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James Merritt - Divinely Human

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    James Merritt - Divinely Human

The God that is giving you breath and life right now and the God that can take that very breath away from you right now says to you and me, "I want us to be on a first name basis". That's the series that we're starting today. Now you may say, "Okay, where did you get this idea? Why do you know and how do you know that God wants us to be on a first name basis"? I know it because of something a man by the name of Isaiah, a prophet, wrote over 2,700 years ago, and this prophet wrote something that let me know you know what? God wants me to call him by his first name, and he gave us some first names of the God that not only created us, but at Christmas came to us so we could indeed call him by his first name and know him on a first-name basis.

I want you to see this with me. We're in the book of Isaiah. If you bought a copy of God's Word or want to look over with us, we're the book of Isaiah. You don't have to know where it is, I'm going to tell you where it is. First of all, two parts of the Bible: New Testament, old. Don't go to the new, go to the old. Hit Genesis, start going, you know, east and you'll come to the book of Psalms, biggest book in the Bible. Skip Psalms. You'll go about three or four books, you'll hit Isaiah. We're in Isaiah chapter 9. Now, let me tell you, before we read one of the most amazing passages in the Bible, let me tell you what's going on. It's 700 years before Jesus Christ was even born, and this prophet by the name of Isaiah explains Christmas before anybody had ever experienced Christmas.

So think about it now. Seven hundred years before that star was ever shining, before the angels were ever singing, before the cradle was ever rocking, before the wise men were ever giving, before the shepherds were ever kneeling, 700 years before any of that happened, God reveals to Isaiah exactly what this baby who was born in Bethlehem wants to be called. So Isaiah is writing this down and he dips his prophetic pen into inspired ink and he writes down what now Bible scholar say is the centerpiece and the cornerstone of all Christmas prophecy. Now, before I get started into this, I know a lot of you are thinking, "Wait a minute, I already know his first name. His first name is Jesus".

Well, yes, but it's more than that and it's bigger than that. Because had you been in Bethlehem 2,700 or 2,000 years ago and you had heard that somebody down the street had a baby named Jesus, you wouldn't have thought that much about it because that was not the only baby that was named Jesus. Had you lived in Nazareth 2,000 years ago and you lived next door to Mary and Joseph and Jesus, you would have thought much about Jesus being called Jesus because Jesus was a very common name, and there were other boys running around in Jerusalem and in Nazareth and Canaan and Bethlehem that had the name Jesus. However, this Jesus was not like any other Jesus. And what we're going to learn is that all these other names that Isaiah gives to Jesus, we're going to learn, so this Jesus is not just like any other Jesus.

Oh, it's better than that. He's not like any one of us. He is so radically different. But before we get to his names, we got to answer a question because when I tell you what his names are, you're going to go, "That's his name? Really"? And you're going to ask, and be sure to ask this question, "Wait a minute, what does he do or what makes me think or makes you think he deserves to be called by those names"? Because as you're going to see in a moment, we're going to learn that his name is Mighty God, his name is Eternal Father, his name is Wonderful Counselor, his name is Prince of Peace. Now, that's a mouthful. Who in the world deserves even one of those names much less all four of those names? Why did he deserve those names?

And I want to share with you why because the wonder of Christmas is not just how this baby was conceived or even where this baby is born, the wonder of Christmas is who this baby was. Because contrary to popular opinion, the Christmas story is not about Santa Claus is coming to town, the Christmas story is about the God who came to earth as a man, and this is where Christmas gets real dicey to a lot of people and this is where Christmas for a lot of people becomes not a holy day it's just another holiday. Because what I'm going to share with you this morning, in full disclosure, if you want to know why Muslims and Jews and Unitarians and Buddhists and Hindus and Jehovah's Witnesses and every other religion in the world, if you want to know why they vote no to Christmas, why they vote no to Christ, why they vote no to this entire story that we tell every single year, it all goes back to something that Isaiah prophesied about this baby 700 years before he was born.

So let's read this passage together. We're in Isaiah chapter 9, verse 6, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called..." Now, this is what you... what do you call people? You call them by their name. This is his name. He's Wonderful Counselor, he's Mighty God, he's Everlasting Father, he is Prince of Peace. Wow, really? Why does he deserve this again? Why is it that we believe frankly, and not always politically incorrect, why do we think everybody else is wrong and we're right? Why do we believe that he really does deserve these names and he should be called by these names? Because in the first half of that verse, Isaiah says three things about this baby that tells us why he is worthy of all these names that allow us to relate to him on a first name basis and why we can all have a personal, up-close relationship with him.

Three things he says. You ready? Number one, we can relate to the humanity of Jesus. We can relate to the humanity of Jesus. Now, let's go back and see what Isaiah says. Right off the bat, he says, "For to us a child is born". Now, pretty obvious, there's two big words that you need to put a circle around that first verse there. One is child and one is born. So Isaiah says, now, look, this person that's coming down the road, you need to understand two things about him. Number one, he's a child. He is a child just like us. Just like at one time everybody was one time a child, he was a child. In other words, he was a human being. I mean, there's one thing that he had that every person on this planet has to have in order to even get on this planet. He had a mother. You're here because you had a mother. I'm here because I had a mother. You're here because you were once a child, I was also once a child, and so Jesus was a child.

Now you say, "Well, wait a minute. I thought Jesus was God". Well, he was and he is and will forevermore be. We'll get to that in a minute, but that's only half the story. This child was God who became human just like you and me. He had skin, bones, flesh, blood, body, veins, arteries just like us. So he was a child. And then Isaiah goes on to say...and by the way he was born. He wasn't dropped out of a heavenly helicopter. He wasn't beamed down a la Star Trek from heaven above. He was conceived. He spent 9 months in the womb of his mom. He was born. He had ethnicity; he was Jewish. He had relatives; he had brothers and sisters. He had feelings and needs. He got angry, he got hungry, he got thirsty, he got tired, he felt pain, he slept, he walked, he talked, and just like us, he died.

And so when Isaiah talks about this child that was born, even though he didn't even realize it, he was already looking down the road 700 years to a cradle and to a stable and to a manger, and he was telling the world for 700 years later on down the road, you better have your eyes open, better have your ears open 'cause you're going to see and hear the cry of a newborn baby that's going to be completely human. Now, let me stop there and make sure you understand something. When Jesus was born as a child, as you and I were born, he was completely human, okay? However, he did not cease to be God. He was no less God after he was born than he was before he was born.

You say, "Wait a minute, he was a human". Yes, he was but he was also God. He wasn't a semi God, he wasn't a semi man. He wasn't half God, he wasn't half man. He was fully God, he was fully man. He was given by a heavenly father, but he was born to an earthly mother. Now, if you're kind of in the scientific mode of thinking, you must say, "Wait a minute, I don't understand how that can happen". Neither do I. And if you're sitting there saying, "That's just a mystery," I agree. It is a marvelous, magnificent, majestic mystery. However, mystery is not necessarily myth. Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean that you don't believe something.

And here's the point: Isaiah said that this baby, God in the flesh, the reason why he became a human, the reason why he was a child just like you and I were children, the reason why he was born just like you and I was born is be so that, listen now, so that he could become just like us. So that means whatever you're going through right now, he gets it. When you've lost everything that you spent your life working for, all went down the tubes, he gets it. When you've lost a loved one through death and it's just crushed your spirit, he gets it. If you've ever been rejected for doing the right thing, he gets it. So we can relate to the humanity of Jesus. He was a child that was born just like us, okay? But listen, he says something else. He said, "We should rejoice in the divinity of Jesus". We can relate to the humanity of Jesus, but we should rejoice in the divinity of Jesus 'cause this is what he goes on to say. He says, "To us a son is given".

Now, you may be seated down there and say, "Well, isn't that kind of saying the same thing in a different way"? Absolutely not. This is not the same thing. There's a big difference between a child that is born and a son that is given. 'Cause Isaiah is actually telling us two things, okay? He says, look, there's a child that was born. That's the humanity of Jesus. But there's a son that was given, that is the divinity of Jesus. As a child he was born, but as a son he was given. All right, I got a question. Who gave this son? Well, the answer to that is found in what many people say is the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son".

And I guarantee you every time a Jew read that verse for the first time, they would get to that part and they go, "Oh, yeah, that's what Isaiah talked about". Isaiah said that a son would be given because, remember, you need... by the way, parents and grandparents, teach your kids this early. There are always two sides to what I call the Christmas coin: heads, Jesus was a human baby born in Bethlehem just like us. Tails, he was a divine son that was given who was not just like us. So at one in the same time, Jesus is just like us, but at the same time, he's not just like us. You say, "Okay, why"? Here's why. Jesus had his birth in Bethlehem, but he did not have his beginning in Bethlehem. He had his birth in Bethlehem, he didn't have his beginning in Bethlehem.

See, he was God's son long before he ever became Mary's baby. He's the only baby was ever born that the moment he was born, he was as old as his father and older than his mother. No other baby could ever say that. So here's what I want you to understand. There was never a time when Jesus was not and there was never a time that Jesus was not God. He's not like us. There was a time when I was not, there was a time when you were not. Tell me the day, the month, and the year that you were born and I can tell you right now, before the moment you came out of your mother's womb, at least 9 months before that, you were not. Before I was born, I never existed. Before you were born, you never existed. However, Jesus has always existed. Before he was born, he was. After he was born, he was.

Furthermore, there will never be a time when I'm God. I'll never be God. I've never been God and never will be God. On the other hand, there's never been a time and never will be a time when he is not God because the only Christmas gift that God's ever given to this world, listen, was divinely human and humanly divine. The only Christmas gift that God's ever given to this world was absolutely human and absolutely divine. He was a person of divinity wrapped up in a package of humanity. In other words, let me put it to you this way. Do you know why this gift is unique from every other Christmas gift that anybody could ever gift? Because the gift was the giver and the giver was the gift. The gift was the giver and the giver was the gift. The giver was God and the gift was God because God gave himself in the person of his son.

So in these two little phrases: child is born, son is given, you got these two tremendous truths. A child is born, oh, he has humanity. A son is given, oh, he has divinity. So he is one at the same time, the son of an earthly father, a mother and the son of a heavenly father. He was an eternal being who had an earthly beginning. So as a child, he was born to live with us in his humanity. As a son, he was given to die for us in his divinity. That's why there's nobody like Jesus. That's why I'm a follower of Jesus so I don't follow anybody else 'cause everybody else is just human. Take the greatest person you think ever lived outside of Jesus. Don't matter who it is. Just pick one. Moses, Abraham, Peter, Paul, James, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington. It doesn't matter, they're all just human. They're all just like us.

Jesus is different. In his humanity, he was just like us. But in his divinity, he was not just like us. And thank God he was not just like us because if he had just been a man, he could not have been our Savior, he could not have died on the cross for our sins, he certainly would not have come back from the dead, and we would be helpless in this life to be what God wants us to be and we'd be hopeless in the life to come to go where God wants us to go. So here's what happened at Christmas. He left heaven as God and came to earth as a human so we humans could leave earth and spend eternity with God in heaven.

That's exactly what happened at Christmas. There was a time that Jesus was not a man. Got it? There was a time Jesus was not a man. There was never a time, and there never will be a time when he is not God. However, since he came, since he died, and since he rose from the dead, there will never be a time he's not the God man. When we get to heaven and you see Jesus, who are you going to see? God, but not, yes, but not God only. Man? Yes, but not only, not man only. You're going to see the God man. Somebody that's like us, but not just like us. You're going to see one... you ready for this? You're going to see one that could walk and can, can walk through walls, you're going to see one that can walk on water, you're going to see one that can raise bodies from the dead, but he can eat fish and you can put a finger in a scar on his hand. He is the God man.

So we can relate to the humanity of Jesus because he's just like us, but we ought to rejoice in the divinity of Jesus because he's not just like us. But Isaiah is not finished. You could finish there and I just, well, that's kind of Christmas. Yeah, but there's always a part we leave out, and I think, I know that God said this to Isaiah, say, "You know, Isaiah, down the road, people will", even the best preachers of the world kind of, will leave this out and so I don't want you to leave this out. There's one other thing that we need to know that is that we can relate to the humanity of Jesus. He's just like us. We ought to rejoice in the divinity of Jesus because he's not just like us.

But then Isaiah says, "We must respond to the authority of Jesus". I want you to listen to what he goes on to say, watch this, "And the government will be on his shoulders". Now, what does that mean, the government will be on his shoulders? I mean, let me be honest. I'm not trying to get political, I'm just going to make a statement here. If I thought that the government that we had was on the shoulders of the president and the Congress, you know what I'd say? Would you just drop it? Just leave it alone. But Isaiah said the government is on his shoulders. So a prophet named Zechariah put it this way. He said, "The Lord will be king over the whole earth, and on that day there will be one Lord and his name the only name".

The government will be on his shoulders. He doesn't need a government, he is the government. So Isaiah, in verse 7, goes on to say this, "Of the greatness of his government", this is the second reason why government's so different. "Of the greatest of his government and peace, there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this".

Now, I want you to let that sink in for a moment. There will be no end to his government. And one day, that little child who left heaven and came to earth will come back from heaven to earth but it's going to be different. The first time he came to a cradle, the next time he'll come with a crown. The first time he was laid in a manger, the next time he will sit on the throne. And the next time he comes, every star in every constellation, in every galaxy and every angel that has their wings and every person who's ever truly received the Christ of Christmas will sing the Hallelujah chorus like it's never been sung before because the greatest gift ever given into this world was that little baby who was the child that was born and the son that was given.

Now, here's what we all have to decide. Number one, we got to decide, "Okay, so was and is Jesus who this prophet said he was and said he is? I mean, was he not just a child that was born? That part I get, but was he also the son that was given? And does he really deserve to be called Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God and Eternal Father and Prince of Peace"? Now, you may be listening and you may be saying, "Yeah, I think he does. I don't understand it all, I don't get it all, but yeah, I think... I don't thin... it's a mystery but it's not a myth. Yeah, I think I buy into the... yeah, I think I'm in".

Then the second question is, what are you going to do with Jesus? If you believe that he deserves those names and if you believe he is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, and Prince of Peace, the question is, since he has come for you, will you decide to come to him? 'Cause I remember as a 9-year-old boy opening up this box and this man stepped out, and his name was Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. And he walked out of that box and he walked into my heart and he radically, permanently, eternally changed my life. And what he did for me, he can do for you.
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