24 Dec 2023

Christmas Through Isaiah’s Eyes [Isaiah 7,9,11,53]


Christmas is about Jesus Christ. He is the Christ of Christmas, the real reason for the season. But who is Jesus? What did he do? Why is he the reason for the season? Let's take a look at Jesus through Isaiah's eyes. Isaiah wrote a lot about Jesus though he lived 700 years before Jesus. And in Isaiah 7,9,11 & 53, he shows to us that Jesus is. 1. The Special Son of God. 2. The Sovereign Son of God. 3. The Successful Son of God. 4. The Suffering Son of God. Tune in to the sermon to find out what this all means to you. May you receive the greatest Christmas gift of all!



Sermon Transcript

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All right, with all that cleared, I'd like to, on this Christmas Eve, just share a message about Christmas. And we always hear this song, Christmas, there's this jingle that goes, or song that goes, it is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it? I think Christmas is special to many people's hearts and minds.

For a little kid, Christmas is special because that's the time you anticipate receiving your Christmas present. When I was a child, my mom would always bluff me, she likes to lie to me. She would tell me to hang a sock at the foot of the bed and Santa Claus would come down, we don't have chimney, but he would somehow come into the house and pass me a present. And without fail, every year, I would have a sock hanging at the foot of my bed, and lo and behold, I get Christmas gifts. I thought it was Santa Claus.

Well, for some of us, Christmas is special because it is the time for sales. You get good deals, you buy a lot, you're a shopaholic and you enjoy Christmas. But for others, Christmas is a time for feasting, for gatherings, for parties, for getting together with friends. But for the Christian and for the church, Christmas is special because it's a reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ.

Now, to be clear, I don't think Jesus was born on the 25th of December. The Bible never says so, and moreover, December is a time where it's winter, and it's quite unlikely that the shepherds will be out there in wintertime. So we don't think this is the exact day, nevertheless, it's a reminder that Jesus is born or given to us in this world.

So for the church, for Christians, it is about Jesus. Christmas is about Christ, He's the reason for the season. The question then is, who is this Jesus? What's so special about Jesus? Why does the whole world celebrate Jesus Christ? Why do churches all over the world believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? What has He done? Well, we're going to learn about Jesus this morning. It's all about Jesus this sermon. It's not about what you need to do so much, but who Jesus is and what He has done.

And we're going to learn about Jesus from this one man named Isaiah. You say, who is Isaiah? Well, Isaiah is a prophet or a messenger of God who lived some 2,700 years ago, a long time ago. But he spoke a lot about Jesus in his book, the book of Isaiah.

Now, for the Christian, you may be familiar with what we call the Gospels. The Gospels are four books in the New Testament. New Testament is the part of the Bible written after Jesus came. So there are four books, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. These four books chronicle the life and times of Jesus Christ. We call them the Gospels. They speak a lot about Jesus. But there are people who say there's actually a fifth Gospel, a fifth book in the Bible that speaks also a lot about Jesus. And that fifth Gospel is not in the New Testament, but in the Old Testament, the portion of the Bible written before Jesus came into the world. And that book is the book of Isaiah.

So this morning, we're going to look at Christmas through Isaiah's eyes. Now, Isaiah wrote a lot about Jesus Christ. He may not know that that Person he's writing about is going to be named Jesus Christ, but he wrote about, a lot about this Person, this Savior, this Jesus. We're not going to be able to look at every verse in Isaiah about Jesus, but I have chosen just four passages.

Today's sermon will be short and sharp, just four passages, four verses or passages that would reveal who Jesus is. And I hope it will give you a deeper understanding, whether you are a Christian or you are someone new with us, we hope it's something that is light and yet satisfying for all today.

So the first passage I've chosen is a famous Christmas passage, Isaiah 7 and verse 14. You see this verse on Christmas cards, on walls, on posters, all over. For it says, "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His Name Immanuel." So very interesting, God said through Isaiah, there will be a special Someone. And that special Someone will be born of a virgin.

I think that's very special, because none of us here is born this way. But this special Child will be born of a virgin, and He will have this Name, Immanuel, which means God with us.

So Isaiah wrote this some 2,700 years ago, and for a long time, nothing happened. Until some 2,000 years ago, an angel appeared to this man called Joseph. And said to him, Joseph, the woman that you are engaged to, Mary, she's going to be with child. Joseph was kind of shocked, how can it be so? She must have had an affair with someone else. The angel said, no, no, no, she didn't. The Child she has in the womb is from the Holy Spirit.

And so, the angel said to Joseph, she will bear a Son, and you shall call His Name Jesus. The Name Jesus means God saves. For He will save His people from their sins. What is Jesus here to do? To give you money? To give you cure and healing from your sicknesses? No. The mission of Jesus is to save us from our sins. From our rebellion and transgression against God. To cleanse us of our sin debt against God. That man may now be reconciled with the Holy God. His Name is Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.

All this took place, Matthew wrote, to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, if I may add, Isaiah. Because he says, behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His Name Immanuel, which means God with us. Christmas is about Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ is that unique God-Man. God, the Son of God, born into this world as that unique God-Man, so that He is Immanuel and so that He will be Jesus, the God who saves us from our sins.

So we sing that song, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, and it goes, Offspring of a virgin's womb. Very unique and absolutely necessary, because only in this way is Jesus going to be sinless. He does not have the inherited sin or the sin nature from Adam. And this is, this is crucial in order for Him to be our Savior. So Offspring of a virgin's womb, veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel. To the ordinary man, Jesus looks like a poor little baby, but actually that is incarnate Deity veiled in flesh.

So who is Jesus Christ? Well, Isaiah, some 2,700 years ago, already said, He's going to be born of a virgin that He may be sinless, He's God with us, and He's Jesus, God who saves us from our sins.

Down one. We go to the second one. Also a very famous, popular verse during Christmas, and it's Isaiah 9. It says, "for to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given." So He will be a Son of a woman, "and the government shall be upon His shoulder" (Isaiah 9:6). So He will rule, He will reign, He will govern, He will be a King. And He will be given a very special Name. His Name is fourfold. He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, He's of infinite wisdom and knowledge, He's called the Mighty God. So He's not just, Jesus is not just the Son of God, but He's God the Son, He's God the very God.

There are people today who say Jesus is just a very special man. No, the Bible tells us He's God the very God. He's called the Mighty God. And the Bible says He is called the Everlasting Father. That means that He's going to be a King that is also very fatherly, very kind. He's the, He's the King who provides and protects like a father. Please do not confuse Jesus, the Son of God, as God the Father.

For those who are Christians, you know that we understand from the Bible there's a trinity in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit. We are not saying Jesus Christ is God the Father, but Jesus Christ, as King, is like a father, like an Everlasting Father.

And then He's called the Prince of Peace. He's the One who brings in peace and rules in peace. And how we need peace in a broken world today. We have wars and rumors of war. You, if you live in Gaza or Ukraine, you won't be very happy, you are longing for peace. But the Bible tells us when Jesus comes, His government, His rule, His reign will be one of peace, which is further elaborated in the subsequent verse here, "Of the increase of His government and of peace, there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom." (Isaiah 9:7) Now, why David? Because originally God, even before Isaiah, had already said to David, who is a king, that he will have a Descendant who will rule forever. So Jesus fits the bill. He's the descendant of David, He will sit on David's throne, He will be a king like David, but better than David, in that His reign and rule will be everlasting and be absolute, be in absolute peace and justice and righteousness.

So, Isaiah said all that 2,700 years ago. About 700 years later, there was this group of men. We do not know how many. We always sing three wise men, three wise men, but actually we do not know how many, but a plurality of wise men. These are the VIPs from the east of Israel. These are what they call Magi. Some people think that they are the king makers. They are the council who will determine the next king.

But these VIPs came all the way from the east, following a star to search after a little Child. They said, "where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star when it arose and have come to worship Him." (Matthew 2:2) So this is the original Star Trek. They followed the star and went all the way to look for this Child who is born. And this Child who is born is no ordinary child because they know that He's a King. And not just King, but God, because they say we have come to worship Him.

So, we sang that song earlier as well, What Child is This? And the songwriter goes on to say, this, this is Christ the King. The One who reigns, the One who will rule in justice and peace and righteousness forevermore. And He's the King of kings who will bring salvation to save us from our sins.

So, we know about Jesus from Isaiah when he told us about how He's born of a virgin. He will be God with us, and Matthew tells us He will save us from our sins. Isaiah then went on to tell us that Jesus will be King. He will be infinitely wise. He will be the Mighty God. He will be the One who will lead us into everlasting joy and peace.

And then the third passage, this is less familiar. So I may spend a little bit more time here. It says, "there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse." (Isaiah 11:1) So the imagery here is a tree that has been felled. It's been chopped and it seems as if there is no life. It's dead. But it is not exactly dead because later on there will come a shoot or a branch from the stem or from the stump.

Now this stem or this stump is called the stump of Jesse. Who is Jesse? Jesse is the father of David who is an ancestor of Jesus. So the idea here is from Jesse or from David's line, there will come a sprout or a sprig of life. And this branch from Jesse's stump or root will bear fruit. There will be life, there will be flourishing. And by now you should know that this shoot or this branch refers to Jesus.

So this background is interesting. Because at this time when Isaiah is writing Isaiah 11, Israel by and large is divided into two parts, northern Israel, southern Judah, but let's call them Israel together. They have been rebellious against God. And God has really dealt with them. They have been on a decline. And soon they will be absolutely obliterated by the Assyrians and the Babylonians' foreign powers who will invade them.

So it seems as if the nation is chopped off. The tree is felled. It seems gone, game over for Israel. But God says, no, even though I'm going to punish you soon and obliterate your nation, I'm not totally done with you because one day, seemingly no life, I will bring forth a shoot, a branch. And that shoot and branch will result in fruitfulness one day.

And he's talking about how God will preserve that promise made to their ancestors that from their seed, from their ancestry, from their offspring, there will come a Savior and His Name is Jesus. So Israel, you're going to be decimated, but there is hope for you in Jesus Christ. In fact, a glorious hope for you in Jesus Christ.

And in this context, it's even more interesting because just a verse before this, now for those of you who are new, you are lost already, you can sleep for a while. I'll wake you up in two minutes. This is for Christians who might be more interested. Just a verse before this in chapter 10 and verse 34, it speaks about Lebanon. In the Bible times, Lebanon is where Assyrians were. And God is saying in the earlier passage, He's going to destroy the Assyrians. Because the Assyrians have been arrogant and proud and haughty, huffing and puffing at Israel.

Now God is going to use Assyria to destroy Israel. But God will, after they have destroyed Israel, destroy Assyria. And Israel, or Assyria will be like that tree that is felled forever, gone, no more. But in contrast, Israel, though rebellious against God and will be dealt with, will retain a precious hope in Jesus Christ. So that's all the background, you can wake up now.

The point of it all, is that God is so good to the nation of Israel, and actually to all of us, in that He will always preserve the promise that He has made, that in that one Descendant shall all nations be blessed. Jesus is being referred to here, He's that shoot and that branch, and when He comes, He will judge the poor with righteousness. He will decide with equity for the meek of the earth, those who cannot fight for themselves or fend for themselves, Jesus will be their Lord and their Savior.

And when He comes, He's going to deal with rebellious sinners. The Bible says, "He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips, He shall kill the wicked." (Isaiah 11:4)

Just a segue. Many people think that God the Father is very fierce, and God the Son is very kind. So they like to read the New Testament because it's all about Jesus very kind, they don't like to read the Old Testament because it's always about God the Father very fierce. And when they pray, they don't dare to pray to God the Father because they think God the Father very fierce, they pray dear Jesus, dear Jesus all the time because they think Jesus very kind.

Actually it's an absolutely wrong caricature, it's a wrong theology, wrong understanding of God, because if you look at the Bible properly, yes, God the Father does warn and threaten with judgment, but at the same time, it is this same God the Father whom the Bible says, for God so loved the world, or God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, He sent His Son to die for us. It's the Father's heart.

And for us who think that Jesus is like that softie, always very nice and very kind, don't forget what this verse is saying, He will come and judge this world in fearsome wrath. And that's what you read in Revelation. So it's a wrong dichotomy to think that God the Father is fierce and God the Son is very kind as if they have different personalities as it were. No, they have the fullness and the perfection of all their attributes in unison. Different Persons, but perfectly holy and lovely and excellent.

So, Jesus will come, one day, we do not know exactly when, but the Bible here is speaking of a future day when Jesus will return a second time, He will rule and He will judge and He will punish. And when He comes into this world and reigns, the world will be totally different. For all of you animal lovers, this will be so exciting for you. Because it says, the wolf shall dwell with the lamb and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat. I don't see that today, not possible. You put the two of them together, sure die one. One of them will die. And the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together and a little child shall lead them. How nice, fairy tale alright, almost? A little kid walking with the lions and the leopards, whoa. Unheard of, unimaginable.

Some of you will pay $10,000 to go to Africa safari, see the leopard, must stay very far away. In that day, no need to pay, they are around you. And you'll play with them, totally safe. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together and the lion shall eat straw like the ox, jia chao. So everybody will jia chao, uh jia chao means eat grass. Because the lion will not eat the ox, absolute peace.

And in that day, so we kind of have a glimpse of it. Actually Isaiah tells us quite a bit about the new heavens, new earth. And there may be a hint that it will be not just one stage total transformation, but it's a staged thing. But maybe one day, as a church when we go through the book of Isaiah, then I'll talk about it more. But today Christmas, I know there are guests, cannot complicate too much, let's come back. "In that day, the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples of Him, shall the nations", not just the Jews, "the nations inquire and His resting place shall be glorious." (Isaiah 11:10)

Now I want to focus on just one thing here. And that is the word root. What's so special about the word root? I pause for a while, since today will be fast sermon, so, I'm going to ask you, I'm going to wait until someone tells me the right answer, how about that? What's so special about this word root here? The root of Jesse. Okay, the word root means origin, very good, it's correct. But what else?

If you had been observant earlier, listened earlier, you would see, hey, this is a bit strange. Ah, okay, if Jesus is born from Jesse's line, right, Jesse is the father of David, and after a few more, then you have Jesus. So if Jesus is the descendant of Jesse, how can Jesus be the origin of Jesse? That's correct. One more thing. Sorry? He's a part of Jesse? Support, ah okay, correct botanically speaking, uh, but not so much theologically speaking lah. It is correct. Your science is on the right track.

What's the purpose of roots? Give support to the plant. I did science with my son, so I know. All right, what is interesting is, actually, if you just read it, you say, yeah, nothing special, but if you remember verse 1, what does verse 1 say? Jesse is the root, and Jesus is the shoot and the branch. But in verse 10, Isaiah reversed it. Now, Jesus is the root. So like what Noah had actually said earlier, Jesus Himself said, I, Jesus, am the root, that's Isaiah 11:10, and the descendant, that's Isaiah 11:1, interesting.

And actually that's the question Jesus gave to the Pharisees, if David calls, if Jesus is the son of David, why does David call Jesus Lord? I mean I would never call Sean and Matthias, my two sons, Lord, that would be so wrong. But David calls Jesus, his human descendant, Lord, why? Because Jesus is both Man and God, fully Man, fully God. As God, Jesus is the Root and the Origin and the Creator of Jesse.

As man, He's the descendant of Jesse and David, and that's why the Bible says, I, Jesus, am the root and descendant of David. And so we come to Romans 15 verse 12, Paul saying, "the root of Jesse", that is who? Jesus. Isaiah 11:10, "will come, and even He who arises to rule the Gentiles," and in Jesus, in this root of Jesse, "will the Gentiles hope."

Who is Gentile? Gentile is anyone who is not a Jew. So by that definition, most, if not all of us, are Gentiles, and praise be to God, Jesus is given not just for the nation of Israel, not just for the Jews, but for you and I. Chinese, Filipino, Indian, doesn't matter. All nations, all Gentiles can hope in Jesus, trust in Jesus, that we may be saved from our sins.

So another song, O come, O come, Emmanuel, O come, O Branch of Jesse's stem, unto your own and rescue them. From depths of hell Your people save, and give them victory over the grave. So Christmas hymns do contain rich theology. Not many of you would understand the Branch of Jesse's teaching in Isaiah 11, but the songwriter does, and it's an appropriate Christmas reminder. So "there shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." (Isaiah 11:1) This is about Jesus.

The final passage I like to refer to may not be so Christmassy, but it's the most famous passage I think most of you would be familiar with, it's in Isaiah 53. But just to back up a little before Isaiah 53, we look at Isaiah 52, where it says, "Behold, my Servant shall act wisely, He shall be high and lifted up and shall be exalted." (Isaiah 52:13) So this speaks about Jesus. Jesus came to do the will of the Father, He came to serve God, He's called a Servant. But this Servant will be exalted and lifted high and be praised.

This speaks about His ascension, His kingship, His rule. But before He would rule, He would suffer big time. So the Bible goes on to say, "As many were astonished at You, His appearance was so marred beyond human semblance, and His form beyond that of the children of mankind." (Isaiah 52:14) He's going to be so disfigured, so tortured, so mangled, He's going to be a shock to anyone who sees Him.

And in Isaiah 53, we are told He was despised, He was rejected, He's a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, "and as One from whom men hide their faces, He was despised and we esteemed Him not." (Isaiah 53:3) So not a pretty picture at all. He's a conquering King, but before that He's a suffering Servant. But why? Why would He suffer? Is He impotent against the forces of evil? Is He so helpless that He has to suffer all this? No. He did all that willingly, lovingly, because He was there to bear our griefs and to carry our sorrows. We esteemed Him stricken, smitten, afflicted. Why? Because "He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities," for our sins. "Upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace and with His wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)

So this is the great teaching of the Bible. Jesus was there as our Substitute. He was there as our Sacrifice. Every punishment that is due for our sins was laid on Him and He suffered and paid it all for us. He was not there because He was weak. He was there because He was love. He was there to save you and I from our sins. That's why He's Emmanuel. That's why He's Jesus. That's why He's that Shoot or the Branch that will bear fruit because He's going to bring life and healing and blessing and salvation to all the Gentiles who would hope in Him.

And my friends, all we like sheep have gone astray. The Bible says all. We have turned everyone to our own way. There is none righteous, no not one, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. We all do not sin to the same degree or in the same patterns but we are all sinful before a Holy God. And the Bible makes it very clear that God is so holy there will be none who is unholy before His presence in the new heavens and new earth. And all wicked rebels will be sentenced to a place of hell for sufferings. But the Bible gives us this equally tremendous Good News that Jesus is the Lamb that bears our sins away.

The Christian message is not one where it tells you do better, try harder, earn your way to God. The Christian message is while you are yet sinners, God sent His Son to die and to pay for all your sins. The agony Jesus bore was not for His own sins, He had none, but for your sins and my sins. That is what Christmas is all about. It's not a box of toys at the foot of my bed. It's not some cheap Christmas sale. It's not some feasting and gathering, much as they are precious, but the ultimate Gift of God's Son, Jesus Christ, born into this world to save you and I from our sins.

Christmas is about a special Son. A Son who will be born into this world via a virgin's womb. A Son who will be called Emmanuel, who shall save us from our sins, a special Son. Christmas is about a sovereign Son, a Son who will be King, who will rule forever in perfect righteousness, justice, and peace, and they who believe in Him will one day reign with Him, and they who do not will be sentenced to everlasting torment.

Christmas is also about a successful Son. Yes, He will die, yes, He will suffer, but from this Branch and from this Shoot, there will be fruit, there will be flush with flourishing, there will be blessing upon those who believe in Him, and finally, this is a suffering Son. He was pierced, He was crushed for you and for me.

I hope this simple look at Jesus Christ through the eyes of Isaiah would also be the same way you will look at Christmas from today onwards. I hope you will learn about Jesus more, but I hope today you will believe in Jesus most of all. Let's bow for a word of prayer together.

The Bible tells us the wages of sin is death. When you work for sin, when you live in sin, you will suffer pain and darkness and separation from God, you will have death. So the wages of sin is death, but listen to this, the Bible goes on to say, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Yes, Christmas ultimately is about a Gift, a heavenly Gift when God sent His Son to be our Savior.

But I say to you, a gift is useless to you unless you receive it. The Bible calls and commands you therefore to repent of your sin and to believe in Jesus Christ. The Bible calls you today to obey God, to follow Jesus and you can do that because Jesus has died to pay for our sins. So would you today bow and humble yourself before this God? Would you believe that Jesus His Son has died and risen again to save us from our sins? I pray you will receive this gift of salvation. I pray that Christmas will be born in your heart today. It's a choice, it's a decision, it's a command from God that you have to act upon. Will you today turn from your sin and receive Jesus into your life? Would you believe in Him, would you follow Him?

I pray today also for our church. Yes, this is a simple Gospel message, but it's never really that simple, isn't it? Because each time we hear the love of God in Jesus Christ, I believe the Holy Spirit is always working in our hearts that we may know Him, know His love and love Him more. If God so loved you and gave His Son for you, how can we today not love Him? How can we today rebel against Him? How can we today drift from Him? Maybe this Christmas is an opportune time for you and for me as Christians, as followers, to say, Lord, forgive me my sins and grant me grace to love You more and to serve You.

For those who are going through hardship, I pray you will take hope, take joy in that promise found in Isaiah, one day Jesus will usher in a new heaven, a new earth where there will be no more tears and no more sorrow, where there will be everlasting joy and peace and judgment and righteousness. Ah, we do not live for the here and now. People may go, health may diminish, life may be difficult, but there's always a glorious bright light at the end of the tunnel.

At the end of time as we know it, we will be ushered into a glorious, perfect, blissful, God-centered eternity. And that, I pray my friends, will energise you and encourage you for life's journey till Jesus comes.

We would soon sing that song, Joy to the World. It's a Christmas hymn, but really it is about not the first coming of Jesus, but the Second Coming. But nevertheless, on this Christmas day or Christmas Eve, as we remember the birth of Jesus, we look forward to His return. And may we all respond to Him correctly today. So Father, thank You for this time. Bless each one. May men and women turn from sin to believe in Your Son. May we love You more. May we serve You. May we endure well for Your glory. Thank You, we pray all this in Jesus' Name. Amen.


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