“…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20b
It’s Christmas Eve…quiet and calm, after a worshipful candlelight service at our church. I’m struck by the tranquility of the evening, not planned but very welcome. Here, on the cusp of one of our faith’s two holy days of the year, it’s appropriate to contemplate what’s behind all the holiday fuss.
Of all the names associated with Jesus Christ, the one that stands out to me this Christmas is Immanuel—which literally means, “God with us.” Think about it. God with us. Not for us. Nor above us. With us.
God. Not some great moral teacher or prophet. God. With us. We can’t comprehend it, which is why so many people just write off Christmas as some sort of foolish fairy tale or irrelevant story. Even those who “take the high road” tend to acknowledge the wisdom of Christ’s words without accepting His deity.
C. S. Lewis deftly skewers the scoffers’ argument in his third chapter of Mere Christianity: “You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
It’s true. That name, Immanuel, signifies the unique identity of Jesus Christ. He was, and is, God with us. The first Christmas was the culmination of the longed-for presence of God among us…made possible by His unimaginable sacrifice to join us at our level.
Born as a human baby, lying in a livestock feed trough. Growing up to carry our pain and sorrows. Facing opposition, to the point of dying a hideous death. Paying the ultimate price for our sins. Just to be with us. Not some ordinary wise man. God. Who loved us enough to want to live with us.
As you wake tomorrow, to the sounds, scents, and sights of Christmas morning, stop for a moment to recognize the unfathomable privilege of knowing that Christ was born to be with us. That He conquered death and remains with us. That we might forever live with Him.
May your Christmas Day be all that you wish, and more—may you truly experience the presence of God incarnate, Immanuel, Jesus Christ, with you, in your heart and home.
Lord Jesus Christ, may we sing the familiar carol in our hearts as we invite you into our hearts on Christmas Day: O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in; be born in us today. We hear the Christmas angels the great glad tidings tell; O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Immanuel!* In the beautiful promise of Your name, Amen.
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*Last stanza of “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” Phillips Brooks