way. Sarah and Elizabeth were the moms. Abraham and Zechariah were the dads. The birds and the bees went to work once again in these homes.
But this morning, we celebrate something truly new. Something that surpasses all the birds and bees put together; there is one boy, only one, who was ever conceived in the womb of a virgin. “Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and call his name Immanuel.” God promised it and it came to be. Through Mary God did the undoable: God reached down from heaven into history and took upon himself our humanity!
God makes thousand of promises on the pages of the Scriptures. Yet, in a way, this one promise surpasses them all: A virgin will have a Son! Originally, this promise was made as a sign for King Ahaz. You heard about him already this morning. At best, Ahaz seems to be indifferent about God. He didn’t feel the need, really the want, for the Lord’s signs. Oh, he tried to look the part. He displayed some false piety when he said: “I will not ask, neither will I test the Lord.” Ahaz didn’t want the sign or the promise, but God gave them anyway, with you and me in mind. IN the face of human impossibility, God gave a sign of divine possibility. The virgin will have a Son!
“A virgin having a son!” To Ahaz, God’s sign must have seemed like a joke. Yet, this sign was one last call for unbelieving Ahaz to believe in a God who is much more powerful and much more amazing than the king himself. This was one last chance to trust in a God who can break the laws and rules of nature because he’s the one who made them! A virgin having a son! It is impossible to believe if you insist on living like Ahaz, if you live by sight and not by faith. The truth is Ahaz was a wicked king—one of the worst in Judah’s history. He lived for his pleasures instead of for God’s will. He lived for the flesh instead of by faith in God’s Son. He lived for the moment instead of looking toward his eternal future. Ahaz was a practical guy who wanted to trust his five little senses far more than he would trust 500 promises of the God of Truth. Simply put, Ahaz didn’t want to believe what God wanted to tell him.
But Ahaz isn’t here today. You are. I am. As we ponder these words of God, do we find any of Ahaz’s spirit among us? Aren’t there times when we aren’t interested in hearing what God wants to say to us? Aren’t there times where we test God’s patience with our doubts about his promises? An honest evaluation of our hearts finds those things, doesn’t it? Repentant hearts remember that we are but dust and ashes. The Lord has promised none of us a tomorrow here on this earth. But God has promised something. God has promised something for today. Each and everyday God allows us to live on this earth, God promises each and Lord has promised none of us a tomorrow here on this earth. But God has promised something. God has promised something for today. Each and everyday God allows us to live on this earth, God promises each and e, and presence. But that’s not all! God does promise something for tomorrow. He promises ultimate victory, a forever of tomorrows in heaven, because of Immanuel.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” Solomon said. Fashions come and go. Music that is popular today is forgotten tomorrow. However, a heart that repents of its sin is never out of style. A heart that humbles itself before the Lord, never ever is out of fashion. Oh, that the Lord would bless us all, as we wrap up this Advent season, with a still, quiet heart that simply seeks the rest that Jesus promises us. Our rest is wrapped up with that virgin’s little boy. “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and call his name Immanuel.”
How awesome is this promise of God? God loved you so much that he promised to dwell with us, not just his presence, but his person. God loved you so much he became your real flesh and blood as he entered time and history and humanity through the virgin’s womb. Think of that! All the disasters that have happened since our mother Eve traded in her righteousness for a bite of forbidden fruit are undone through this promise, through Immanuel. All the misery and death—right down to this very day—that came as a result of Adam and Eve’s infatuation with forbidden fruit is undone by the fruit of the virgin’s womb, the one who brings health and healing and hope to each one of our lives. That is God’s promise. That is what we celebrate this and every Christmas: God keeps his promises.
Do you remember the first promise that God ever made on the pages of Scripture? “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The baby in the virgin’s belly was destined to be Satan’s head crusher. The baby in the virgin’s belly was destined to break the back of our sin. He was God’s appointed and Anointed One who came to literally beat death to death so that we could live with him forever! Through our first father Adam, we received sin. We lost so much. Yet, through the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, you and I have the privilege of not only calling God our creator, but our Father in heaven. Jesus is what his name means: Immanuel—God with us, God for us, God one of us, God on our side.
Think of it this way: when Jesus took on human flesh, he became the beall and end all of humanity. To borrow a phrase from Neil Armstrong: “What Jesus did was one small step for the Son of Man, one giant leap for mankind.” As Jesus steps into the world and in perfect obedience to his Father’s law, because of Jesus and through Jesus, we leap forward as those who actually love God’s Law. As Jesus stepped out in faith in his Father’s promises, we leap forward in faith as sons and daughters of the Father in heaven. As Jesus steps up to a cross and our sin steps up with him, to be nailed with him to the cross, to be forgiven, to be done away with, because of Jesus and through Jesus we leap forward into a brand new status—from sinner to saint. As Jesus steps out of the grave, you and I leap forward into a new life in Christ that will never be taken away from us. As Jesus steps into the glory that is his from eternity, one day, because of Jesus and through Jesus we will be taken up to glory, to see him as he is, to spend our forever of tomorrows with him in heaven.
In the virgin’s baby boy, we gain far more than we ever lost through Adam. Right now, through Baptism, we share in his glory. Right now, through Lord’s Supper, we are filled up with the good things that God has done for us this Christmas. Right here, right now, the Holy Spirit fills us with faith, hope, and peace that goes beyond understanding. All those things are yours because of Jesus and through Jesus, the One Truly New Thing Under the Sun!
I pray that you’ve enjoyed this Advent season. With so much going on, I pray that you’ve had the time to stop and ponder and wonder at this divine mystery of God becoming man through the virgin birth. In Jesus, God is truly doing something new! “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and call his name Immanuel, which means God with us!” Amen