“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” is a popular Christmas carol sung during the holiday season. One of the lines in the second verse says in reference to the birth of Jesus, “Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Emmanuel.”
The Gospel of Matthew further elaborates on Jesus our Emmanuel by quoting from the Book of Isaiah: “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” (Matt. 1:23).
Emmanuel: God with us. People around the world are following various paths hoping to find a way to their god. But we don’t have to search for our God or to strive to reach Him. He came to us! And not only did God come to the earth to dwell with us, but if we have made Jesus our Lord and Savior, now God also dwells in us (John 14:23).
This relationship with God is possible because of the Cross of Calvary. God built a bridge whereby mankind can pass from death unto life. We don’t have to do good works to try to earn our way to the throne of God. It’s a free gift of grace that we accept through faith.
When renowned theologian Martin Luther came to understand this truth, he started a religious revolution. During his time, it was common for monks to perform painful penance. But one day as Luther crawled on his hands and knees up a set of steps in front of one of Rome’s religious buildings, offering a prayer at each step, he had a revelation of God’s Word.
It is thought by some that Martin Luther had just transcribed Romans 1:17, “…The just shall live by faith.” As Luther climbed those steps, that verse suddenly came alive to him. He went on to challenge the papal authority and begin the Protestant Reformation.
God never intended for us to buy or earn our way into Heaven. Jesus our Emmanuel was born in Bethlehem so we could receive God’s free gift of salvation.
Because of Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden, mankind in and of himself could never escape the clutches of death that sin brought. But Jesus came to lead us out of sin and into salvation.
This month we celebrate the birth of Jesus. But you cannot separate His birth from the Cross, grave, and Resurrection. They all go together. Jesus was born as a man and lived as a man. But He died as the Lamb of God’the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world! In December we celebrate Jesus’ beginning, but in a few months we’ll celebrate His victorious finish!
Too many people still think of Jesus as a baby in the manger. They even say, “I like ‘baby Jesus’ better.” That’s because baby Jesus doesn’t convict them of sin. It’s the Emmanuel who died on the Cross who convicts people of their sin. It’s Jesus Who rose from the grave who causes people to realize their need for a Savior.
In order to reconcile us with God, Jesus could not stay in the manger. He did not come to the earth to remain as an infant. He came to die on a cross. He came so we might be set free from the chains of sin.
Jesus boldly proclaimed, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus is your way out! He is the answer out of your problem, the answer out of your trouble, the answer out of your poverty, the answer out of your depression. Jesus is your answer out of everything!
Jesus was born as a man and lived on the earth as “God with us.” He was tempted in every way as we are but was without sin. He offered His life and died on a cross so we would not remain separated from God. Jesus is the only One Who can offer eternal life to mankind.
Christmas is the time to remember that Emmanuel came and dwelt among us so He could lead us to salvation. This season, as we enjoy our family and friends, let’s remember the best gift that was given to us – God’s very own Son, the Savior of mankind.
Jesus is our Emmanuel – God with us. Merry Christmas!