Christmas has me thinking about Jesus!
That shouldn’t be a surprise, but in the midst of all the parties, shopping, baking and other preparation this time of year demands, somehow thinking about Jesus is a bit of a challenge. Now don’t get me wrong, baking and party going, shopping and decorating can all be God-honoring and relationship building. They can be good things, but if we are honest, they can also be distractions (and sometimes downright burdensome.)
I hope some of these thoughts about Jesus will refresh you and help you focus on him.
Jesus is “God with us.” In Matthew 1:23 when the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, he quoted Isaiah 7:14, telling Joseph that Mary would bear a son whose name would be Immanuel, which means “God with us.” There are some deep things we learn about Jesus from this name.
Jesus is God, yet he humbled himself to be “with us.” How does Jesus humble himself? Think of the humility it took to become a human. The baby in the manger was God. He lived through the indignity of a birth in a stable. He humbled himself to be a toddler. He lived as a child within a family and allowed himself to be parented. As a twelve-year-old teaching in the temple, he was aware of his relationship to God the Father, and yet he remained humbly in a family until he was 30 and his ministry began. Imagine the humility it took to be a teen and a young adult and not make your divinity known!
Jesus is also “with us” in the sense that he fully understands us. There isn’t any circumstance of life that Jesus doesn’t understand, including temptation. Hebrews 2:10-18 reminds us that Jesus calls us “brother.” At least part of that brotherhood means, “because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Jesus is “with you” in every temptation with both compassion and power to resist sin.
Hebrews goes even deeper when it tells us Jesus was made like his brothers “in every respect.” He is like us so that he could share and understand our life experiences. “With us,” Jesus faced trials, difficulties, challenges, and opposition. He lived through betrayal by friends. He experienced excruciating physical and emotional pain. He endured misunderstanding. He was tempted.
Jesus was not “with us” in one thing. While he shared fully in all the difficulties of our humanity and even our temptations, he did not sin. Because he did not sin, we can look at his life and know how to live; but more than that, because he did not share in our sin, he is uniquely qualified to be “with us” as our substitute.
Hebrews 2:17 again reminds us that, “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Jesus was “with us” in the ultimate sense as he took our place, paying for our sin. This was the best Immanuel “God with us” act ever! By paying the penalty of our sin, he opened a permanent relationship with God to all who embrace his sacrifice by putting their faith in him.
Jesus came as “God with us.” He lived a fully human life “with us.” He identified “with us” in his sin-defeating death!
“God with us” makes “us with God” possible!
Immanuel, “God with us.”
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