I would like our meditation this month to lead us back, by faith, to Bethlehem, and in the company of the shepherd’s, gaze upon the one wrapped in swaddling bands and lying in a manger who was to be called Immanuel, God with us.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
This Old Testament prophecy finds it’s fulfillment in the New Testament with the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, confirmed in these words from the Gospel of Matthew.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us’” (Matthew 1:22-23).
Should we not bow low before this baby who was God incarnate? God took on human flesh and became man to be with us in our nature. He walked where we walk. He was tempted like we are tempted. He knew the pain of hunger and thirst. He also knew the ache of loneliness. He knew the hurt of being betrayed and denied by two who knew Him best. On top of all of that, this “Immanuel” who was perfect in every way and knew no sin, became sin for us.
“God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Our Lord Jesus, from before the foundation of the world, desired so much to be with us, so that He could do for us what we could never have done for ourselves.
He took our condemnation.
He took our punishment.
He took our beating.
He took our scourging.
He took our crown of thorns.
He took our nine-inch nails.
He took our cross.
He took our grave.
Being with us meant he was going to have to take what we deserved, which included drinking the full cup of God’s wrath, and he did it all because of the joy set before him…YOU & ME! I want you to know this one simple truth this Christmas season: Immanuel is with you, right now, right where this finds you.
- Lonely in your singleness, Jesus is with you!
- Struggles in your school life, Jesus is with you!
- Challenges in your marriage, Jesus is with you!
- Difficulties at the office, Jesus is with you!
- Prodigal children, Jesus is with you!
- Fractured friendship, Jesus is with you!
- Financial fall-out, Jesus is with you!
- Sickness and disease, Jesus is with you!
Experience has taught me that God will use difficulties in life as the means to reacquaint us with fresh realities of his grace. Perhaps you are remembering someone close to you who has passed through the valley of the shadow of death, and this time of year brings back painful memories of great loss. It was Christmas day 1995 around 4 p.m., just as we were sitting down to dinner, when we received the call from the Veteran’s Hospital in Miami that my father had taken his last breath. Kim and I had gone to see him that morning, and in only a few short hours, he was gone into glory to be with Jesus.
The only thing that got us through was in knowing that Jesus was with us. Immanuel was with us in our pain. Immanuel was with us in our sorrow. Immanuel was with us while we were in our valley of the shadow and walked with us every step of the way. It is my prayer that this name of our Lord, Immanuel, God with us, would be a source of great comfort and joy to you this Christmas season, whether it is the most wonderful time of the year or a time mixed with great pain.
Now, there is one more thing I want you to remember. As our Lord Jesus Christ is with you, you are also with Him. You are with Him in His victory over sin. You are with Him in His victory over Satan. You are with Him in His victory over death and the grave. And one day, you will be with Him in His new heavens and new earth, that special place where there will be no more crying, mourning, pain, or death for the old order of things will have passed away.
I am praying a very merry Christmas to you and yours. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Because He is born to you, He is with you now and will be with you forever more.
This is the gospel. This is grace for your race. Never forget that… Amen!
Tommy Boland is senior pastor of Cross Community Church in Deerfield Beach. He blogs regularly at tommyboland.com .