All month we are going to be exploring some common phrases you hear around Christmastime. Things like, “peace on earth,” or “the king is born,” or “the glory of God.” Today we’ll talk about “God with us,” or in Hebrew, Immanuel.
Fun Fact: I am so excited to see how each week comes together this month! Our worship and production teams have worked so hard to create some amazing moments, our Grace Kids and student ministry teams are crushing it, and the Christmas box team outdid themselves, not to mention the many other ministries who are stepping up big time to serve the people of Grace in these challenging times. Way to go, team!
Our memory verse for the month:
“I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior has been born!”
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.
God’s own son was going to be born to an ordinary human woman. This may not strike us as all that weird since we’re used to the idea. But try to imagine how crazy this would have seemed to Mary. The divine was about to enter into our world.
Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
On that one fateful night in the village of Bethlehem, God didn’t just come close to us, he became one of us. The child Immanuel was born.
Fun Fact: When the prophet Isaiah first spoke of the child named Immanuel, Jerusalem was facing the prospect of annihilation at the hands of the Assyrians. This prophecy was a promise that God was faithful to save. It means even more in the context of Jesus!
Have you ever thought about what it means that God became a baby?
The Creator of life became a helpless infant, completely dependent on his mother’s care for survival. The One who designed galaxies had to learn how to walk. How to talk.
Jesus Christ is fully God and fully man.
Fun Fact: I think about this time concept a lot. We can perhaps start to wrap our minds around how we experience God, but how does he experience us?!? If he’s not bound by time, he must at all moments be currently experiencing every moment of our lives. It’s enough to melt your brain!
In one of the Apostle Paul’s letters, he tries to describe what happened the moment Jesus Christ was born.
Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges…
The Son of God, full of divine power, infinite in knowledge, chose to give all that up in his radical love for humanity. He emptied himself because he knew that only by becoming one of us could he take our place on the cross and bear the penalty for our sin.
When we sing Immanuel in our songs this Christmas season - God with us - I want us to have a few mental images in our mind.
• I want us to picture God himself, the sustainer of life, taking his very first breath as a newborn. The same air, by the way, that every one of us breathes.
• When we see Immanuel in our Christmas decorations this year, let’s imagine the God of the universe developing his fine motor skills as a toddler.
• But most of all, when we think about the incarnation - God becoming a human - let’s think about what it means about his love for us.
Fun Fact: Because of the sheer volume of atoms in our biosphere, it is almost guaranteed that at some point in your life you breathed in an atom which was once breathed out by Jesus himself. Immanuel, indeed!
If you find yourself feeling alone in what you’re going through this Christmas season, remember: Immanuel. God is with us. God is with you!