Supernatural, Yet Natural
December 24, 2000 | Andrew Davis
The Exaltation of Everyday Life
A mixing together of ordinary everyday things that all of us would experience with supernatural things that none of us have experienced. That really is the essence of incarnation, isn’t it? It is Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. We know the flesh part: he came to help us understand the God part that we might understand deity in human flesh. He came to exalt everyday life. We have with Jesus Christ an example, don’t we? He is our example.
Christ, Our Example
For 30 and some odd years, maybe 33 years, he walked on earth. He did not need to do that in order to shed his blood, to give us an atoning sacrifice, he could have been on the earth for one day and shed his blood and we would have had forgiveness of sins. But he came for more reasons than just give us forgiveness of sins that we might also have an example and that he might walk ahead of us and be our example.
Jesus claimed to be our example in John 13. Jesus washed his disciples’ feet. And you remember when he finished washing the disciples’ feet, he put on his robe and sat down in his place and he said to them, “I have given you an example. As I have done for you so you should do for one another.” So, he claimed to be our example.
The apostles declared that Christ is our example. First Peter 2:21, says, “To this, you were called because Christ suffered for you, giving you an example that you should follow in his steps.” And that phrase, “in his steps,” became very famous. What would Jesus do? Sheldon’s novel, In His Steps, because Jesus gave us an example in everyday life.
The Apostle Paul claimed to be following that example. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, he said, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.” And then in Philippians 2, he wrote, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” In other words, however, Christ would have thought about certain things, we should also have that same mind as was in Christ.
The Apostle John pushed it right to the extreme when he said that imitation of Christ in this world is required in order to be sure that you’re a Christian. He said in 1 John 2:5-6, “This is how we know that we are in him. Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus walked.” We must follow in his footsteps. We must follow his example.
Supernatural, Yet Natural
Now, his life as an example, his life in the flesh began as a baby in Bethlehem, and that is what we are going to look at today in Luke 2. He could have come as a grown man, but he came as a baby, just as we all do, entering the world the same way we do. And Luke 2 gives us a beautiful picture of the beginning of Christ’s life as an example. We have this blending of the supernatural with the natural, and I want you to draw this out and culminate it in the word Emmanuel so that we understand what that means.
My goals today are to highlight the narrative. We are just going to go through it. We are going to draw out those aspects that are natural and those that are supernatural, and then we are going to talk about Emmanuel.
I want to challenge you to marvel at Emmanuel. I want you to meditate on the idea of Emmanuel, and then I want you to make the Emmanuel principle in person, central in your lives, so that when January 2nd or 3rd rolls around, you will know that there is Christ with you, in you, the hope of glory, to elevate your everyday life and make it what he intends it to be.
The Narrative (Luke 2:1-20)
Let us read the narrative together, let’s look along and then we’ll take a look more closely at it. Chapter 2, verse 1:
“In those days, Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria, and everyone went to his own town to register.
So, Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth and Galilee to Judea to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shown around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, I bring you good news of a 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. This will be a sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’
“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.’
So, they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told to them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
The shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”
The narrative breaks into four sections. First, in verses 1-3, we have the decree. In verses 4-7, we have the birth. In verses 8-16, the shepherds, the angels, and the Christ. And in verses 17-20, the reactions.
The Decree (Luke 2:1-3)
First, let us look at the decree, and in this decree, we see that Christ’s birth is rooted in world history. What could be more natural than the unfolding of world history? We are in the midst of it right now. We look around and see events taking place. Christianity is a historical religion; I’ve told you that before. And this historian, Luke, was careful to root Jesus’ birth and connect it with events that were occurring at the time. God saw to it that these people who are mentioned that there would be a continuing history of them so that we would understand exactly when Jesus was born and that his birth was rooted in history.
Date of Christ’s Birth
Caesar Augustus decreed that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. This helps us to fix the date of Christ’s birth. In Matthew 2, King Herod the Great issued a decree that all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity be killed because of the threat that he felt that Christ was born. King Herod died in 4 BC. The decree therefore must have been issued just before that, so Jesus was born 4 or 5 BC.
It says that the census was carried out in Jesus’ area, in the area of Palestine when Quirinius was governor of Syria. Now, critics of this account say the Quirinius ordered a census to be taken in 6 or 7 AD, which is way too late for the birth of Christ, and they accused Luke of making a mistake. Do not believe it. You know by now, listening to me, I do not think there are any mistakes in the Bible.
I think there are two ways of dealing with this. First is that historical records show it is quite possible that Quirinius was governor twice, earlier before 4, 5, 6 BC there’s an indication and record that Quirinius was a co-governor along with another established by Rome.
But I think an even better way of understanding this is just a simple translation issue. If you look down in Luke 2:2, a better way to translate this would be this, “This census was the one before the one taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.” That census was taken when Quirinius was Governor of Syria was very well known. Luke refers to it in the Book of Acts, he knew about it. He is saying that there was actually an earlier census taken, and it was in regard to that census that Joseph moved out from Nazareth.
Historical Circumstances of Christ’s Birth
Now, these are the historical circumstances of Christ’s birth: Caesar Augustus was emperor of Rome. Rome was the most powerful empire in the world. We have been learning in the Book of Daniel, it was the fourth empire seen in the vision of Daniel, in Daniel 2.
At this point, the emperor, Caesar Augustus, had the whole Roman world at peace. It was not a true peace, it was what they called the Pax Romana, the Roman Peace. It was a peace based on intimidation and fear. There are many in Palestine that would love to have risen up against Rome and overthrown them if they could, but they knew that they would never be able to defeat them, and so they remained at peace. It was not a peace of the heart, but it was a peace of the circumstances. This emperor was perhaps the greatest that Rome had ever seen or ever would see. He centralized the government that included the Roman Senate in such a way that they felt included. The arms of the Roman government were at peace with one another, and it was a time of incredible prosperity and the expansion of the Roman Empire. There was an absence of strife, and prosperity for the Roman people. There was peace along the borders, very few wars being fought.
This had some benefits for Christianity as well. It was during this time that many of the Roman roads were built, and it was a safe cradle or a safe time for Jesus to be raised after he was born. But the historian, Epictetus, who lived at that time spoke of this Pax Romana, this Roman Peace. He said, “While the emperor may give peace from war on land and sea, he is unable to give peace from passion, grief and envy. He cannot give peace of heart, for which man yearns even more than outward peace.” Isn’t that true?
Caesar Augustus was a great political leader, but he could not transform the heart. I believe that God is in the business of contrasting his rulership with that of powerful earthly leaders. We are going to see it with Nebuchadnezzar in the Book of Daniel. But here is this Caesar Augustus, the divine Augustus, and his earthly peace can only carry man so far. There is to be a Prince of Peace, and he was born in obscurity, while the emperor gave a mighty decree that a census be taken of his whole Roman world.
Joseph and Mary
That decree affected the lives of two simple Jewish people: Joseph and Mary. This shows that Christ’s birth was not only rooted in world history, but it was also rooted in personal struggle. Joseph and Mary, their whole world was thrown into upheaval by the announcements of the angels that each visited them. Gabriel visited Joseph and he visited Mary and gave announcements that would change their lives. And so, they got up as a result of this decree, and as a result of the fact that she was carrying the Christ child and they traveled the 75 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Can you imagine? The Scripture says in the King James Version that she was “great with child.” You always see the pictures of Mary riding on a donkey, any of you women who have been expecting, didn’t that cause you to cringe? How in the world could you ride on a donkey being “great with child”? Now, in Scripture’s defense, there is no mention of a donkey, but she may well have traveled on a donkey.
But why in the world did she make this visit? Joseph made the visit because he had to. The decree said so, and he had to go to his hometown to register. But why did marry attend? According to law, there is no reason that she needed to be there. Well, I think there is perhaps a human reason, and then there is the divine reason. Humanly speaking, Joseph did not want to leave Mary alone. And why was that? It was because of the shame factor. We realize that people know how to count nine months, and they know when Joseph and Mary got married. Joseph himself was afraid of disgrace, and so he resolved to put Mary away—to divorce—her secretly. He was concerned what the neighbors would think and realize, what did Joseph know about giving birth to a baby? As you read this account, look in Luke 2:5,67, where is Joseph mentioned? He is not much help, is he? Mary does it all, she gives birth, she wraps him, she cares for that baby. Joseph did not know anything.
Nowadays, we are more enlightened as men, and we go through the training with our wives, and we know more than that. They did not know anything, the men did not. He was there protecting, he was there to care, but he could not help with the birth. Who was it that helped with the birth of babies back then? It was the neighborhood women, the older women who had already been through it, who could help. Babies were not born in hospitals.
And so why was Mary taken away from all those neighborhood women? Well, to be taken away from those neighborhood women and the men who would gossip and hurt her deeply. That is the human reason, and I also think they knew who Christ was, and they knew that Christ had to be born in Bethlehem. Now, they would never have presumed or taken it upon themselves to go down to Bethlehem and have the child born there; God had to orchestrate it. And so, he did orchestrate it through the emperor, Caesar Augustus. Joseph said, “I have to go.” Mary said, “I’m going too. The baby must be born in Bethlehem.”
Now, as we look at this first section, we have a contrast with natural and supernatural aspects.
First, it is natural that a government leader should take a census for the purpose of taxation, is it not? As you look around, we still have this with us today. “There’s nothing permanent except death and taxes,” said Benjamin Franklin. And they are still with us today. Very natural that Caesar Augustus should do this. He had good reason to do it, so that he might know how much tax he could expect from each region of the world, and so that he might know how many troops, Roman legions, to apportion around his empire. Very natural.
It was natural that neighbors should gossip when counting months. That is natural as well.
It is natural that Joseph should join thousands of his countrymen traveling to their native town to register, that was natural, and it was natural that Mary should suffer greatly in giving birth to Christ. That is a natural thing. It is part of the curse that came in Genesis 3, and her suffering made all the greater by the fact that she had to travel those 75 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem. All of that was natural.
What was supernatural? Well, the predicted prophecy. Micah 5:2. In Micah 5:2, it is supernatural that God should sovereignly ordain that a little piece of Jewish Scripture, that Caesar Augustus did not even know, would ordain his decree before he ever ordained it, that his steps would be ordered by a piece of a holy writ that he did not know anything about, written seven centuries before this time. Micah 5:2, “But you Bethlehem, the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.” And you could say, “Now, how in the world did Caesar know that prophecy?” Well, he did not. But God sovereignly overruled it. It was supernaturally written seven centuries before that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
The Birth (Luke 2:4-7)
A Crowded Inn and a Lonely Mother
Now in verses 4-7, we have the birth and there we have the account of a crowded inn and a lonely mother. The crowded inn, all the people descend upon Bethlehem so that they might also be registered. The innkeeper is busy with his guests, he cannot be burdened with a woman about to give birth, cold-heartedly turns them away, does nothing for them, and we see a lonely mother.
If you read these verses, I already said something about it, but the fact of the matter is, Mary is pretty much alone in all these things she is doing. She gives birth to her firstborn, no nurses, no doctors, no midwives, Joseph is not even mentioned here. She wrapped him in cloths, she laid him in the manger. Long strips of cloth to keep the baby snug and warm. And so, it is with all babies, they like to be bundled up, comfortable in the womb and now their arms and their limbs are free, and they like to be bundled up, and so it was with Jesus, he was bundled up in these strips of cloth.
Last week in our Sunday School, we talked about this. I had done some research and found out that Justin Martyr says (he lived about 120 years after Christ) that Jesus was born in a cave. Now, I know that that does not fit with what Hallmark points out, that it looks like a little stable and all that, and I am sure many of you have nativity sets, but actually many mangers were placed in caves. A manger is just a portable thing where the animals feed, a trough, a feeding trough. And there were caves in the area of Bethlehem, and so they didn’t need to do anything for their animals except it was warm and dry in there, they put some straw in there and they would feed in there and keep the rain off them, and they would be warm. And so, it is quite possible, Justin Martyr is right, just 100 years after Jesus was born, that he was born in a cave. And wouldn’t that be perfect? Wouldn’t that be the way it is? Because just as he was born in a cave and his body was wrapped with strips of linen, what happened at the end of his life? Where was he buried? He was buried in a cave. And what happened to his body? Wrapped with strips of linen, the very strips of linen that were lying there when he rose from the dead.
Does God do that kind of thing? Yeah, he does. He does that kind of thing. Little details. Now the Scripture does not say he was born in a cave, but so it is, that he was born, and he was laid in a manger, and both the birth and the death show the weakness, the frailty of Jesus Christ, and it was that very frailty that gives us eternal life. It was the fact that he died and that his body had to be wrapped and placed in a cave and buried for us.
Now, as we look at this contrast in this section, again, we see the natural, we see the natural that the innkeeper should be so heartless and cold-hearted. That goes on today, and it makes our lives a bitter, that people do not love each other as they would like to be loved in that situation. They do not do to others what they would have done to them. If that were your wife, Mr. Innkeeper, would you have liked somebody to care for her? But instead, he turned her out. And that is natural.
It is natural that Jesus was born of a woman, born under the law. In the fullness of time, it says in Galatians 4:4, “God sent his son, born of a woman, born under law.” Everyone in this room was born of a woman, and so Jesus was as well. And there was struggle and there was pain, and there was difficulty. He needed to be scrubbed off and cleaned up, bundled up, and that he was so helpless. He came into the world helpless. Note all the passives. He was born, he was wrapped, he was laid. All these things were done to him, he was passive, he was weak, and also, that he was poor. I know that is hard for us to understand how natural that is, but worldwide, how many babies are born into poverty? Most. And so, it was natural that Jesus was born in poverty as well.
What is supernatural in this section? Well, that Mary was pregnant at all. That she was pregnant at all. She had never been with a man. The only person who had ever been born without a human father, but the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, and so, that baby was conceived inside her supernaturally, and she was a virgin when she gave birth. Joseph did not touch her, did not have marital relations with her in any way until after the baby was born, and so it is supernatural that she was pregnant at all.
But an even greater mystery, an even greater miracle is who that baby was, that baby was the creator of the universe. It says in John 1, “Through him all things were made, and without him nothing was made that has been made.” Everything. Let us get really specific. Does that include the cave that he was laid in? Yeah, it includes that. Does it include the manger and the straw? Yes, it includes that. Does it include all the animals that were there? Yes, it includes that, it includes the innkeeper, he created the innkeeper. It includes Joseph and it includes Mary as well. So, this brings us into a paradox. He is the only person that ever lived that created his own mother. Can you ever figure that out? No, it is impossible. It’s a miracle, it’s supernatural. But that is what we claim: that that baby lying in that manger was truly God in the flesh.
The Shepherds, the Angels, and the Baby (Luke 2:8-16)
In the next account, verses 8-16, we have the shepherds, the angel, and the baby. And who are these shepherds? They are just working men out in the fields doing their job, what we would call blue-collar workers. They were rejected by most of the people there, they were unable to come into the temple as they were. They were considered dirty, considered lowest of the low, and they are out there guarding the flocks because that was their job, that is how they earned a living. They were protecting their flocks from many intruders that might come, but there was an intruder that was going to come, an angel suddenly came in and the glory of the Lord shown around, there is nothing they could do to prevent that intrusion. They are just sitting on the hillside and suddenly the lights flash and the glory shines all around.
I spent a summer on a mission trip out in Kenya. It was in the rural part of Kenya, beautiful land, beautiful area. In that part, there was no electricity, and so when the sun went down, all you could see as you looked across the valley were kerosene lanterns and because kerosene was expensive, they did not last long. So, after a while, they would turn them out and they went to bed early, they were farmers. And you would look out across the valley, and there was not any human light, none. Only the natural light that God had made: The stars, the moon. That is all there was. And so, it would have been on that hillside.
Can you imagine the terror that came into their hearts if a light as bright as the sun shines all around when an angel appears? Sometimes angels just look like everyday people. At the resurrection of Jesus, they look just like men, like gardeners standing there. But this night, God put the glory around that angel, and that glory shone, and the shepherds looked, and they were terrified.
The Angelic Message
I do not know, the Bible does not say anything about it, but that there might be a school for angels up in heaven. And if you were in that school and you are told, “Now listen, when you’re sent from heaven to earth, the very first thing you have to say is” what? “Fear not.” “Alright, repeat after me, ‘Fear not.’ You have to get ready for your mission, okay? Why do you have to say that? Because they are terrified at the intrusion from heaven.” We are going to talk more about that tonight about how confronting and coming face-to-face with God brings terror and how the incarnation removes it. We will talk about that tonight.
So, the angel followed the instructions of angel school, if such there is, and said, “Fear not for I bring you good news.” And then the angel brings a message, and there are two amazing aspects. First, it says, “To you, a savior is born.” That’s amazing! To them, the rejects of society? Yes! To the worst, the lowest of the low. To them, a savior was born, and that includes us as well. The second aspect is, he is Christ the Lord.
The Angelic Host
Now look down at verse 26, this is not the account that we read but this is the story of Simeon. I am going to read Luke 2:26, it says, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, that he would not die before he had seen” what? “The Lord’s Christ.” Now, what is the difference between the Lord’s Christ and Christ the Lord? It was a big difference. One of them is, he is the Messiah, he is the perhaps human king, the descendant of David, who had come to rule, but Christ the Lord; now that’s difference. The Christ is actually God himself.
I do not know if the angels got it at that point. Maybe later they understood the message, “Christ the Lord,” but that was the message. And then they gave a sign, “You’re going to go see a baby lying in a manger. It’ll be a sign to you that all that I’ve said is true.” And that sign was needed.
Then suddenly “an angelic host.” Now, what is a host? It is a huge army. I am really kind of weary of the weak-looking angels that you see around. You know what I am talking about? The artistic renditions of angels? They would not scare anybody, even if there were light around them. These angels were warriors. And why are they out there? Why was the army out there? Because there is warfare in heaven all the time.
And do you think there might be any spiritual warfare around that manger scene? Oh, absolutely. Revelation 12 talks about it, “The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter and her child was snatched up to God and to his throne, and there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and the dragon and his angels fought back.”
Is that what was going on in the heavenly realms that night? Oh, yeah. Now, the devil used King Herod to try to snatch that child and kill it, but there was warfare in the heavenly realms, and so those angels are out there not just looking pretty, they are out there to have warfare and to protect that Christ child.
The Angelic Praise
What I love about these angels is that they are celebrating and they are worshipping and they’re praising. What confidence! We are going to win this battle, and the Christ will reign forever and ever. And the message, “glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among men who are objects of God’s favor.” They bring the peace that the emperor cannot, peace in life and peace in death, eternal life through the gift of the Son.
The Angelic Exit
Now, as they were watching the angels, it does not come across in the English, but the angels made a kind of a recession. It took them a while to go, it says that the shepherds were watching the angels as they were returning to heaven. What do you think that looked like? Heaven opened and the angels just kind of single file—I do not know, maybe it took a while—just go back up into heaven. They just stand there and look and think there is a whole world that we never see. It is around us right now.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that God could rend the skies and you would see it now? If he chose to, he could do it. From time to time, he did. Remember when Stephen was stoned? He looked up, he said, “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). To you now, you just do not see it. It is here all the time. Remember what Elisha said to his servant, “Lord, open his eyes that he might see, that there’s more for us than there are for them, chariots of fire, angels ready to serve” (2 Kings 6:17). It is around us all the time.
What is the contrast in this section?
First, the shepherds were out there at all. They were just doing their job, they were just working, just like many of you hard-working people. Their response was natural, terror, fear, and then joyful curiosity.
What was supernatural in this section? When was the last time you had such an angelic visitation? Have you ever? I have never seen this. I have never seen that supernatural light. I read about it, I believe it happened, I have just never seen it. And the angelic message, a clear prophecy of Christ, good news for all the people, all the people from every tribe and language and people and nation, and a sign, a child wrapped and laid in a manger. How strange. So, there’s supernatural prophecy.
The Reactions (Luke 2:17-20)
In verses 17-20, we get the reactions. The shepherds go into Bethlehem, they say, “Hey, let’s go look.” Do you think they abandoned their sheep? Everybody left? Maybe one or two angels had to stay behind, and they heard about it second-hand. Do you feel sorry for them? I wish I had been able to go and see. But some of the shepherds, perhaps even all of them, forget the sheep, let us go look and see, there’s good news that God has given us. They focus on this child, what kind of child is it? And then they begin to spread the word. They begin to tell everyone around, and the people are amazed at what they heard.
But then there’s Mary in her quiet meditation. She just thinks about it. She ponders things quietly in her heart, and eventually, I believe she told them to Luke who wrote them down.
The Emmanuel Principle
God with us
Now, as we look at this whole account and we see the beautiful blending of supernatural and natural, I think it all comes together in the word, Emmanuel.
If you look at verse 20, it says, “The shepherds returned.” What does that mean, “the shepherds returned”? Well, they went back to the hill, back to the job. You think your January 2nd or 3rd is hard, what about these shepherds? It would never be this way again, but they returned, but they glorified, and they praised God for what they had seen. And so, it is with us, Emmanuel.
What does Emmanuel mean? It means God with us. They did not go back alone. They went back with a promise that God would be with them, and not only that, but that the Christ child was now in earth, and that he had come for a purpose to be their savior, “A savior is born for you.” And so, God with us means God on our side. It says in Romans 8, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also along with him graciously give us all things? And if God is for us, who can be against us?” That is what Emmanuel means: God is for us.
Side by Side, Going through It with Us
It also means side by side with us. As you are going through your everyday life, where there are physical trials, maybe you are weak, maybe you are sick, maybe you have a difficult job, maybe you’re lonely—you’re not alone, you have Christ with you side by side.
Jesus experienced life as we did yet with supernatural power. He obeyed his parents, and yet he was conscious of his divine status as the Son of God. He knows hard manual labor in a carpentry shop, yet his hands could heal the blind. He knows hunger and yet he fed 5000. He walked on water across the lake to the boat of his disciples, and what did he do when he got to the boat? Got in and sat just like you and me. He knows bone weariness, and yet he was able to sleep in the midst of a storm, and then get up and say, “Peace, be still, to the storm.” We cannot do that.
There is a blending in Christ’s life of the natural and the supernatural. He knows poverty and yet he took a gold coin from a fish’s mouth to pay tax. Don’t you wish you could do that? Supernatural power blended with everyday circumstances; this is the principle of Emmanuel: side by side with us through everyday life.
God in Us
And then finally, even better: God in us. Jesus came to give us the indwelling Holy Spirit. He came to die on the cross to take away all our sins that he might live within us and give us a supernaturally powerful life. Not doing miracles, no, but resisting temptation, saying no to the devil and ungodliness and wickedness, and living supernaturally useful lives to him, advancing his gospel through the preaching of the Word. He said of the Holy Spirit, “He lives with you and will be in you” (John 14:17). That is Emmanuel.
Four Final Exhortations
I want to close with four final expectations.
Number one, view your common life as significant. For all those of you that are working, you go back to work Monday or Tuesday morning, whatever it is going to be, get down on your knees and thank God for everyday life, God created it and let Christ come inside you at that point and live his life supernaturally through you. (2) Realize that Christ experienced it all, and that (3) Christ is in you if you are a believer, and then (4) turn constantly to his supernatural power in your natural circumstances.
Limitation of the Natural
There is one last thing I want to say about this natural and supernatural. The whole reason that Jesus came is not just to elevate the natural and make it worthwhile, but to show the limitations of the natural. He came because we could not save ourselves.
It says in Isaiah 59, “The Lord looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one. He was appalled but there was no one to intervene, so his own arm worked salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him” (Isaiah 59:15-16). He came into the world because the natural would never get us saved, it would only condemn us.
It may be today that you have never given your life to Christ. Maybe you do not know him, maybe you do not know God in you through the power of the Spirit. Jesus came not just to elevate your everyday life and show that it is worthwhile, but to show that your everyday life is not going to be sufficient for judgment day, but you needed a savior. “You will give him the name ‘Jesus’ because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Please close with me in prayer. Heavenly Father, we want to thank you for the way you have created the natural world. You made it in six days, you formed it, and you have watched over it through all its eras of history. At the right time, in the fullness of time, you sent your Son into that everyday world to elevate it, to show its value, but also to show its limitation. We need a savior, we need a supernatural salvation, and Lord Jesus, you came to give it. Father, I pray for those who do not know you who are in this room that they might give their lives to you, that they might trust in you, Lord Jesus who died on the cross and who emptied that tomb. Father, we pray that they would trust in you. And for all those of us who do walk by faith, not by sight, O God, I pray that you would live out your Emmanuel life within us. We thank you for these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.