Summary: A pre Christmas preparation, and encouragement to see ’The Gift’ rather than the gifts!
EMMANUEL - The Gift
Christmas will soon be with us, and that thought can fill you with dread; or with excitement! The thought of all the wrappings that are now added on to the real Christmas is enough to make anyone feel a little dejected! The original idea of giving gifts to celebrate is still a wonderful idea, but now this has really gone overboard. The cost involved in the average home is enormous, and an element of competition has crept in – who can give the biggest, the most expensive, and the most attractive gift?
When we recognize the real meaning of Christmas it must fill us with delight; it is so wonderful to realise that God gave the Gift of His Son to a lost world. This is why we celebrate at this time.
I want us to think about the name given to our Saviour, both in prophesy by Isaiah, and as recorded by Matthew in his account of the Angel visiting Joseph – the name ‘Emmanuel’.
Isaiah 7:14 The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, GOD WITH US.
There are four thoughts I would like to leave with you for your further meditation, each centred around the glorious truth that Emmanuel has come – GOD WITH US; and He is with us not only at Christmas!
As we are nearing the time when we remember the birth of our Lord Jesus, we must start with the fact of GOD WITH US - IN THE FLESH.
GOD WITH US - IN THE FLESH
This truth is fundamental to everything else. It is such an amazing truth that Paul, who had so much revealed to him by the Lord, called it a mystery!
I Timothy 3:16 most certainly, the mystery of godliness is great: He was manifested in the flesh, [Holman]
I like the way the Contemporary English Version expresses the thought given in John 1:14
The Word became a human being and lived here with us. We saw his true glory, the glory of the only Son of the Father. From him all the kindness and all the truth of God have come down to us. [CEV]
The NIV gives it as
The Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. [NLT]
How amazing! This is The Word who was in the beginning, the One who spoke the creation into existence, and He became a human being, and made His home with us – the Creator making ‘his home among us’! What a gift! As we prepare to celebrate the ‘babe in the manger’, let us not forget ‘the submitting Sovereign’. Laying aside the glory He had with the Father – the worship of the adoring angelic host – the sublime sinless perfection of heaven - He came and dwelt among us ‘full of grace and truth’.
The Apostle Paul picks up this point and leads further, as he addresses the Philippians’
Philippians 2:8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death - even to death on a cross.
This points us on to the reason he was GOD WITH US - IN THE FLESH. He came this way to identify with us, and live a spotless life so that He could died for us and become GOD WITH US - AS REDEEMER
Oh EMMANUEL, we worship you.
GOD WITH US - AS REDEEMER
Because we were unable to save ourselves, He came to bring salvation to us, but at what a cost. Good works were marred by our sinful nature, so they would not do. Silver and gold, and all that it represents could not pay the price of our salvation; one soul is of more value that the total wealth of the whole world. Sin had to be dealt with by death! Here we have the death of the perfect substitute in our place. Our salvation was purchased with His blood. Let us not forget that this is a vital part of the true meaning of Christmas! What a gift. See how Peter expresses it,
I Peter 1:18-19 You must know that you were redeemed from the useless way of living inherited by tradition from your forefathers, not with corruptible things such as silver and gold, 19 But you were purchased with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a sacrificial lamb without blemish or spot. [Amp]