“Behold, A Savior is Born”

“The Promised Hope”

Today we are recognizing the first Sunday of Advent. Traditionally within the church, this begins a season of preparation for God’s people to fully embrace the birth of Jesus Christ. This is one of my favorite times of year because you can start to sense that Christmas is coming. Main Street is covered with decorated evergreens. Three Santa Clauses and six Grinches rode through town last night during the Christmas parade. I can finally play Christmas music without people cringing. 

This morning we are beginning a brand-new sermon series called Behold A Savior Is Born

Today we’ll review that thousands of years ago there were prophets in the Old Testament who wrote about a future day when God would send a savior to His people. He would make a way for all things to be healed from the devastating effects of sin. It is during this season we celebrate 

that in a dirty stable in Bethlehem long ago, 

there was born a baby 

who would change the world by bringing eternal hope.

How many of us have ever created a Christmas list? 

You know the list of gifts you would like to receive on Christmas day? 

I remember as a kid scrolling through the Sears Catalog and circling the toys and clothes I wanted for Christmas. As fun as it is to make lists and wait to open presents during the holidays, the bigger picture behind this holiday is that because of Jesus’ birth, we have hope that our greater desires, 

beyond electronics, toys, and jewelry…

things like purpose, meaning, significance, forgiveness, and wholeness 

are available to us. 

These are gifts that we don’t have to wait to open. When we place our faith in Jesus, they are ours, and that reality fills us with hope no matter what happens on Christmas day under a Christmas tree.


The people of God in the Old Testament didn’t have written Scriptures they could read, so they told their children who told their children of the prophecies given by God that brought them hope. These prophecies assured them that God would 

bless them and 

through them, 

bless the entire world. 

They were hoping for a Messiah. The word Messiah means the “anointed one”. The Messiah would be sent to rescue and heal all of creation from the destructive effects of sin. The prophet Isaiah wrote about this hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. The Conley’s read for us this promise, 

Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you  a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

God gave his people a sign for when the promised and anointed one would finally arrive. This was meant to give them something to wait for and to watch for, knowing God never failed their hearts were filled with hope that they may be the ones to see the sign.

Hundreds of years before Mary and Joseph ever came to Bethlehem; hundreds of years before there was ever a crowded inn and a dusty old stable, God had spoken hope through the prophets. God told his people to watch for a virgin who would become pregnant. Now this is an interesting sign. First of all, this does not happen every day. In fact, it would be a miracle. But this miracle would indicate that it was of God and not of man. 

Also, this pregnant woman would give birth to a son and his name would be Immanuel.

The signs of God working in your life will often be things that you could not produce on your own. They will be things that only God can do. This is where hope is born. If I could do things on my own, then I would have no need for God. The truth is, we need divine power to save our marriages, to fight those diagnoses that make doctors confused, to kick addictions, or to be freed from depression. When a virgin gives birth to a son, that is a work of God and a sign He can do anything! When the angel Gabriel visited Mary He said, Nothing, you see, is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:37, The Message)


It is the name that is given to this child that is really interesting in this passage. Immanuel: This is a Hebrew word that means “God with us”. When creation cried out for help, God did not tell it to get its act together and then He would come close. Rather, God saw all that He had made needed to be rescued so He made prepared to come toward us. While we were yet sinners, God came to us and ultimately died for us. Paul tells us this in the book of Romans.

Romans 5:8 ​​But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God did not come to us because we deserve it. He did not come to us because we earned it. He came to us because He loves us and knew we could not get ourselves out of the mess of sin we were in. It was the knowledge that God would one day return for His people that kept the people of God going. It is what inspired their hope, and today, we are encouraged because He has come, just as was foretold.

Has anyone here been to Flagstaff Lake, which is just north of Sugarloaf and Carrabasset Valley. It is one of the mysteries of Maine. If you could scuba dive you would discover a lost city in that lake. In 1930 CMP was on a mission to take over all the electric facilities in Maine. They tried to build a dam on the Kennebec River but didn’t succeed so they focused on Flagstaff Lake. They began purchasing properties around the lake in order to  create a dam to generate more energy. They managed to buy out most of the businesses and houses in Flagstaff, Maine. It took a few years so while this was going all the improvements and repairs in the town stopped. What use was it to fix something if it was going to be under water in six months? Why repair anything if the whole village was going to flooded? So week by week the town became more bedraggled. Halford E. Luccock wrote in his book, “Unfinished Business,” “Where there is no faith in the future, there is no power in the present.”

At Christmas, we have the luxury of looking back over the Old Testament prophecies and seeing how many of them have come to fruition in the birth of Jesus. While the Israelites waited on God to come, we are able look back at a God who came and is presently with us.

Far too many of us have the mentality of this old town. We have stopped believing that God is with us and therefore nothing will ever get better. 

We have stopped hoping for a change in the wind or a bit of new life. But when we give up hope, it becomes its own self-fulfilling prophecy. When we lose hope, we stop working on broken relationships, we turn to substance abuse, we lose the will to fight, and our mind becomes a dangerous place.

Here is the good news today. There was a virgin who gave birth. That child was and is Immanuel. God is with us… we should never lose heart.


The story of Jesus is bookended by two major events. The first is his birth that we read about in Isaiah 7. The second event is what confirms our hope is in the right place. 

The second event we find prophetically spoken about only a few chapters later in chapter 53 of Isaiah.

READ Isaiah 53:5 

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

    he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was on him,

    and by his wounds we are healed.

Hundreds of years before Jesus grows up to be a man and carries out three years of powerful ministry, hundreds of years before he will be arrested, crucified, and killed, Isaiah writes about how the manger will lead to the cross. Jesus was pierced in his hands and feet by nails holding Him to the cross. He was crushed and beaten by His accusers. He was punished for wrongs He never committed himself. He received wounds on our behalf. 

It is by the suffering that He went through that we have freedom from our own sin and rebellion. Though you and I are deserving of death and the penalty for all the sinful things we have done, Jesus took it on himself. Our hope of healing, freedom, wholeness, and eternal life is made possible because of Jesus.

I heard someone once say that if Christmas is the promise, then Easter is the proof. That makes sense. We celebrate Christmas because we know that resurrection is coming! We have also been given the awesome privilege of offering the hope that we have found in Christ to others. What better season to do this in than Christmas. It may cost us something. It may be a sacrifice, but considering all God has done for me, it is the least we can do.

David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary and explorer who spent thirty- three years in the heart of Africa. 

He endured much suffering as he labored to spread the Gospel and open the continent to missionaries. This godly missionary once remarked:

“People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of a great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?…It is emphatically no sacrifice. Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering, or danger now and then with a foregoing of the common conveniences and charities of this life, may make us pause, and cause the spirit to waver, and the soul to sink, but let this only be for a moment. All these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall hereafter be revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk, when we remember the great sacrifice which HE made who left his Father’s throne on high to give himself for us.”

This holiday season may our hearts be filled with the hope that is ours in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. May we be so overwhelmed with gratitude that we would be compelled to serve and sacrifice for others as a way of sharing our hope with the world.

Our servant king has been born and he has given us an example to follow. 

What is one way you can offer hope to someone this week? 

Perhaps it would be by sacrificially giving to an organization or an individual in need. 

Perhaps it would be writing a letter or note to encourage someone and share the hope that you have in your life.

Jesus commanded us to make disciples, by encouraging others to follow Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, may we use this season to talk with those around us about the hope that Christmas really brings. 

Let’s pray.