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ONEFamily Outreach exists to "Connect Kids to Community and Communities to Kids." Have you considered having a mission week for your church? This is one of my favorite "in-depth" ways of reaching out with the Great News of Jesus Christ. Activities can include:

  • Interactive and participative praise concerts for children, youth, and families;
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“Awake from your stupor!”

Matthew 1:18-25

Christmas Eve A

Matthew 1:18-25

[Mt 1:18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. [19] And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.

[20] But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. [21] “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
[22] Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: [23] “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

[24] And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, [25] but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus. (NAS)

Matthew 1:18-19

 [Mt 1:18] Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. [19] And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.  [NASB]

The Family Tree

In Verses 1-17, Matthew deals with Jesus’ legal right to be called by the Jewish term, Messiah.  He was a descendant of David and a descendant of Abraham (Luke takes our Lord’s genealogy all the way back to Adam showing how Jesus was linked to humankind and not just the Jewish people).

In 18-25, Matthew goes on to establish Jesus’ prophetic right to the role of the Christ, the Anointed One.  Matthew affirms Isaiah’s prophecy in front of King Ahaz in Isaiah 7:14; “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Matthew testifies that “the Christ” is the Son of God – which Daniel also refers to as the “Son of Man [Daniel 7:13].”  Likewise, this chapter reveals how Jesus was like us in all ways except sin.

2 Corinthians 5:21

[2Co 5:21] He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

  This raises the concept of “Original Sin” – the idea that all are born in sin because of the Original Sin of Adam and Eve.  In other words, sin is become so prevalent in the world that it is unavoidable.  We are unable to escape the endemic nature of sin through any work of our own. We are born into a sinful world and we are a sinning people.  Alternatively, because Jesus was not born of man, he did not have the stain of original sin in his life.

The overarching themes of Matthew’s Gospel were:

  • To reveal to Jewish believers that Jesus was the long-awaited, biblical Messiah.  To this end, Matthew consistently tells us that Christ differed from man and yet became like us.  Jesus was God incarnate and God-made-man.  Our Messiah was not a distant deity who reviled or neglected his distant creation.  Jesus was Immanuel; God among us.
  • In addition, Matthew seeks to reveal that the messianic kingdom would not be fully realized in Jesus’ day.  It is likely the Gospel was written after the first dispersion of the Jewish Christians under the persecution of Herod Agrippa I in A.D. 44 (Ac 12:1-7), yet it was probably penned before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 (because Matthew gives no hint that Jerusalem that was in ruins). So Matthew tells us that we must await Christ’s glorious return but that Jesus the Messiah still reigns in full authority over the earth as he commissions us to make new disciples around the world.

So these are the “bookends” of Matthew’s Gospel: The Messiah has come and the Messiah will return.  Unless we understand these two bookends, we cannot understand the rest of Matthew’s writing in its fullness.  He tells us how the world prepared for the Messiah’s birth and how we are to prepare for his return.  His message of “preparation” is the theme of our advent; are we a people prepared for the Lord’s return?  Are we completing his commission?  Are we taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth?  Are we good news to the poor?

Here, in the very beginning of his book, Matthew wants to help us understand a magnificent mystery. The infinite God would send his only begotten Son to take on our body (“incarnate” literally means the “in the meat” or “in the carcass” of a human being) and die among us. 

It would be easy to get caught in the practicability of Matthew’s birth scene; but we must not.  We must become awed by the impracticality of this mystery. That our great and magnificent God would bend from heaven to place his son into the most vulnerable arms that He could find in order to be “God among us.”  In turn, we are also challenged – for the richness of the Gospel is this – we are also supposed to choose vulnerability as our methodology of sharing the good news.  We too are supposed to place ourselves as vulnerable among the vulnerable.

1 Corinthians 9:22

To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.

The Virginal Birth

Over the years, there has been quite an emphasis to downplay the mystery of Mary’s virginal birth.  The crux of these theories is rooted in the Hebrew word “Virgin (Almah).”  This term is not a medical term but a normal way to refer to any woman of child-bearing age who was still under the protection of her parents.  In addition (it has been argued) that if Jesus “knew” of his exceptional birth than he would have been fundamentally different from us. Here’s the reasoning; “How could he be like us in all ways if he knew from the start that he was different from man even at birth.” 

The argument is that this would make him sort of a flawed savior, because he wouldn’t have lived his life experiencing our doubts.

However, which would be harder for a young man to believe? 

  • “My mother was impregnated before marriage by a Roman soldier (the modern belief).”
  • “My mother was impregnated before marriage by the Holy Spirit.”

Jesus would have to confront these doubts very early in his life, for what Nazarene would not remember Mary’s situation?  Children can be brutally honest and what child in that village wouldn’t have been tempted to tease the child Jesus over the story of his birth?  I can scarcely imagine the pain of growing up under such a cloud; for using either explanation would cause our Lord to experience the continual rejection and ridicule of his elders and peers. 
Rather than to make our Lord less sensitive to our lives, the circumstances of his birth would have made him even more perceptive to the plight of the outcast. The constant rejection and teasing would have deeply shaped his character and become part of the harsh “education” of the Lamb of God.

In the end, I find myself embracing the story of the virginal birth not out of “practicability” but out of reverence for the wisdom of God.  Scholarly pursuit is commendable in due season but in the end, scripture must be accepted by faith in God’s mystery. 

The Holy Spirit revealed the virgin birth to Luke from Mary’s perspective [Luke 1:26-38] and to Matthew from Joseph’s perspective.  There are many concepts in the bible that will remain a mystery that we can only by faith and, upon which, we can only speculate until the time of revelation.  Debate about such issues can only be based upon conjecture and only serves to distract from the heart of the Gospel.  The primary focus should instead be on the word Immanuel – that, on that day, God came “among us” and ever sense that day we must take God “among others” (again the “bookends” of Matthew’s Gospel).

Some theologians would discredit the virginal birth because neither Mark nor John refers to the event in their Gospels; but those authors do not even deal with the birth of Jesus.  To Paul, John, and Mark – who relies primarily upon Peter’s preaching for his text – the Gospel message deals with the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ:

1 Corinthians 15:1-8

[1] Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, [2] by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. [3] For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, [4] and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, [5] and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

[6] After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; [7] then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; [8] and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. (NAS)

Satan would love to deter us from the greatest news by dividing us over concepts that the human mind cannot comprehend and how could we ever understand the mystery of God’s incredible love? 

Unfortunately far too many theologians have devoted years to such distractions.  The rest of us must be doing the real work of the Gospel: To tell those unloved and lost the mystery of how such a great God wants to “move in with them.”

Yet, how can they can know the Great News unless we move in among them?  We live out the story that our God is so great that He came among us and continues to come among us, entering into even our most dire situations.  No place is too dark for God to find us and so – looking through the lens of Matthew’s Gospel – should there be any place too dark for us to go and take God to others?

…planned to send her away secretly

Mary’s life teetered in Joseph’s hands.  He could have her killed yet, out of compassion, he was secretly contemplating divorcing her and sending her away.  Mary would be allowed to live – but her life would be ruined.  If Mary had an illegitimate child and remained in Nazareth, her situation would be dire. Most young ladies in this state would be rejected by their families and forced to flee for their lives.  Some would wind up prostitutes for the Roman cohorts in cities throughout Israel or selling themselves as slaves to the wealthy. Many would be taken to the edge of town and stoned – by their own religious community.

I wonder how Mary would fare in our churches today.  If we heard her story, would we believe her?  Would she be rooted out by the religious and unwelcome as a bad influence on the other kids?  Teenage mothers have certainly not diminished per capita in our society since Mary’s time – but they continue to disappear from our churches.

Sometime last June; I remember speaking with a young prostitute and meth addict in our own County jail.  We had spoken on other occasions and, as her release date approached, I encouraged her to let me help her find a church.  She laughed spontaneously and said; “No thanks, I’ve had enough judgment already!”

Frankly, it was difficult for me to deny that – if most church members knew of her past – they would not openly welcome her into their homes.  Would Mary find acceptance in the warmth of our churches or would she be driven out by cold stares and harsh comments?  Would she be welcomed into our homes or talked about at our tea parties?  Would we let her illegitimate child, Jesus, play with our church kids?

We must remember that it was God’s design for the life of our Savior to hang in the balance of a teenager’s womb on that day. It should remind us just how desperately we need the protecting arms of someone like Joseph in our communities today.  Will we be like Joseph to the vulnerable Jesus in our town?

Word Search

  • Betrothed [3423, Mnesteuo]; this is a revealing term that should provide great insight about the status of a woman in the Middle East.  The term, Mnesteuo, means to be “given as a souvenir!”

A woman was betrothed to a man for a year (although the match would have likely been made while the girl was just a child).  The betrothal itself was a binding obligation in which a man paid the woman’s dowry and then spent a year preparing her house.  A woman who separated from her fiancé during their betrothal would be considered divorced.  Her position in Jewish life would hang in a strange limbo – for the status of a woman was exclusively defined by her relationship with a man. A woman divorced because of adultery would be in imminent physical danger; the religious congregation and leaders could actually choose to have her stoned for her behavior.

  • Holy Ghost [40, Hagios; 4151, Pneuma]; this word could be defined as the “Sacred Breath.”  The word for sacred (hagios), not only means “set apart” (as when it is used for saint), but it can also mean “horrible” and “awful.” Breath (pneuma) is most awful in its absence – this is an inherent truth about the Holy Spirit. There is death without its presence.
  • Husband [435, Aner]; A woman was considered a man’s property – even before she was married to him.  Female children were often used to cement a family’s business, property, or political ties.  In early childhood, a female would be committed to a man who might be as old as his forties. Normally the groom would be in his twenties and would wait until his thirties before they marry.  When the girl was around fourteen, they would marry (by that time the male might be in his mid-thirties) and only then would she live with him.

Unfortunately, this left many women widowed and vulnerable in Jesus’ time because the average life span of a man was much shorter than ours today.  Once a woman was widowed, she was dependent on a brother-in-law or a scribe to distribute her funds to her. She was not allowed to possess and property save the headdress with coins that was part of her dowry.  This led to a horrible abuse of widows in Christ’s time.

  • To send (put) her away [630, Apoluo]; the word, apoluo, means divorce.  A woman who was betrothed was treated in all legal ways as if she was married (however, the couple had no sexual relations and the girl remained with her parents).

Divorce was the least cruel option for Mary.  Joseph had the legal right to ask that she be stoned. Many of the religious leaders would argue that such judgment was necessary to preserve the sanctity of the community (see the story of the woman caught in adultery [Jn 8:1-11]).  Literally Mary’s life was in Joseph’s hands – just as the woman in Jerusalem was in our Lord’s hands – the irony of the two stories is truly compelling.  Certainly, there were others in the village that would not appreciate the compassion of Joseph.  Instead, they would have loved to make a public example of this “sinner.” 
In many cases, the father of the betrothed might even consider stoning his own daughter to save face for himself in front of the community. Mary’s life truly hung in the balance as Joseph contemplated what action he should take.

Matthew 1:20-21

[20] But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. [21] “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The Lord appeared to him in a dream…

Imagine poor Joseph, all he wanted was the quiet, country life of a decent carpenter: His fiancé becomes pregnant and he can hardly sleep without angels interrupting his dreams. Then he is forced to Bethlehem with a pregnant wife and further on to Egypt with King Herod at his heels.  Once Joseph accepted Jesus into his life – in a very literal sense – everything changed for the quiet carpenter.

I think this is indicative of how God works in each of our lives.  He calls us from the mundane and into the momentous – so that even our dreams are filled with “Holy Interruptions.”  When we move from our comfort zone to God’s Holy Zone; our lives are no longer in our possession. Our lives don’t become easier, but they do become more meaningful.  Like Joseph, I must be ready for “Holy (and horrible – hagios) Interruptions” if the Christ-child is to stay in my home.

In fact, I must constantly remind myself that what I often see as an interruption is really God communicating with me for my good and the good of his Kingdom (the two items are inseparable).  They are God’s way of putting his agenda into my date book. These interruptions – although as inconvenient as Joseph’s dream – are filled with holy potential.  I just pray that God finds my heart willing to both hear Him and respond obediently.

An important question that we must always ask is; “What if Joseph’s career-path was too set for Mary’s intrusion?”
Unfortunately, this is what most of our lives look like to God. We are too engrossed in the mundane to be available for the miraculous. Let us pray that God will bless our days with Holy Interruptions that we might be made aware of his presence in his most vulnerable form.

And He shall be called...

God’s begotten was given two earthly names: “Jesus” (1:21) and “Immanuel” (1:23). The first name, “Jesus,” revealed his purpose; “Our God saves.” The second, “Immanuel,” revealed his role; “God is with us.”

The wealth of our Lord’s title is steeped in tradition. Jehoshua; “Our God saves.” 

There were three others in the Old Testament that bore the same name (in Hebrew) as Jesus. The work of their lives points toward the fullness of Christ:

  • Joshua crossed the river, Jordan, taking his people from slavery into freedom.  Jesus crosses the void of sin into God’s new covenant. 
  • Jehoshua helped Nehemiah repair the broken lives of the faithful. Jesus repairs our brokenness. 
  • A second Jehoshua explained the word to a people who were without learning or understanding. Our Jesus became the “Living Word,” his life reveals God’s purposes.

Savior, leader, rebuilder, and living example – he is all these things to the one who lets him into their heart and their life.  The call of Joseph was, “Awaken and take responsibility.” Now our call is; “Awaken, rise from obscurity, the Savior is among you, go, bring God to His people.”

Word Search

  • Angel. [32, Aggelos]: Someone who brings forth [71, Ago] a driving message [34, Agele].  Usually used of the heavenly beings and sometimes of a shepherd (when he was leading the flock to the spring pastures).  This particular angel was sent by the Lord [2962, Kurios] the “Supreme Commander.”
  • Appeared unto him in a dream [5316, Phaino]; to “appear” was to shine brightly and be seen.  It comes from the term “Phos” [GSN5457] as inphosphorous.  Joseph was frozen by his inability to make a decision.  Finally, the angel stunned Joseph with his blinding presence. Joseph was immediately “illuminated” about Mary’s blessed condition and his responsibility to care for her and the baby.
  • Fear not [5399, Phobeo, 3361, Me]; this phrase would be like saying, “God forbid that you do not wed Mary,” but it would have even graver emphasis.  This word for fear implies “reverence” (as in the fear of the Lord).  It is the basis for our word, phobia – a fear that incapacitates.  Much more than “fear not,” this passage would imply; “Stand up and accept your responsibility, Joseph!  You should be awed by this young woman and what God has done with her!”  It is as if the angel were stating to Joseph; “What are you debating, lowly man.  You should be honored to be with this young woman!”
  • Of the Holy Spirit [1537, Ek]; the language here is much richer than just the statement; “of the Holy Ghost.”  There is a sense of forcefulness or proclamation to the Angel’s announcement: “This amazing woman is bringing forth the only son of God.  This is the most amazing event in history – don’t  you dare walk away!”
  • Jesus [2424, Iesous]; Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Jehoshua, Joshua or Jeshua.  The word Jesus means the “Lord-Savior” or “Jehovah saves.”  It is interesting to compare the qualities of Jesus with the history of his name.
    • There was Joshua, the successor of Moses and his greatest Captain.  He crossed into Canaan and saw how God’s power could redeem the land.  Moses didn’t listen to Joshua and – as a result – he too could not enter the Promised Land.  God gave that privilege to the faithful Joshua.  Jesus leads us into a land of promise. Jesus is our God’s greatest Captain. 
    • Jehoshua helped Nehemiah rebuild the wall of the devastated temple [Nehemiah 10:9].  Jesus is able to rebuild the temple of the Holy Spirit in your life; he is the temple of God.
    • Another Jehoshua, helped explain the law to the people after Ezra preached all day at the rededication of the temple.  Our Jesus is the Living Word; he is the promise of God brought back to life.  He offered himself in such a way that all who listen and obey him can know God.

Jesus is the deliverer, he is the rebuilder, and he is the Word exemplified!  Similarly, we – as followers – must adopt these traits if we are to call ourselves disciples. Am I delivering the captive, rebuilding the torn walls, or living in such a way that others see the Word revealed in me?

  • Sin [264, hamartano]; the root word for sin (amart- hamart-); means to miss the mark, to be off course.  We have discussed the concept of sin before – it is a “way of living” rather than simply an “action.”  Writing to Timothy, Paul illustrates the “ways” of a sinner:

    2 Titus 3:2 

    [2Ti 3:2] For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, [3] unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, [4] traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, [5] having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! [6] For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, [7] always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NAS)

Just as living in the Holy Spirit has fruits; living in sin has fruits too.  The acts of sin are but an indication of the way of the sinful – the way a life is being slowly directed away from God.  An arrow doesn’t have to be but a quarter-inch off at the beginning to wildly miss a mark that is as close as just a few meters.  This is the “way of sin.”

Matthew 1:22-23

[22] Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: [23] “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”

The Covenant of God

The covenant of God, his spoken contract and promise to us was paid in full with the life of his son, Jesus Christ.  “Fulfill” and “spoken” mean enacted, accomplished, a “done deal” or “filled full”!  God’s signature was not meant to be written just on papyrus. his “Word” moved beyond head knowledge and into my city.  The word became flesh: A person, a life, Immanuel.

All of God’s words are living words – mountains, streams, animals, the mud of man and the promise of freedom.  His words are not an empty utterance; they are breathed (through the Holy Spirit) into life.

God wants his promise to be more than a head game or mindless rituals.  He wants it to be ignited in the calloused palms and personal relationships of human life.  We are to become a living testimony of God’s love.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3

[2] You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; [3] being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts. (NAS)

Is my life a living letter of God’s covenant?  At the end of the day, will more people know that God has covenanted with them (not just contracted – which is null and void if one party fails)?  Will the outcast know – because of my actions – that God has sealed his love for them in the blood of his son?  If not, what on earth am I doing? Our singular focus is to bring the great multitude before the loving Savior:

Revelation 7:9-10

[9] After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and {all} tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches {were} in their hands; [10] and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (NAS)

Am I bringing people from all nations, all tribes and peoples and tongues to praise our God in a loud voice?  Is that my daily quest?  For that matter, will I even bring my neighbor or the person who works in the next office cubicle or suffers in a rest home, detention center, or jail in my own community?  If not, I need to change everything now and make my life a living testimony to his sealed covenant of unparalleled love.

He became our Immanuel (God among us); now we must become their Immanuel (God among them).

Matthew 28:18-20 

[Mt 28:18] And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. [19] “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (NAS)

Are we fulfilling the pledge, the commission handed on to all followers to go to all nations?  In fact, the commission is even more pointed than that!  The word “nations [GSN1484 ethnos]” actually meant ethnic groups; in fact it literally meant “go to the pagans.”  Often, we Christians can offer a “sign of peace” to the person in the pew next to us, but how am we about taking Christ’s love to the “pagans” of my community – to those who are least like me?  That is our commission – am I doing my part?

Spoken [2980, Laleo; from Lalos (talkative); to talk]: When the Lord speaks, directly or through a prophet, the word means not just to “say something” but to proclaim it; to “shout it out.”  Another use of this word is even more significant, the Word of God was not just said; it was made.  What God states becomes living truth.

Another insightful word used for “spoken” [1096. ginomai], means to come into being, to become, or to be accomplished. Salvation became a living being.  The covenant was Jesus and now – through the Holy Spirit – we have become the covenant!

The simplest way to define Immanuel [Isaiah 7:10-15] is: “He showed God to us.” 

Often, translations will use just the term; “God is with us,” (which is also accurate for, in Jesus, God was present among us and through the Holy Spirit, God is present in us).  However, we are called to live in such a way that others are prompted to say; “I feel the presence of God when he/she is with me.”

The beauty of this term is the realization that God is not evident in our perfection – but in our compassion.  The sinner saved is a much greater testimony to God than the person who lived such a comfortable life that they never ventured beyond the false comforts of this world.  Immanuel is present in me whenever I bring God to the direst situation in my community.  Where do I need to be Immanuel today?

Matthew 1:24-25

[24] And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, [25] but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called his name Jesus.

Waking from a stupor

Sometimes we have to be woken up – even shaken up – to push us into action.  The Lord uses so many means to “wake us up.” The angel had to “wake up” Joseph from a spiritual stupor lest he sleep away his opportunity to be a player in God’s plan. Joseph had to be moved beyond his wishy-washiness and into a life of responsibility.

Joseph was between a rock and a hard place.  He pitied Mary – but he didn’t see her as “his problem” – he couldn’t see how she “fit” into his life. It was all too inconvenient and unconventional. 

What will it take to shake us up from our wishy-washiness; to become the awakened and responsible Joseph’s of our own communities?  How have we played the role of Joseph needing to be “slapped from our stupor” – not wanting to take on our God-ordained responsibilities to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God?” 

How do we play the role of the Aggelos (the messenger with great news) to those who need to be embraced in the midst of their vulnerability?  How can we move our faith from singing Immanuel, “God with us,” to being Immanuel, “God with them?”

Word Study

  • Fulfill [4137, Pleroo, from 4134, Pleres]: The simplest translation of this word would be to “fill full.” The term means to make full or to bring to completion, even to accomplish a purpose or to fully meet the obligations of an agreement.  The birth of Jesus is the Pleroo – the fulfillment – of the Old Testament covenant to mankind.  We are to be the “fill-full-ers” of the commission of Christ to the world.
  • Awoke from his sleep [1453, Egeiro, 5258, Hupnos]: We often see this term in the writings of Matthew and Paul.  It means to shake someone from a stupor or to call someone out of obscurity and into greatness.  The angel’s words literally smote Joseph into action. 

Perhaps, Joseph was frozen from the stupor of indecisiveness – that cheerless state where someone avoids making an important decision in the hopes that the problem will go away.  In that state, the longer we procrastinate, the more we just lose the ability to influence the outcome. The angel was waking Joseph up to the fact that he needed to act and he needed to do it soon.  The longer he waited, the more he would lose control over the outcome.

Will we give God “permission” to wake us from our stupor, to slap us out of our obscurity and into a life that is meaningful to Him?  This is our time, this is our place; are we ready to embrace our responsibilities?  Are we ready to carry on the title “Immanuel” and become “God with them?”

About the Author

Jerry Goebel is a community organizer who started ONEFamily Outreach in response to gang violence and youth alienation in a rural community in Southeastern Washington. Since that time, Jerry has worked with communities around the globe to break the systemic hold of poverty by enhancing the strengths of the poor.

A primary philosophy of ONEFamily Outreach is to teach; “poverty is a lack of healthy relationships.” And, a primary focus of ONEFamily Outreach has been to break down the barriers of poverty through creating “cultures of intentional courtesy.”

As well as having developed ongoing mentoring outreaches in his own community, Jerry travels extensively to work with church leaders, community governments, and educators.

Jerry has received five popular music awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers, a Best Educational Video Award from the National Catholic Education Association, and a lifetime achievement award from the National Federation for Catholic Youth Ministry for living Gospel Values.

To contact or book Jerry for a presentation in your area write or call:

Jerry Goebel
ONEFamily Outreach
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Copyright © 2007 Jerry Goebel. All Rights Reserved.  This study may be freely distributed, as long as it bears the following attribution: Source: Jerry Goebel: 2007 ©

Scripture Quotations noted from NASB are from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD VERSION of the bible. Copyright © The Lockman Foundation 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995. Used by permission. (

The New Testament Greek Lexicon based on Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary plus others; this is keyed to the large Kittel and the “Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.” These files are public domain.

The Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon is Brown, Driver, Briggs, Gesenius Lexicon; this is keyed to the “Theological Word Book of the Old Testament.” These files are considered public domain.

NAS Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries. Copyright © 1981, 1998 by The Lockman Foundation. All rights reserved. (

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