“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name Him Emmanuel, which means, ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23 NSRV)
Over the last few days, we’ve been looking at the birth of Jesus and asking some questions. For example, knowing it was Jesus in the manger, we’ve been trying to get to the bottom of exactly who is Jesus? Biblical evidence is irrefutable in verifying that the Jesus of the manger is none other than God in human flesh, “Emmanuel, which means, God is with us.”
So, today, Christmas Eve in America, I’d like for us to ponder, not in deep theological jargon, but in practical terms, what it means that God is literally with us?
Anne Graham Lotz said it this way: “The Seed of the woman, Who would open heaven’s gate and welcome any and all who place their faith in Him . . . had been given!
If you could ask God for anything for Christmas, what would it be? A trinket or a Treasure? Jesus, Emmanuel, didn’t come to be our sacred “Aladdin’s lamp” to provide our every whim.
A mom went to check on her little boy during a storm. When he told her he was afraid, she tried to reassure him by letting him know that God was with him. To which he responded, “Mommy, I need God with skin on.” That’s who Jesus is to us, and whether we realize it or not, He’s what we desperately need.
So, let’s look briefly at what it means that God is with us. He is with us in the Person of His Holy Spirit to give us:
- HOPE. Matthew 12:21 quotes Isaiah: “And His name will be the hope of all the world.” Hopelessness is among the most debilitating conditions we can experience. God’s Spirit fills, empowers, and enables us to know with certainty that our life matters, not only to God, but to the multiplied millions of Jesus followers across the world. We have hope, not only for this life, but for the next, because He gives us brothers and sisters to walk with us. Because of Jesus, your life matters to me. I’m praying that even as you read these words you can sense His closeness.
- PURPOSE/MISSION. Just as every part of my body has purpose and must coordinate with the other parts to enable me to function as a human, our spirit, filled and empowered by God’s presence with us, enables us to join with each other as members of the Body of Christ to accomplish things none of us could ever accomplish on our own. Our mission for God matters. There are people who need to know Jesus that only we can reach.
- RELATIONSHIP. We become a member of God’s Family, the Church, when we are “born again” by God’s Spirit. That’s made possible by the birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension of the babe in the manger. Jesus is with us every second, but He becomes “Jesus with skin on” as He places us in a local family of believers who are committed to Him and to each other.
Sylvia Gunter has a weekly devotional called The Father’s Business (https://thefathersbusiness.com/) that I’ve been receiving for years. Let me close with these words of Sylvia’s I read on 12-04-2019:
“You may often wish that you could have met Jesus when He walked this earth. How amazing would that have been to look into His eyes and see His smile! While we may not have that privilege in (2021), Jesus is still Immanuel. He is still with us. Regardless of what this Christmas brings you, whether it is sorrow or joy, Jesus knows. And more important, He cares. He is still the active expression of the extravagant love that God your Father has for you. He is still with you.
This Christmas may you drink deeply of the truest gift you have ever received… God loves you so much that He will go to any lengths necessary to show you that He is Immanuel, God with you.” (Sylvia Gunter)
May you sense the presence of Jesus with you as you celebrate His birth in this sacred season.
Blessings, Ed 😊