Merry Christmas to you and all your family. I pray that you enjoy a wonderful time together for the Christmas season and for the New Year. The day of a person’s birth is always important. If someone approached you asking what were the greatest 5 days or 10 days in your life, would the times when your children or grandchildren were born, make the list? The day when Jesus was born was truly one of the greatest days of all time. We don’t really know what day that was, but it isn’t the specific day that makes it special but the one who was born on that day. There were certainly lots of other babies born on that day, but no other child like this one. God had Isaiah the prophet to tell of that day in Isaiah 7:14 when he promised the Christ would be born of a virgin and would be called “Immanuel” which means “God with us.” Micah foretold that he would be born in the city of Bethlehem and Isaiah said when he came in birth his name would be called, “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace and Everlasting Father.”
When both Mary and Joseph were visited by the angel of the Lord it was to prepare them for this amazing blessing that was coming. Most likely they were like everyone else and believed that when the Messiah was born it would be to royal or very wealthy parents and he would grow up in a mansion somewhere. Mary was even more confused in that the Angel promised the one to be born would come while she was still a virgin. She asked, “How can this be since I’ve never had sex with a man?” God’s angel promised it would be the Holy Spirit that came upon her and made her pregnant. When Joseph learned she was pregnant he thought she had been unfaithful to him with some other man. God’s angel informed him that the child was of the Holy Spirit and he was to take her as his wife and not have sex with her until after the birth of Jesus.
Jesus birth was like no other birth. He was born in a stable and placed in the small bin out of which the animals ate, called a manger. He was born of a virgin. He was from Nazareth instead of Bethlehem. All of those things are unusual but that wasn’t what made his birth unique. It was that his birth was a shout of IMMANUEL. He would be called “Jesus” which means “God saves us.” But he would constantly be “God with us.” In Philippians 2:5-12 his journey was explained. He was in his nature on an equal with God the Father. But he didn’t grasp or hold on to that place of dignity. He became a human and was born among us so he could be the merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God. He was Immanuel. He was God who became one of us and walked alongside us in this world. Even as a man he emptied himself, made himself of no reputation and took upon him the form of a servant being made in the likeness of man. As a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Because of his humble actions God has highly exalted him and given him a name above all names that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
It is amazing that Jesus was only going to be on this earth as a man for a little over 33 years, yet the first thirty of those years were spent in the activity of a very ordinary man. He learned carpentry from Joseph. He stayed home to help Mary with younger children after Joseph died. He lived in a way among the people that he fit in with them and even his own brothers and sisters didn’t recognize him as God in the flesh. The writer of Hebrews notes that he had in every way to be made like his brothers and sisters.
His mission of walking side by side with people could only be fulfilled if he lived among us as one of us knowing the trials, troubles, and temptations we face on a regular basis. He demonstrated his humanity to all. But he also came to show us the Father, John tells us. He was from the beginning God and without him, nothing was made that was made. God became a man but didn’t lose his deity in the process. “In him dwelt all the fullness of deity in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). He humanity made it possible for him to speak of the kingdom of heaven in terms that were clear to ordinary people who listened to him. He told stories that were out of the regular lives of the people and tied them to the kingdom of God.
In the process of it all, “He who knew no sin, became sin for us that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” He took our sins on him and then paid the price of our sin on the cross. At the same time, the righteousness of Christ was placed to our credit. The Son of God became the son of man that sons of men might become sons of God. He was and is the IMMANUEL. He is God with us all the time. The Christmas celebration is great that we can remember the birth of our savior. But the real celebration needs to run throughout the year on every day of the year. Jesus Christ never leaves or forsakes us. In giving his great commission according to Matthew he not only told us to make disciples for him as we go about the world. He told us to make them of every ethnic group there is, to baptize them into the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to observe all that he commands us. Then he offered the promise, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Savior who is with us now, will bring us home to heaven where we will live in his full presence forevermore.
Praise God for our Immanuel.