Emmanuel

by Impact Church

Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Matthew 1:23

Ahhh, December. The month that retailers and kids of all ages wait for all year long is finally here,… And with it comes the official Christmas season – that glorious time on the calendar when we celebrate our Savior’s birth!

Let’s revisit Bethlehem again with the wide-eyed wonder of a Judean shepherd whose silent, starlit night was shocked by a heavenly choir. In the fullness of God’s timing, on that otherwise ordinary night over 2,000 years ago, God came down to earth. The Creator of the universe and all it contains – the Almighty Yahweh/Elohim of the Old Testament – penetrated the veil of eternity and allowed Himself to be confined to a robe of flesh, even a baby’s helpless frame, so He could prove His love for His creation.

The Incarnation,…the timeless, boundless, infinite God humbled Himself to the limitations of time, space and a natural body. How is that even possible?

How can the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is equal to Father God as part of the divine Trinity and was with Him from the beginning of time (Philippians 2:6, John 1:1), be born of a virgin maiden who had never been intimate with a man? And even if that’s possible, did Jesus have to lay aside His divinity to become like us? 

Theologians call this the “hypostatic union” – Jesus embodied both the natures of Deity and humanity. He was fully God and fully man. His natures are not mixed, but they are united without loss of separate identity. He was the God-man. Never been another like Him; never will be.

Think about it,… Jesus sometimes operated within the limitations of humanity and at other times in the power of His deity. As a man, he became hungry,…as God, He fed thousands with a couple of fish and a few pieces of bread. As a man, he asked for a drink of water,…as God, He walked on top of the stuff. As a man, he got tired,…as God, He could call armies of angels to His side at any moment. As a man, he bled and died,…as God, He got up out of the grave and took others with Him!

While we can’t wrap our finite minds around the incredible truths of the God-man, we’re not asked to understand it. Only to believe. But the lingering question down through the ages has been why,…Why would a holy, all-powerful, eternal God become “Emmanuel” and dwell with us lowly humans?

Enjoy this classic modern parable from radio legend Paul Harvey…

Now the man to whom I’m going to introduce you was not a scrooge, he was a kind, decent, mostly good man. Generous to his family, upright in his dealings with other men, but he just didn’t believe all that incarnation stuff which the churches proclaim at Christmas time. It just didn’t make sense, and he was too honest to pretend otherwise. He just couldn’t swallow the Jesus story about God coming to earth as a man.

“I’m truly sorry to distress you,” he told his wife, “but I’m not going with you to church this Christmas eve.” He said he’d feel like a hypocrite, that he’d much rather just stay at home, but that he would wait up for them. So he stayed and they went to the midnight service.

Shortly after the family drove away in the car, snow began to fall. He went to the window to watch the flurries getting heavier and heavier and then went back to his fireside chair and began to read his newspaper. Minutes later, he was startled by a thudding sound. Then another. And then another; sort of a thump or a thud. At first, he thought someone must be throwing snowballs against his living room window. But when he went to the front door to investigate, he found a flock of birds huddled miserably in the snow. They had been caught in the storm and in a desperate search for shelter, had tried to fly through his large landscape window.

Well, he couldn’t let the poor creatures lie there and freeze, so he remembered the barn where his children stabled their pony. That would provide a warm shelter if he could direct the birds to it. Quickly, he put on a coat and goulashes, tramped through the deepening snow to the barn.

He opened the doors wide and turned on a light. But the birds did not come in. He figured food would entice them in. So he hurried back to the house, fetched bread crumbs, sprinkled them on the snow making a trail the yellow lighted, wide open door to the stable. But to his dismay, the birds ignored the bread crumbs and continued to flop around helplessly in the snow. He tried catching them. He tried “shooing” them into the barn by walking around them waving his arms. Instead, they scattered in every direction except into the warm lighted barn.

Then he realized that they were afraid of him. To them, he reasoned, I am a strange and terrifying creature. If only I could let them know that they can trust me. That I’m not trying to hurt them, but to help them. But how? Because any move he made tended to frighten them, confuse them. They just would not follow. They would not be led, or “shooed” because they feared him.

“If only I could be a bird,” he thought to himself, “and mingle with them and speak their language. Then I could tell them not to be afraid. Then I could show them the way to the safe warm — (sudden recognition) — to the safe warm barn, but I would have to be one of them so they could see and hear, and understand.”

At that moment the church bells began to ring. The sound reached his ears above the sounds of the wind. He stood there listening to the bells, Adeste Fidelis. Listening to the bells pealing the glad tidings of Christmas. And he sank to his knees in the snow.

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