The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus’ Saving Impact Never Ends
In a “Peanuts” cartoon, Lucy throws up her hands and shrieks, “For months we looked forward to Christmas. We couldn’t wait til it came; now it’s all over.” I’m glad that the impact of Christ’s first advent is never over and shows us God’s great plan, power, and faithfulness. At the time of Jesus’ coming, few people were clinging hopefully to the Lord’s ancient promises. Many despaired that God had forgotten His promise in Genesis 3:15 that Messiah will crush Satan’s head and save us from our sins.
But the Lord did not forget, beloved. He remembered us in our trouble and weakness, for His steadfast love and compassion endures forever.1 When the set time came, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem us from the curse and to adopt us as God’s sons and daughters.2 You know the history. God’s Son came down and was Virgin-born. The angel announced that Jesus is the only Savior of sinners. It’s not a legend, myth, or fairy-tale. It’s history! You know that everything hangs on the Son of God living in our place, dying to pay our death penalty, and rising from the tomb for our justification, sanctification, and glorification. Christ the Lord is our only hope in this life and in the world to come!
His Name is Immanuel
The Lord’s prophet Isaiah foretold that Messiah would be named Immanuel, meaning “God is with us.”3 Matthew, the New Testament writer, tells how Jesus came to fulfill that prophecy. Christ was born in Bethlehem to rescue us from our sins, by His atoning death and resurrection.
There is a fountain filled with blood, Drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, Lose all our guilty stains.4
This year 2020 has been tough for many of us in the USA and worldwide. So I want to remind us of practical ways that Christ is present with His followers now as we stand near the end of one year and on the edge of a new one.
Jesus Carries Us
Deuteronomy 1:31 says: “The Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his child, all the way you went until you reached this place.” That was first true of the Old Testament Hebrews and it’s also true for us. The Lord loved them and powerfully rescued them from Egypt in the Exodus. And He reminds them and us not to be afraid, but to trust Him, regardless of what we see and feel.
The Lord is our gracious Father who adopts Christians into His family through Jesus, our Elder Brother. And because we are His sons and daughters, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts so that we can call on God as “Abba, Father,” and get His help in troubling times.5
Elisabeth Elliot said: “Worshiping the Lord is not an experience. It is an act and this takes discipline. We are to worship in spirit and in truth. Never mind the feelings. We are to be grateful to God in spite of them.” Are you able to do that? If not, ask the Holy Spirit to help you.
I love the Name of Jesus, Immanuel, Christ, the Lord;
Like fragrance on the breezes His Name abroad is poured.6
Jesus Treasures Us
Deuteronomy 32:11 says, “The Lord shield, leads, and cares for us. He guards us as the apple of His eye, like an eagle hovers over its young and spreads its wings to catch and carry them.” Apple in this verse means the pupil of the eye. So God says that He watches over, shelters, and protects Christ’s followers as the eyelids protect the pupil of our very delicate and valuable eyes. God wants us to feel 100% safe in Jesus. So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”7
Elisabeth Elliot said: “Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on God who has all things safely in His hands.” That’s our foremost need right now, casting all our anxiety, fear, and worry on Jesus because He cares for us.
O holy Christ of Bethlehem, Descend to us, we pray;
Cast out our sin, and enter in, Be born in us today.
We hear the Christmas angels, The great glad tidings tell;
O come to us, abide with us, Our Lord Immanuel.8
Prayer: Lord Jesus, we thank you that you are always near us, everywhere we go, whatever we do. Forgive us for taking you from granted. Forgive us for wandering from you and falling into sin again. Save us, heals us, counsel us, and deliver us from evil and the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
To be continued
Notes (various translations): 1 Psalm 136:23. 2 Gal 3:13; 4:4-5. 3 Isaiah 7:14. 4 From hymn by William Cowper. 5 Gal 4:6. 6 Excerpt from the hymn “I lay my sins on Jesus” by Horatius Bonar. 7 Heb 13:6. 8 Excerpt from the hymn “O Little Town of Bethlehem” by Phillips Brooks.