They Shall Call His Name Immanuel

“But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:20–23, ESV)

Immanuel! God with us! That’s the whole thing, folks — the Bible, our faith, our salvation — they all hang on that singular phrase. And if it is a lie, then we’ve been duped… and duped big! But if it is the truth, and there is indeed a light that is shining to all people, then any who ignore this light are perishing.

Not too Christmassy, huh? Saying that people are perishing? Some might dismiss such talk as being the fruit of a sour worldview. But let us review an important fact. A worldview creates no reality. It is an interpretation of reality. Believers see the world through the lens of Christ, and non-believers see it through the matrix of sin. So worldview is subjective. God-view, however, is absolute, and he shares his view at the very beginning of the New Testament. Here, God gives us his interpretation of the empirical. God with us. Even the infant Christ was every bit God... yet every bit human.

We understand God to be all-powerful and infinitely smarter than we. So, there was a reason that he veiled his glory in human flesh and took on the full measure of humanity with nothing lacking. He experienced love, joy and sadness just as we do — even death! We also understand that everything that God does, he does perfectly. So, when we humans are disappointed, this is not God’s fault. For example, Jesus’ contemporaries were disappointed in his ministry. They expected that a Messiah would exalt their nation and free them from Roman tyranny. No one understood that he must first suffer and die. The result? Although Jesus taught and prophesied with the very voice of God, and although he raised the dead and healed the sick by the very hand of God, the religious establishment did not accept this adult Jesus as God any more than many do the baby Jesus. Thankfully, the opinions of the lost cannot affect the reality of God, and therefore only one question matters. Did God lie? Or did he say truly, “God with us.”

Satan would love you to believe that Jesus was a “great man.” Even humanists call him the consummate teacher, a good-deed-doer and lover-of-people. Satan just loves it when the world lifts up Jesus as a gentle moralist who walked softly on this earth — but one who met a tragic end. In fact, he has no problem with the idea that Jesus was one of the greatest men to ever walk the earth — and hey… I agree! But Satan wants it to stop right there, so he whispers, “All this talk of a baby being deity… why that’s silly Christian superstition, right? After all, Jesus is gone, just like all the other prophets. Besides, there has to be more than one path to heaven…” That whisper is a lie, of course. God with us persists.

Without Jesus being born as Immanuel, Christianity would have been a mere choice among many religions—one which may or may not enhance your earthly journey — but one with a spongy eternal outcome. This is why Satan does not mind it when people dabble in the Christian culture as they love to do at Christmas time. Why? Because Satan wants you lost! And the culture of Christianity saves no one. It is the person of Christianity who saves, Jesus Christ. Therefore, Satan will use any means to obfuscate the simple truth, God with us. Is it any wonder why he works so tirelessly to dumb down Christmas?

Don’t get me wrong, I love having friends and family around the hearth, the extra affections of the season, the giving of presents and the sense of wellbeing. These are wonderful…but these shall perish. Do not perish with them. Christmas is God with us — Immanuel! See him clearly first. Do Christmas rightly, and then rejoice!

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