The Gift of Immanuel
Read Matthew 2:10-12
"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. And being warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their own country by another way."
What is the gift of Immanuel?
The Christmas season feels a lot different the older you get. At what age do the days start feeling normal length again? When do the weeks start flying by instead lasting an eternity? Christmas lists become more practical with age. Instead of action figures and deluxe dream doll houses, we ask for money so we can buy what we need. Is it possible to find the magic and wonderment of Christmas again? Let's go back to the beginning.
Why a baby? Why did Jesus, God in the flesh, the Messiah, the forgiver of our sins, the King of kings and Lord of lords--why did He come as a baby? Why not announce Jesus with a booming voice from the sky declaring "Behold! The Messiah, the redeemer of mankind!" and then have Jesus float down from heaven? Why not just appear one day out of the desert healing those He came across? Why a baby? Why live through 30 years--which we know next to nothing about--before starting to preach?
During His adult ministry Jesus had a conversation with a man named Nicodemus where the subject of birth came up. Jesus told him, "I assure you, unless you are born again, you can never see the Kingdom of God....The truth is, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. Humans can reproduce only human life, but the Holy Spirit gives new life from heaven" (John 3:3,5, NLT).
In another place we see proud parents bringing their children to Jesus so He could say a prayer for them. When the disciples tried to keep them away Jesus told them, "Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these" (Matthew 19:14, NLT).
We're used to thinking of Jesus' adult life as an example for us to follow--"What would Jesus do?" But His entire life, from birth to death to resurrection, give us our example. As Christ entered our world as a human baby, we enter His world as a spiritual infant. As Christ grew in physical maturity, we mature spiritually as we come to know and love the Father. And as Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins, we are asked to take up our cross daily and put to death our selfish impulses.
God has not left us to stumble blindly through this world attempting to find heaven, He's given us an example to follow. And the first step is accepting the greatest Christmas gift ever given, the infant Immanuel which means, "God with us.
Lord Jesus, thank You for the example You have given us and the wonderful reminder that a relationship with You is possible. Amen.