Immanuel: God With Us

Dr. Ray Pritchard
Dr. Ray Pritchard
2016 25 Dec

"Peruvian Nativity: God Is With Us" by Marcia Carole

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” (Matthew 1:22-23).

God with us.

Jesus has come to earth, the Almighty has entered our world, the infinite has become finite, the eternal has invaded time. Theologians call it the Incarnation–God in human flesh. The Bible calls him Immanuel–God with us.

His birth differs from every other birth in that he voluntarily came in obedience to the Father’s will. That could not be said of you or me. We were born, but we had no choice in the matter. I am here by the choices made by my parents. But Jesus “came” according to the plan of God. “When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son”(Galatians 4:4). Every detail was minutely planned in the courts of heaven. Nothing happened by chance.

He came from the light into the darkness.
He came from splendor into squalor.
He came from purity into a world of sin.
But still he came!

A generation ago C. S. Lewis put this doctrine in its proper perspective:

The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this.

Sometimes we focus on peripheral questions that distract us from the core issues. We believe God became a man. This is the central truth of our faith. Christians cannot speak about God without speaking about Jesus because God became a man 2000 years ago. As Lewis says, every other miracle leads to the Incarnation or results from it.

We started this Advent journey amid the wreckage of Eden, as Eve received the first promise of the coming Messiah. Abraham "saw" this day, Moses pointed to it, Balaam predicted it, Rahab showed the forgiveness it brings, Malachi helped us discover the gospel power of Jesus' coming, John the Baptist leaped for joy in Elizabeth's womb, Herod tried to kill Christmas, the Magi proved they were truly wise men, and Mary and Joseph believed in God when it surely seemed impossible.

None of this happened by accident. It was all part of God's plan from the beginning.

One truth stands at the center of our faith: God has come down to us in the person of Jesus. Now we know what God is like for the Son of Man has made him plain to us.

How far is God willing to go to save you?

He’s willing to leave the glories of heaven.
He’s willing to be carried in a virgin’s womb.
He’s willing to be born in a stable and wrapped in rags.
He’s willing to be ignored by the world.
He’s willing to become just like you.
He’s willing to shed his blood for you.

How far is God willing to go? You can’t even imagine the answer to that question. There is no pit so deep that the love of God is not deeper still. At Christmastime, we do not celebrate the birth of some aloof God who stands afar off. No, we celebrate the birth of Immanuel—God with us.

How far is God willing to go? Whatever pit you’re in, God is willing to enter that pit and meet you there. That’s what he did 2000 years ago.

God sent a gift wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Jesus is God’s Christmas gift to you.

Merry Christmas!
The happy day is here at last.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

Heavenly Father, make my heart a manger where the Christ child can be born. Amen.

Musical bonus: Let’s bring our Advent journey to a triumphant conclusion with this performance of Joy to the World by Celtic Woman.

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