If you were to come over to my house around Christmas time, you would notice a number of fairly large and wrapped gift boxes sitting near the front door of our home. These gloriously decorated boxes have all of the color of Christmas. They have all of the glitter and shine associated with the most materialistic holiday of the season. They are even all tied up with great big bows.
There is only one problem with the boxes in front of my house, though. They are empty. If anyone were to come and take them when we weren’t looking, they would be taking nothing more than prettified nothingness. The packages contain the fanfare and all of the ceremonial aspects of Christmas, but have no meaning or value inside.
In many ways these packages reflect and represent a lot of Christians today. They dress to the nines in the Christian paraphernalia of our culture. They carry a Bible underneath their arm, attend church, teach Sunday School and all else. Yet, if we were to peal back the paper, tape and bows, oftentimes we would not be able to locate the vibrant, life-giving and abundant life of Jesus Christ within. Without Jesus, Christianity is just another religion among many. After all, He is the very essence of God who came not only to take away the sins of the world, but to reveal the Father to us in the flesh.
In the record of His birth, we read,
“’She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” (Matthew 1:21-23)
The essence of this passage and event in history is not merely that a baby was born. The essence is that God became a baby. God was in the crib. We read about this in the prophecy found in Isaiah, “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us ….” (Isaiah 9:6) Keep in mind that the child is born, but the Son is given. This is because the Son existed before the child was born. The virgin gave birth to a child but the child that the virgin birthed existed before the virgin ever got pregnant. Therefore, the Son was given, not born.
In the book of Hebrews we are privy to a conversation between God, the Father and Christ, the Son. In it, they talk about Christ coming to earth in the form of a man to do the Father’s will, “Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, ‘Sacrifice and offering You have not desired, but a body You have prepared for Me; in whole burnt offering and sacrifices for sin You have taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the scroll of the book it is written of Me) to do Your will, O God.’” (Hebrews 10:5-7)
Not only did Jesus come to do the Father’s will, but He came to represent God, the Father, so that we would know what it is like to have God with us, as the name Immanuel defines. In Colossians, we read, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God ….” (Colossians 1:15) In Hebrews, “And He (Jesus) is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature ….” (Hebrews 1:3) And in John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God …. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us …. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.” (John 1:1, 14, 18)
Jesus Christ is Immanuel: God with us.