“They Shall Call His Name Immanuel” – Matthew 1:18–25

December 5, 2021

“They Shall Call His Name Immanuel” – Matthew 1:18–25

Passage: Matthew 1:18-25
Service Type:

Hear now the word of the Lord from Matthew chapter one, starting in verse eighteen through twenty-five.

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from 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 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.Matthew 1:18-25, ESV

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God endures forever.

Well, every year around this time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I think back fondly to what was happening this time of year in the year 2008. Now I don't think back to that time that year because that was a particular easy time in my life. I was in seminary and I had taken some extra classes that semester, I was in the middle of a pastoral internship, I had a part time job. Most of that semester, I was getting up at 3:00 in the morning just to get all of my schoolwork done. On top of that, at the very end of the year, I was finishing papers and trying to turn in final assignments and I was moving. I was trying to move from one apartment to another, and this move had to be done before I went home for the Christmas break.

So I don't think fondly back on that time in my life because it was easy or carefree. I think back fondly on that time because I was preparing to get married when I was going to head home. We were going to get married the first Saturday after Christmas that we could. My wife was finishing her college studies in Chicago and she was headed back and we were going to get married on December 27th. I was taking extra classes so that I could take fewer classes once we were married, and the move was so that I could prepare that first home for our new family.

I think back fondly on those times because we had been in a long distance relationship by that time for about two and a half years and it was awful. Not the person, I was excited about her, but the long distance was something we were both very tired of. We were burned out on phone calls. There was some video conference Skype stuff that was brand new, but it didn't work very well and we just wanted to be with each other. There's just nothing that can be a replacement for being with each other. We wanted that and we were excited to get married, to be with each other for the rest of our lives until death do us part.

Well, at this time of year, every year, we the church also fondly remember the preparations that God himself was making 2000 years ago to send his son, Jesus Christ, into the world. We remember that a part of that story, a part of the preparations for God to send his son into the world, involved another marriage in the preparations for that marriage between a young man named Joseph and a young woman named Mary. Their relationship had a number of significant challenges right from the outset, namely that before they had come together, Mary was found to be with child. She was found to be pregnant, but this child, we are told in this story was not the product of normal human generation between a father and a mother. This child in the Virgin Mary was from the Holy Spirit.

So we are reminded that in this passage, the purpose for this is so that this child could be named Emmanuel, God with us. All the God was doing was so that God could be with his people. There's nothing can replace God's being with his people, and this is the means that God chooses to do it. All of these preparations that we're reading about in this story are not so much so that the couple could be with each other, but so that God could be with these people.

That's our big idea for the sermon this morning that Jesus is God with us. We're going to consider what it means for Jesus to be God with us, Emmanuel, in three sections, with three implications of that.

1. God with Us as Stumbling Block
2. God with Us as Savior
3. God with Us as Son of David

God with Us as Stumbling Block

So first, God with us as stumbling block. This is perhaps the difficult part. The tension in this Christmas story that we read about in verses 18 and 19. Look at verse 18 with me, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way." Now, if you were here last week, we looked at the genealogy in verses one through seventeen of the book of Matthew. I went back to verse one and pointed out that the phrase there "the book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ" in Matthew 1:1, that word genealogy is the word from which we get our word genesis from the same word that we use for the book of the Bible Genesis.

There's a reason for that. I said, namely that word genesis appears throughout the Greek translation of the book of Genesis, it structures the whole book. We keep reading about all of the generations, the generations of Adam, the generations of Abraham, the generations of Jacob. We keep reading about the generations, the beginning and the place from which the history of God's people emerges.

Matthew recited and recounted all of that history and the genealogy that he gave, as he told how Abraham was the father of Isaac and on and on and on until we get all the way through the end of it and come to Jesus. Now, when we come to verse 18, Matthew is in some ways picking up that genealogy because when we read in verse 18, "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way." That word birth again is that word genesis. We are reading here about a new sacred history, a new beginning of the story of God's people as God sends his own son into the world to accomplish all the salvation that he had planned and predestined before the foundations of the world were laid.

What's happening here in verse 18 is we read about the birth of Jesus Christ, the genesis of Jesus Christ. What Matthew is doing is answering an unresolved question that he opened, but didn't answer back in verse 16. Remember, in that line of the genealogies that Abraham was the father of Isaac and Isaac, the father of Jacob, and on and on and on down the line?

If you remember when we came to verse 16 in that line, there was a break in that pattern. We saw that Jacob was the father of Joseph, and that word the father of refers to the active paternal biological role of the father in begetting a child after him and Jacob had done that for Joseph. Then when we come to Joseph's relationship to Jesus, we see that there's an important break in that pattern. We see that Joseph does not beget Jesus. Joseph is not the father of Jesus. We read that Joseph is related to Jesus simply as the husband of Mary. It's of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Christ. So there's a big unresolved question; how does this happen? What happened there? Why was that chain of what the father of and the father of and the father of? Why was that broken in verse 16? Matthew was about to answer that question.

This is the culmination of the entire history of God's people leading up to this point. This is the resolution and the answer to that question where does Jesus come from? Particularly, how is Jesus related to Joseph? Well, to answer that question, we have to first consider that relationship of Mary and Joseph. So in verse 18, it continues, "When his mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit", or from the Holy Spirit.

Now we need to clarify that a betrothal in those days was a very different matter from an engagement in our days. If you break off an engagement, it's certainly a tragic thing, but you haven't broken off a marriage in any sense. We recognize a clear distinction marriage happens at the wedding, but an engagement is a preparation for that, and you don't actually enter into marriage in any sense during the engagement. A betrothal was a different kind of custom. A betrothal was in fact a legal marriage, so legal, so binding that the only way to separate those who had been betrothed was by a divorce. That's what Joseph is contemplating in verse 19. He wants to divorce Mary quietly. He has to do that since they are legally married in the sense of being betrothed.

A betrothal is also a limited kind of marriage. The couple does not cohabitate together, they don't live together yet. That's what it refers to when we read. This was before they had come together, and it's in that time before they had come together that Mary was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. A child that Joseph knew he was not the father of. Now, this is a problem. This is a problem because by all outward appearances for Mary to be with child and Joseph knowing that he wasn't the father means that the only possible explanation, humanly speaking, is that Mary had been unfaithful by all outward appearances. That's the only reasonable, rational explanation is that Mary had been unfaithful to Joseph with another man.

Now, Matthew tells us that that's not the case. This child is from the Holy Spirit, but we don't know what Joseph knows about that. If we read the gospel of Luke, we read there that Mary was told that this was going to happen to her by an angel Gabriel from the Lord, that she knew that she would bear a child, even though she had not yet known any man and this child would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. So we have to wonder, does Mary tell Joseph this? Because if Mary does tell Joseph this, then he clearly doesn't believe her.

What we are seeing here in verse 19 is that Joseph is faced with a deep dilemma. If he moves forward to take Mary as his wife, he is essentially acknowledging or admitting responsibility for Mary's pregnancy. He can't do that and so he has to figure out some solution to this great problem. So Joseph, we are told, is a just man. He's a righteous man. He loves the Lord. He follows the law of the Lord. He's a just man, but he is as a part of being a just man, also a merciful man who is unwilling to put Mary to shame. So Joseph does the only thing that he can do. He does the best he can of this difficult situation. He resolves to divorce Mary quietly.

Now, what we need to see here is that even from conception, Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to the world. To all those who walk by sight, to all those who evaluate what's happening in the world by outward appearances, according to human wisdom and human knowledge, there is one explanation and one explanation alone to what's happened with Mary. It's that she's been unfaithful, she's been unfaithful with another man, and that's where this pregnancy has come from. Now, Joseph, it's not really his fault. There's really only one reasonable explanation for what's happened here, and so it's not his fault that he does what he's planning to do or that he plans to do what he doesn't follow through with, as we will see.

Joseph does the best he can with the situation. He can't claim responsibility for this. That would bring shame and disrepute on himself, so he can't just take Mary as his wife. He's got to separate from her, but he wants to do this in a way that is honoring to her or in a way that doesn't expose her to unnecessary reproach. Jesus Christ is a stumbling block to those who walk by sight. Human wisdom can't take into account what's happening here.

It's sometimes argued that only in a pre-scientific age could people believe in the miracle of the virgin birth. That if they knew about sperm and eggs and zygote and all of that, then no one would have believed in this nonsense called the virgin birth. That misses what Joseph's reaction is here. Joseph reacts as a man who knows exactly how babies are made and the reasoning since he knows that he wasn't involved in this is that Mary must have been unfaithful. Joseph is doing the best that he can with this terrible situation.

Right from the beginning, right from conception, God is making known that no human being will ever embrace Christ by human wisdom. You can't reason your way to Christ. You can't use human worldly wisdom to figure out who Christ ought to be right from the beginning. God is cutting through this, and God tells us that he will do this. As the Apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:21, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe."

God wants to ensure from the beginning that God's kingdom will not be established through what is reasonable and rational to human worldly thinking, the only way to embrace Christ is by faith. Joseph, though, lacks the revelation, lacks the information that he needs to believe that this child is in fact from the Holy Spirit. So he does the only thing that he's able to do until God intervenes and gives him that revelation, as we'll see in the next section.

Now, to illustrate Joseph's dilemma here, I love the story of the code talkers who fought with the Marines in World War Two. If you're familiar with that story of World War Two and the code talkers, there was a movie made in it starring Nicolas Cage called Wind. It highlights a very unique approach that the United States took in World War Two to try to encrypt their communications. They used bilingual Navajo, Native American Navajo, speakers who also could speak English. These Navajo speakers then encrypted English words in the Navajo language, and they would use the Navajo language to spell. They would use Navajo words to spell essentially English words. The problem with this from the other side is that unless you knew Navajo, there was absolutely no way you could break this code. There was no way you could just sort of intuit what the code should mean. You either knew Navajo and therefore could break the code or you didn't know the Navajo language and you couldn't break the code.

It's like going to a foreign country. If you've ever had this experience, unless you know the language, you have no idea what's going on around you. It's like a wall to you that you either know it or you don't. The word of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ is like that, either God breaks through to us by giving us revelation to tell us what he's up to or we simply won't know it. We can't reason our way to it, we can't understand it. Not because the gospel is complicated.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is not complicated, it's very simple. Certainly it's profound, and it grows in depth the more you think about it, but the gospel of Jesus is very simple, not complex. The difficulty in believing that a virgin conceived and bore a son and the difficulty in believing that her son was God Almighty in human flesh, and the difficulty of believing that this God man lived a perfect life and died on the cross for our sins, and the difficulty of believing that this man, Jesus Christ God in the flesh, then rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and the one day he will return to judge the living in the dead. The difficulty of believing all of this is not because the message is complex. The difficulty is because this message clashes and cuts against the grain of all the wisdom of the world.

From the beginning. Jesus Christ is a stumbling block. We can't come to know Jesus through the reasoning of human wisdom, we can't come to know Jesus. Apart from explicit revelation given to us by God. God either tells us the information so that we know it or we don't have the information so that we can't know it. By all outward appearances, the only explanation here is that Mary has been unfaithful.

God with Us as Savior

So to believe in Jesus, Joseph needs revelation from God, this brings us to the second section. God with us as savior, God with us as Savior, starting in verse 20. If you look at verse 20, you can see that Joseph very quickly gets the revelation he needs, "But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. "

Now stop there for a moment. The first thing the Angel declares to Joseph in this dream is to speak his name and then to address him by a title, "Joseph, son of David". Now, what this title is getting at is a reminder of all that is at stake in what Joseph is planning on doing to divorce Mary. Because Joseph is the son of David, remember, the son of David is the one who is legally the one to succeed the throne after David. Now, there hadn't been an Israelite king on the throne of David for quite some time, but God had made a covenant with David, promising that God would never let there be a lack of a king on the throne of David through all their generations. That promise had to be refilled by restoring a rightful king to the throne of David. Joseph, as we read in the genealogy in verses two through 16 of chapter one, Joseph is this rightful recipient of this lineage. He is the rightful son of David. If he divorces Mary, as he intends to, then Jesus will not merely be born out of wedlock, Jesus will not inherit the legal status as the son of David. He'll be born apart, outside this lineage. He won't have this legal status as the son of David.

So in verse 20, the angel continues in telling Joseph what he needs to hear in order to proceed with the marriage, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit." Now we had read that earlier, but now Joseph hears this word and Mary, maybe Mary told him this, but now Joseph hears this word from an angelic emissary from God's throne in heaven. Joseph knows now that this child was not conceived in the process of ordinary generation, but this process is conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Well, in verse twenty-one, the angel continues, saying "She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” Here's where he explains what this means, "For he will save his people from their sins." The word Jesus is sort of a Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua is a name that means Yahweh saves, the Lord saves. That's clearly the significance that the angel wants to bring out when he's announcing the name of Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. It's important that he specifies the kind of salvation. This isn't political salvation. This isn't a salvation from some worldly sort of oppression. The salvation that Jesus came to accomplish his salvation from their sins.

Now, as we will see in the book of Matthew, sin is a word that appears very infrequently, only seven times, in the entire gospel of Matthew. What we are seeing here is that doesn't mean that the word sin or the concept of sin is unimportant, because we are seeing here that the very name of Jesus means someone who will save God's people from their sins. We're told this right from the outset of the book of the Gospel of Matthew. So that whenever we read Jesus and the Gospel of Matthew, it should be called to mind, this is the one who will save God's people from their sins.

Then Matthew goes on to connect the dots a little bit for us. This isn't brand new information that God's people previously knew nothing about. In fact, all of this had been foretold in the Old Testament and was now being fulfilled in Mary. So Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14. Andrew, Lord willing, is going to preach next week on the passage in Isaiah in its original context. However, let me simply show what's happening here, that we have New Testament revelation God speaking through this angelic emissary to tell Joseph that this is this child is conceived by the Holy Spirit. We see in the Old Testament that it was always foretold that the virgin would conceive and bear a son and they shall call his name Emmanuel. In the Old Testament and the New Testament, God's plan has always been to bring his son into this world, born of a virgin.

Then Matthew continues and draws a further significance to this. Drawing from the last line of Isaiah 7:14, "and they shall call his name Emmanuel", Matthew translates this for us, which means God with us. Emmanuel is a Hebrew word that means literally with us God. So Matthew is telling us what this means God with us now. This is something that you could simply say, just as you could say, Yahweh saves. That's the name of Jesus. That's the meaning of the name of Jesus.

So you could also say, Emmanuel, that's true, God is with us, especially God is with us by his Holy Spirit. When we read that this son, this child, his name shall be called Emmanuel, well, clearly, they name him something different. They name him something, Jesus. But he has given Emmanuel in the sense of telling something about him. This child will be Emmanuel. You can call him Emmanuel. Why? Because this child is God with us.

Now, one commentator points out that this idea that Jesus is God in the flesh with us, with his people, is something that shows up throughout the entirety of the Book of Matthew. It shows up at the beginning, the middle and the end of Matthew. So here it is. In the beginning, we are reading that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. Then in the middle of the Book of Matthew, in Matthew 18:20, Jesus reminds his disciples, "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then the Book of Matthew closes, the final words of Matthew where Jesus promising his people, "Behold, I am with you always to the end of the age", in Matthew 28:20.

The significance here is that Jesus is God with us. What this means is that he has come to save his people from their sins. This is God's revelation to Joseph, and this is God's revelation to us. Matthew is telling us God's declaration, God's explanation, God's identification of Jesus Christ. He is the son of God. He is God almighty. He has God in the flesh, God with us, and he is Jesus, the one who will save his people from their sin.

God with Us as Son of David

Now, in the final section of this passage, Matthew has to give us one more detail to close the loop a loop that was opened all the way back in verse one when we read that Jesus Christ is the son of David. Now, remember that has great legal significance. Only the son of David can remain on the throne over Israel as the rightful king over God's people. Now Matthew has to draw the connection. How then, is this Jesus, the son of David? As we'll see, it's through the adoption of Joseph, the son of David, before him. So look at verse 24. When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the Angel of the Lord commanded, he took his wife but knew her not until she had given birth to a son.

Joseph did not embrace Christ by human wisdom, he didn't reason, Hey, this sounds right. There's my wife who's claiming to be a virgin, who's pregnant. That sounds like it checks out. No, he's acting and obeying and believing on the basis of revelation. The word of God telling him that this child in her is from the Holy Spirit. So without hesitation, he moves forward to do what the angel commanded him to do. He took his wife, but we read that he did not know her. They did not enter into normal marital relations until Jesus had been born. By doing this, Joseph is protecting Mary and Jesus from public scandal. Remember, there was a lot at stake in this. People were going to draw their own conclusions about the fact that Joseph married a woman who was already pregnant before they came together. However, we read also that later Jesus will have brothers and sisters, in Matthew, 13:55-56. The word for brothers is a word that can mean relatives or cousins, but the word sisters really can't. It usually is used to refer to an immediate biological sister.

So what it seems from here is that Mary and Joseph go on to have a normal human relationship, a human marriage relationship, but that doesn't start, that intimacy doesn't start until after Jesus was born.

Matthew isn't interested in spilling all of that out here. What he wants to tell us at the end of verse twenty-five is the most important, "He (Joseph) called his name Jesus." The reason this is significant is that to name someone is to claim that person for yourself, to claim authority over that person. So if you read in the Bible father's name, their children, they claim authority over their children by naming them. Joseph is adopting Jesus as his son.

So again, here's what closes the loop back to verse one. Here's what tells us how that original claim that Jesus is the son of David can possibly be true. Not because Jesus is the biological son of Joseph, but because he is the adopted son of Joseph. So where the gospel of Luke spent so much time shining the spotlight on Mary's faithfulness, "Let it be, according to your word", is her attitude. Matthew is shining the spotlight on the faithfulness of Joseph, that even when there is scandal and disrepute that might come upon him, he believes this child is from the Holy Spirit, and he takes Mary as his wife. Because Joseph is thoroughly faithful, Jesus is legally endowed as the heir of David's throne.

Well, on November 23rd, 2019, our family, which had grown considerably since 2008, piled into a courtroom in downtown Omaha to adopt our son, Aaron. At that time, as part of the decrees of the court, we legally changed his name to what it is now, Aaron Gerber. We changed his name because again, to name someone is to claim that person and we were claiming him. I want to read to you one of the questions that the judge asked us at that time, because what was true then legally about adoption casts light on what Joseph was doing when he named Jesus as his son.

The question we received was this, "Do you agree to bestow upon Aaron all of the rights and privileges of a child born to you? And do you understand that from this day forward, the usual relationship of parent and child shall exist between you and Aaron, with all of the rights, duties and legal consequences of the natural relation of parent and child?" Now we were delighted to say yes. We were delighted to adopt Aaron into our family, but Joseph here is accomplishing the same thing. All of the legal consequences of his status as the rightful heir to the throne of David are bestowed upon Jesus. Not because he is the natural son of Joseph, but because he is the legally adopted son of Joseph. Once God revealed it to Joseph, the full story, that's what we've been reading here and when Joseph heard the full story he believed in, he obeyed.


So then, as we consider what to do with this story, how to apply this story to our lives, we're faced with the same dilemma. Will we believe what God has revealed to us or will we reject this story according to human wisdom? Well, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, who gives us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to believe. Let me plead with you two things to apply this passage.

1. Trust in Jesus Christ as Emmanuel as God with us. Even today, by all outward appearances, it should be impossible to believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, the son of Abraham and the son of David. Human wisdom may approve of some version of Jesus. Perhaps Jesus is a good teacher or Jesus as a non-judgmental and affirming voice, but human wisdom cannot give you the true Jesus, the Jesus who was the eternal son of God who was born in the fullness of time in human history to the Virgin Mary, conceived from the Holy Spirit and born to the Virgin Mary. Jesus has been and he always will be a stumbling block to human wisdom. God declares that this is so.

God declares that the only way to know Jesus is through his spirit and what he reveals in his word 1 Corinthians 1:21, I'll read it again, "For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe." God proclaims, he announces, he preaches to you that Jesus Christ is himself Emmanuel, that he is God with us. Jesus is the eternal son of God. He is God of God. Light of light. Very God of very God. Who for us and for our salvation, came down from heaven and became incarnate by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary. So that the one named Jesus of Nazareth was God almighty in human flesh.

You, like Joseph, would never have come to that conclusion on your own. If someone had told you this, you would never have come to this conclusion on your own. Well, all of these fathers that we read about, well, certainly Jesus must have been the natural son of Joseph. But like God does for Joseph, God is giving you revelation, he's speaking truth to you through his word, peeling back the curtains to let you see what's happening in these eternal realities that God, before the foundations of the Earth were laid, had planned that one day the eternal son of God would enter into the world in this way.

Once Joseph heard God's word, he abandoned his plans to divorce Mary. He believed, and he responded in obedience by faith. What about you? Will you abandon your own plans for your life, will you abandon your preconceptions about who Jesus is? Will you respond to this Jesus in faith and will you reorder your life around the obedience of faith? Trust in Jesus, as Emmanuel as God with us.

2. I implore you, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, trust in Jesus Christ as savior from your sin. Jesus did not come into this world to advocate for your pet political philosophy. Jesus did not come into this world merely to be a teacher or a good example. Jesus did not come into this world, certainly to affirm our sinful lifestyle. That's not why he came. On the contrary, Jesus came into this world to save his people from their sins. It came first to declare to you an exceedingly ugly truth, a hard truth, that you are a sinner who is guilty before Almighty God, condemned where you stand, a dead man walking because of your sin, because of your rebellion against the Lord of the Universe, the creator of Heaven and Earth.

Jesus Christ came into this world to declare to you something else. That while that is true, while you are condemned in yourself because of your sin, he also came to declare to you a precious gospel. That he came to save you from your sin, your guilt, your shame, your condemnation, even though that salvation would cost him everything in his human life. The salvation had to come through a life where Jesus entered into excruciating suffering all the way through his life, but especially as he went to the cross. This salvation came through his perfect obedience so that he succeeded where you failed.

Ultimately, the salvation did require Jesus to die on the cross, the righteous for the unrighteous. The innocent for the guilty, to pay the penalty for your sin. Now that Jesus has risen victorious over sin, death, and the devil from the grave, he holds out to you the salvation to be received by faith. Do you turn from your sin? Do you turn to Christ for your salvation? Do you submit to the son of David as king as rightful king over God's people?

You see what God prophetically foretold in the Old Testament. He accomplished and confirmed in the New Testament. God now reveals not only to Joseph, but to you immeasurably good news, the Jesus Christ is God with us the savior of sinners, Will you then believe it? Is a good word that he's spoken. Will you then believe it and turning from your sin and sorrow and looking to Christ alone for your salvation?

Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we pray that you would give us grace. We pray that you would open our eyes to see and our ears to hear in our hearts to understand this good news that you would free us from bondage to sin that turns away from this good news and that you would instead give us new hearts and new wills and new desires to embrace Christ freely, as he's offered to us in the gospel by faith. In Christ name we pray. Amen.

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