He Will be called ‘Immanuel’ (Thursday, December 24, 2020)

Matthew 1:18-25

Dearly Beloved,

In Jesus Christ, love found a form. In Jesus, love became something concrete. At Christmas, love was made flesh. Jesus is the unexpected, miraculous God with-us who saves us from our sins. He is the reason we have Christmas and celebrate it. Today being Christmas Eve, share with me your hope for salvation according to Matthew 1:18-25, on the theme, He Will Be Called ‘Immanuel’.

The angel says that Jesus’ name is Immanuel, which means God-with-us, or with-us -God. It means that Jesus is God with us as He swims in Mary’s womb, wiggles in the manger’s straw, feeds the hungry and heals the sick. Jesus is God-with-us as He takes the bread in His hands and says, “This is my body broken for you.” Jesus is God-with-us as He hangs from a cross, gasping for breath and shouting, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He descends into our messy world, standing in solidarity with human sufferers, plunging ever deeper into our pain and apparent abandonment.

Back then, the Greek philosophers could not have thought about God taking on a body. One of them sarcastically asked, “How can one admit that God should become an embryo, that after His birth He is put in swaddling clothes, that he is soiled with blood and bile and worse things yet.” Even today, people are still struggling with this truth. An Islamic scholar says that he cannot comprehend that God would become small, tiny, and weak. Another scholar, says that although Muslims have a “great tenderness for Jesus” and they find the nativity story miraculous, they still see the incarnation as simply an impossible concept.

But, here we see that Jesus is God-with-us. He is God coming to us first as a fetus, then an unplanned pregnancy by human concept but eternally planned by God, then a baby, and later a twelve-year-old boy, and then as a teacher, and then a condemned criminal stripped naked on the cross, and then as the risen and ascended Lord. “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.” (Hebrews 2:17) The point is this that god Himself has felt what we feel. In the incarnation, He chose not to stay completely Other. He got down at eye-level, and in incarnation, God experienced what it is like to tired and discouraged. He knows what it is like to be hurt and bleed. On the cross, Jesus Himself prayed a prayer of lament: My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me? (Ps. 22:1)

In your pain, you may be tempted to think and say that God has no idea of how badly you are hurting. But He can respond that He knows, pointing you to your wounds and then to His own. Jesus entered our world. He knows how we feel. He is with us now. He cares and can help us. He came to save us from our sins—to put our lives in order! He does not demand that we first straighten our mess but offers to clean them up for us. This is what Christmas is all about! God-with-us to save us from our sins.

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, in you we have the solution to our sin problem. You came and lived a perfect life for us and went to the cross and bore our sins. Thank you, the solution to our problem. Amen.

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