"The Greatest Act of Love"
What's in a name? In this case, the reason for the season. In this case, to help know the full picture. In this case, because the greatest act of love was found in the name "Jesus."
The Greatest Act of Love
A. A beautiful, fair-haired baby boy who was one of people who perished in the frigid Atlantic waters off Canada’s east coast on April 15, 1912 when the Titanic sunk. Unlike so many, his body was recovered by the crew of the Canadian recovery ship Mackay-Bennett. But no one knew who he was. They called him the “Unknown Child” and buried him with 120 others in graves in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The crew paid for the funeral, burying the baby in a tiny coffin at the top of a hill. His headstone reads simply: Unknown Child. He wasn’t the only one who was unknown. There were 43 in all. Unknown people whose names were a mystery.
B. Fast forward 95 years. Thanks to DNA technology–and a huge push from the producers of a PBS television –we now know his name. At first the wrong name was given for the unknown child, but as of August 2007 it was reported that a test on the child’s HVS1, a type of DNA molecule, did not match the Panula family. The original DNA testing was proved wrong and researchers identified the boy as a 19-month-old English child, Sidney Leslie Goodwin, who was traveling on the Titanic with his family to start a new life in America.
C. The tombstone has not been changed, but something has changed, we now know a name and the child is known to all who care to hear the story.
I. The Unknown Baby
A. Now go back in time over 2000 years. The ability to name your child is an awesome responsibility. The name can, in some ways, define the child. Joseph had found out that Mary was with child, knew that it wasn’t his child and he would not name that baby or claim it as his own. So he decided to put her away quietly. But our text told us that he an angel appear to him, to tell him what Mary probably already had said. And to tell him what to name the child.
B. But that child would not be name after Joseph or anyone in the family. Instead the child would be named Immanuel and would be known to the people as Jesus.
C. The world has changed, because that baby has a name. But on that first noel an angel appeared to some shepherds. The glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel spoke to them and happily said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
D. A baby had been born. This baby whom the angel called Savior, Christ and Lord was also given a name that was told back in the days of Isaiah – Immanuel. So what changed that night? The Unknown Child now has a name.
II. Call Him Immanuel
A. The name Immanuel comes from a prophesy given by Isaiah centuries earlier. (Read Is. 7:14). That name has a special meaning that Matthew wanted us to understand.
B. Matthew tells us that when translated, the name Immanuel means “God with us.” There was more to this birth than just some young girl and a manger scene. This was God in the flesh. This was heaven opening up its doors and coming down to man as a man.
C. Our God is with us when we celebrate the joy of birth of our children. God is with us when we look into the face of the hurting and offer a hand of help. God is with us when we generously support those who minister in foreign lands. God is with us when we gather as a church to worship and praise his name. God with us when we hold the hand of the one we love and experience the joys of marriage. God is with us when we bury that one we love. God is with us when our hearts suffer. God is with us.
D. When Jesus was ascending up into heaven and his disciples were about to miss his physical presence, we read our how he tells them, “And lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Our God is with us. Christmas is more than presents and poinsettias. It is a time when we should remind ourselves that God came to this earth as man, lived a perfect life, died for our sins, rose from the grave and is right now making intercession for us because his name is Immanuel which means God with us.
III. Give Him The Name Jesus
A. When that baby was born and those shepherds came into that manger scene they saw a baby wrapped in clothes. A baby. A little tiny, crying, helpless baby. But they knew this baby was so much more than what those physical eyes could see. They had all been told as much – Joseph, Mary, the shepherds. This was the Christ, a Savior of the world. They gave him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. The name Jesus means savior.
B. There is something about that name. For as I face my sin and the darkness of my soul I need a savior. As I understand my spiritual destiny of eternal damnation, I need a savior. When I come to an old rugged cross on a hill far away, I need more than a dead man, I need a risen savior.
A. The greatest act of Love was God coming to live on this earth, die for my sin, be raised so that I could live for ever with him. Paul states in Phil. 2:9-11. God have him the name Jesus. At the name of Jesus there will come a day when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. Because of that name we can proudly say, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come. Let earth receive her king.”
B. If we can help you to receive the King of kings and Lord of lords, then come as we stand and sing.