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December 23

Scripture Reading

Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Reflection

Immanuel. God with us. From creation, this was the plan. In Genesis, Adam and Eve enjoyed fellowship with God. In Revelation, when God restores all things, this is again in view: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man” (21:3).


But, oh, we don’t deserve to be included in the loving fellowship that the Trinity enjoys. We have decided, like our forefathers Adam and Eve, to taste the fruit of what the world has to offer, preferring it instead of the sweet communion with God that we were created for. Each of us has turned to our own way. Most people never regret going their own way, but for those whom the Holy Spirit calls, who come to their senses like the wayward son in Luke 15, there is a desire to repent. God’s children have an earnest longing to find the way back to fellowship with God. The problem is, we can’t.


Our only hope is that God would come to us. That God would come running to rescue us like the Luke 15 father. Since the Genesis version of “God with us” was destroyed by our “Us before God” pursuit, restoration must happen before we can enjoy the Revelation reality of “God with us.”


And God rescues and restores in a manner more magnificent than man could fathom. He saves in the form of a God-man, the eternal Word becoming flesh so that God, again by his own initiative, could be with us. Immanuel. Born of a virgin in the fulness of time prophesied centuries before. Immanuel. God’s gift so that no man can boast. Immanuel.


We would have never conceived of this salvation, this glorious gospel in which God is perfectly holy and just and merciful and loving! Jesus can save because he is God. And Jesus can save because he is man. He intercedes in the way we never could, living a sinless life to fulfill all righteousness and dying a sacrificial death on the cross. His death was necessary because the day we ate of the fruit, we brought death upon ourselves, not just physical death, but eternal separation from fellowship with God. Jesus died this death in our place, and Jesus rose from the dead to show that he is indeed Yeshua, the one who saves his people from their sins.

Immanuel. God with us.


To take hold of this gift, we must believe and trust in Jesus alone. Joseph believed the Word of God, and his faith led to obedience. Let us embrace Immanuel in this season and in all seasons unto eternity.





Notes

Song: Immanuel, Michael Card.

Scripture quotations are from the ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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