We hung the felt Christmas tree the day we decorated our real tree. “Can I decorate it now?” Our 3 year old kept asking. His felt tree has 25 felt ornaments. Each ornament has a Scripture on it that deals with Jesus and His birth. The idea is to start December 1, and put on one ornament each day leading up to Christmas. We read and talk about the verse, but then he can also re-arrange his felt ornaments as he plays (instead of rearranging our real ornaments).
December 1 rolled around and the first thing that Hunter wanted to do when he got up was decorate his tree. He chose an ornament, and the verse on it was Matthew 1:22-23, “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)” (ESV).
God with us. Those words resonated with me that morning.
Our biggest problem as humans is that we are separated from God. When God created man, they (Adam and Eve) lived in harmony with Him in the garden. There was no sin, so their fellowship with their Creator was perfect. That must’ve been wonderful. But then the fall happened and sin entered the world, and that changed everything. We could no longer be with God, because God is holy, and sin can’t be in His presence.
There’s nothing that we can do to fix this problem. Absolutely nothing. It all seems pretty hopeless until God begins revealing His plan of rescue and redemption in Genesis 3. Did you know that Jesus is prophesied about all the way back in the third chapter of the Bible? God tells the serpent in Genesis 3:15, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (ESV). That Offspring (or Seed) is none other than Jesus. From Genesis 3:15 forward, God is working His beautiful rescue plan to save the people that He created in His own image from their biggest problem, their sin.
The entire Old Testament points to the coming of the Seed who will save the people from their sin. Flip to the New Testament, and finally, Immanuel, God with us, had arrived. You see, the Christmas story is not just a sweet story about a cute baby and his parents, hanging out with some animals on a cold winter’s night (in fact, Jesus probably wasn’t born in the winter). The Christmas story is a beautiful part of God’s rescue plan that had been in action since man’s separation from Him. We cannot be with God because of our sin, so God came to be with us in order to reconcile us to Him.
Let’s take a moment and really process what all that means. God with us means that Jesus willingly left heaven to put on flesh. God with us means that Jesus chose to leave heaven knowing the cup that He would have to drink, His death on the cross, in order for people to be saved. The Baby in the manger is the Cornerstone to God’s rescue plan for us. The Baby in the manger took on flesh, lived a perfect life, died a brutal death on the cross, and then rose again three days later. He did this out of a deep love for us that we will never fully comprehend. He did this so that, if we accept His free gift of salvation, we can be reconciled to God Himself.
God with us means so much. It means everything. Because God came to be with us, we can now be with Him. Those who believe in Jesus’ work on the cross and His resurrection have eternal security. And the best part about this eternal security in heaven isn’t the streets of gold or that we’ll be free of struggles, but it’s that we will be with God, forever getting to know Him and worship Him. All because God came to be with us.
Friends, let the weight of Christmas hit you this year. When you think about it, Christmas is heavy. The fact that God took on flesh with the purpose of death to save us from our sins is a BIG deal. I can’t imagine the anticipation that those in the Old Testament lived with. Christmas is heavy, but it’s the weight of the Gospel that brings us freedom. Because of that Baby in the manger and all that it means, we are now free. Sin no longer has dominion over us. We live with Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Living with and for Christ is life-giving and freeing. Live this crazy Christmas season praising God for coming to be with us, and all that it means.
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel has come to thee, O Israel!”