Immanuel – God With Us! (12/24)
Mark Barbee

Isaiah prophesied of Christ 700 years before his birth: “The Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel” Isaiah 7:14.  Matthew repeats this prophecy in his narrative of Christ’s birth (1:23).  He also translates the Hebrew word: Immanu- with us, and El for God; God with us!  Because of a virgin birth, God would come into human flesh (the Incarnation).  By the way, an ordinary birth to an ordinary young woman would not have been a sign!  She had to be a virgin.  A virgin birth is a wondrous miracle- the only one in history!  And Christ had to be fully man and fully God!

So there is the miraculous side of the sign, but there is also the wondrous promise—God with us, never to fail or forsake us!  Does that mean life here will always be easy?  No, but it is bearable and even victorious when we know that Jesus is God with us.  We also know that when we open our hearts to him, he becomes God in us!  Later, Paul writes in Colossians that “Christ in you is the hope of glory” 1:27.  By the way, the baby in the manger is just scratching the surface of who Christ is.  Paul also writes that “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him!  He is before all things and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:15).  Wow, what a mouthful!

But let’s bring it home.  No matter what your circumstances, Covid or no Covid, God is with you!  Invite him in to every situation.  You will be amazed at the doors he opens for you.  So let’s focus on Jesus above all this Christmas.

Speaking of signs, just a few days ago was a conjunction of our solar system’s two largest planets, Jupiter and Saturn.  That only happens every several hundred years and astronomers tell us that it happened around the time of Christ’s birth.  Whether or not that was the “Christmas star” it makes sense that God would use all creation to announce his Son’s birth.

God, thank you for the sign of the virgin birth.  For those in Israel who were paying attention, it was a miraculous fulfillment of a miraculous prophecy.  Lord, continue to teach us through the events of the first Christmas.  Remind us that hope came into the world and into our lives.  Thank you for Christmas becoming reality to us when we accept Christ and he is born in our hearts.  Lord, there are many discouraged people right now, so we pray that the light and hope of Christmas will cheer them and comfort them, especially those who are isolated.  

Lord, we thank you for family times and celebrations.  Let us use these opportunities to remind everyone of the true meaning of the Savior’s birth.  The other things are fine, but they are not the essence of “God with us”.  You are Immanuel and we praise you!

O come, O come Emmanuel

And Ransom captive Israel

That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel has come to thee O Israel!

O come thou Dayspring, come and cheer

Our spirits by thine advent here

Disperse the gloomy clouds of night

And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel has come to thee O Israel!

O come Desire of nations, bind in one the hearts of all mankind.

Bid thou our sad divisions cease, and be Thyself our King of peace.

Rejoice, rejoice; Emmanuel shall come to thee O Israel!