Summary: What really is it about God becoming man that is so momentous for you and me today? Let me share with you three ways in which I think that the coming of Emmanuel bears such great connotations for you and me today.
Over the past several months I have come to realize a great appreciation for the miracle of birth. As Cora was going through her time of pregnancy I don’t know how many times the amazement hit me that she actually was carrying a human being inside of her. That was no potbelly. It was no unusual swelling of her stomach. A little girl was being formed inside of her womb. It’s incredible.
And then came the time for us to make our way to Methodist Medical Center. And as I stood there and as I held Cora’s hand I witnessed the birth of a child. And not just any child, but it was our child; the child that we had brought into existence. We had a part in creating life. I stand in awe, this morning, of the miracle of child birth. It’s no wonder that birthdays are such a big event for most of us. Aside from the cake and the parties and the presents, birthdays are a time for celebrating life. Birthdays are a time for commemorating the day that we found our spot among the throngs of the human race. They’re a time for celebrating the miracle of birth.
Likewise Christmas is a time for commemorating the day that Jesus was born. The question I have is why is His birthday so important? Why do we take time off work and time off of school and play special music and get together with family to celebrate the birthday of a man who lived 2000 years ago?
I mean, how often do we do that? Sure, we get together with our family or our friends to celebrate with them when they turn a year older. We may throw a huge party when someone hits sweet 16 or the magic number of 18 or the big 4-0. We may even visit the final resting place of loved ones on the day that would have been their birthday. But to make it a holiday? To make such a big deal of someone else’s birthday every year? The only time we do that is on Christmas. So why is it such an important day? Why is the birthday of this Jesus guy so significant?
We could sit here and philosophize for hours on this topic and probably answer the question fairly well. But I think the best answer for the question of Christmas’ significance can be found in one simple verse in the first book of the New Testament. Matt. 1:23 gives what I believe to be the whole reason celebrating Christ’s birthday is so important, why it has become such a big day to the entire world. Listen to these words and see if you can catch the significance of Christmas. Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, "God with us."
Did you catch those words, “God with us?” Have you ever really thought about that? It’s so easy to say… Emmanuel; God with us and sing the songs. We talk about it all the time, but do we really understand the significance of that? Do we really understand the depth of what we mean when we say that?
If not, I want us to take some time to think about it today. The angel said “They shall call His name, Jesus’ name, Emmanuel, which is translated, “God with us.” What does that mean? It simply means this… God became man.
Many would like to disregard Jesus as simply a good teacher or a prophet. Many people credit Him with goodness and great character. But they cannot and will not accept the fact that He was so much more than that. They say, "I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God."
But as CS Lewis wrote in his book, Mere Christianity, “That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”