“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Before the birth of Messiah Jesus, we were separated from God. Emmanuel — God with us — brought us near. These are tidings of GREAT JOY!
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people,” an angel of the Lord told the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 ESV).
And, thus, the Gospel was proclaimed. Euangelizomai, the Good News in action — Christ has come! GOD WITH US is cause for GREAT JOY — in the language of the New Testament — megalen charan. The root mega means exactly what you think — “big, exceedingly great.” Charan means “to rejoice,” “the cause or matter of joy or rejoicing.”
God the Son’s arrival in human form is cause for exceedingly great rejoicing, joy overflowing, for the Savior of the world changed absolutely everything!God the Son's arrival in human form is cause for exceedingly great rejoicing, joy overflowing, for the Savior of the world changed absolutely everything! Click To Tweet
God the Son lived with us, bled with us, experienced human losses, pains, trials, and every life event that both devastates us and brings us gladness. And then, he died for us and rose from the dead.
“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25 NIV).
We now have a constant sympathetic and empathetic Friend, who is with us in every moment of every day and every night. He never leaves us. This is why we celebrate him on this day. The fact that God is now with us is cause for abundant rejoicing!We now have a constant sympathetic and empathetic Friend, who is with us in every moment of every day and every night. He never leaves us. This is why we celebrate him on this day. Click To Tweet
Before the foundation of the world, God already knew us. His plan was already in place (Isaiah 49:1-13). He envisioned how he would pursue us and draw us into his loving arms. Adoption requires time, effort, and patience. Tenderly, he captivated us with his lovingkindness.
His love is irresistible. Our hearts were moved. We turned from our sinful ways and entrusted ourselves to him. “When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13b-14 NIV).
For God so loved the world, that he sent his Son to be with us, to die for us, to claim us as his own. “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5b), encouraging, convicting, and comforting us, yet more evidence of Christ with us. One day we’ll see him face to face. Thanks and praise be to Emmanuel!
We are his, and he is ours.
“So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy [which we have in Emmanuel], complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:1-4 ESV).
Emmanuel, God with us, the One and Only, laid down his life throughout his entire time on earth. The loving selflessness of the Savior is the reason most of the world pauses to consider his life and its purpose today. He set the model for our service, emptying himself entirely so that he might gain us.Emmanuel, God with us, laid down his life throughout his entire time on earth. The loving selflessness of the Savior is the reason most of the world pauses to consider his life and its purpose today. Click To Tweet
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV).
He modeled the ultimate sacrifice, loving the beloved even to the point of death. He showed us how to love. Emmanuel changed the world and everything humanity believed about death. In Christ life everlasting begins now. The kingdom of God is now. It is Emmanuel’s domain.
Jesus said to [Martha], “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV). Her answer is also ours, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (John 11:27b NIV).
God the Son is with us, and he is faithful, causes for overflowing joy!
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11 ESV).
At the end of this trying year, we approach our celebrations with trepidation and caution, wearing masks and praying for safety for loved ones. We are weary. We are worn.
How can we navigate the end of this difficult year and into the next?
Knowing that simple words are needed in trying times, the Lord gave us the following instructions. These words were written to the believers in Thessalonica during trouble and affliction. They were given instructions that provided tools for whatever came next. These words are for us as well.
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 ESV).
Our cause for extravagant rejoicing for God himself is with us! In every trial, the Lord never abandons us, nor forsakes us. The Lord is near. We can speak to him and receive his comfort in any and every moment. We thank him for all he has carried us through this past year. In even our isolation, we are blessed by his continual presence.
Pray without ceasing.
To pray without ceasing means to be aware of the nearness of God in every circumstance and event. God is with us even as we sleep. We are never abandoned. We talk to him throughout the day, as we would to our dearest Friend, which he is. We soften our hearts, aware of his precious fellowship.
Give thanks in all circumstances.
Give thanks to the Lord in the midst of any and every circumstance, not because of it, but in it. We thank God as he carries us through whatever comes our way. We thank him for being here with us and for promising to orchestrate good from each and every circumstance, for we are his beloved.
Do not quench the Spirit.
We don’t throw water on the fire of the Spirit’s urging. We don’t extinguish his conviction that presses into our hearts when we do wrong. Instead, we listen, follow his leading, turn back in repentance, and heed his words.
Because of what Emmanuel has done for us, we have the presence of his Spirit to help us to follow these simple instructions. May we be mindful.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV).
Emmanuel! God is with us! These are tidings of GREAT JOY for ALL people!