The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means “God with us”). Matt. 1:23 ESV
Recently Joshua and I drew permits to hunt quail and pheasant at Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge near Amarillo. When we got to the refuge we met with the rangers, and they gave us a general outline of the rules and where to go to find the most birds. After this brief orientation, they sent us out on our own. I was struck by the contrast; on our programs we guide people. We don’t just tell them where to go, but we take them there and provide support and instruction with them along the way. We are present with them and always doing what we can to help them succeed.
Near the beginning of his Gospel, Matthew cites a well known Old Testament prophecy. He tells his hearers that this Jesus, whom he calls rabbi and friend, is the promised Messiah who will be our Immanuel, God with us. This is the blessed promise of Christmas. Christmas reminds us that we have a God who is not far off. He is not the divine watch maker of the Deists, who set the universe into motion and walked away and dispassionately watches events unfold from afar. He is not a guide who tells us where to go and then leaves us to our own devices. When Jesus was born in that lowly manger 2,000 years ago, He forever changed the relational dynamic between God and Man. He is our Immanuel. Through His Holy Spirit, Christ accompanies us on our journey, lovingly leading, guiding and supporting us all the way.
This Christmas, wherever you find yourself, may you celebrate Immanuel. May you know that Christ is with you and Christ is for you. May this holy season usher you into a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him.