“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23,ESV)
There are many comforting things about Christmas, but none more than this: God with us. But better still, he didn’t just come to visit. He came to stay. “I will be with you, to the end of the age,” he says (Matthew 28:20).
Yet fewer truths are less understood or more unrealized. Certainly no one has come further or been less welcome: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him (John 1:10–11, ESV).” He came to bring freedom and redemption to all and remains unloved by most, mocked by many.
Admittedly, this does seem a little far-fetched, that God came down to walk among us. But as amazing as it seems, it is true nonetheless. John 1:14 says, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” That may be the difference between the ones who receive it gladly and the ones who ignore it completely; the glad ones behold his glory. They see a gracious Sovereign, lifted up and worthy of praise.
I used to be mostly glad for his grace, which is still over-whelming. But more and more I am awed by the Shekinah glory, eternal and majestic, reaching across time and space, transforming and healing, reconciling all things to himself. Including me. Nothing Is greater than this, or more real than Jesus himself, who is
“the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.” (ESV)
This is truth sufficient for any trial or temptation. This same Jesus is on the throne of heaven. And he is with me. If one of my adult children struggles, if one of my students is overwhelmed with pandemic stress, if one of my friends is reeling from poor choices and addiction, if I’m proud or judgmental, if one of our church member is sick, if a young couple is having problems and breaking up—there is only one thing to know. God is with us.
This is more than enough. It comforts us and transforms us, as we ourselves are changed from glory to glory ( 2 Corinthians 3:18). Not only is he with us, but we are becoming like him, reflecting his radiance. The resources of heaven are at our disposal as Jesus reaches across all barriers to draw us into his beauty and his righteousness, forgiving us on the basis of his sacrifice and strengthening us with his Spirit.
This is the truest gift and greatest treasure, “that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15, ESV)
Hallelujah. He is with us.
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Thank you for your encouraging words as we start this advent season Pastor Wally.