This Christmas morning I want you to consider Jesus Christ whose birth we’re celebrating today. Now there are many things that I could ask you to consider, for example what it means that an angel spoke to Jesus’ parents, or what it means that he was born of a virgin, or what it means that the king of the world was born into poverty, or what it means that Magi visited him, or what it means that angels proclaimed his birth to shepherds. There are so many exciting and interesting aspects of Jesus’ birth that it is really quite difficult to choose just one.
But this morning I have to do just that and so I want to speak about one of the names given to Jesus, ‘Immanuel’. Matthew tells us that Jesus’ birth fulfils an old prophecy: ‘All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”–which means, “God with us”‘ (Matthew 1:22-23). But what does it mean that Jesus is called ‘Immanuel’ which means literally, ‘God with us’.
‘Immanuel’ means God himself came and took on a human body and lived on this earth among people. This is amazing. The one who has existed eternally, has all power, has all knowledge and who made all things – became a living, breathing human being. And what is more amazing is not just that God became a creature that he had made, but he took on the flesh of a race of creatures that is corrupt and sinful. We might be able to consider more easily what ‘Immanuel’ means if it meant that God became a creature of a race that had never sinned and always lived in perfect purity. But instead ‘Immanuel’ means that in Jesus God took on the flesh of a race of creatures that have committed evil acts again and again throughout every generation – evil acts against themselves, one another and even against their Almighty Maker. So when we hear the name ‘Immanuel’ we should be simply and utterly astonished at what it means.
But why would God himself become part of a race that has rebelled against him? God did it so that he could redeem sinful humans to himself. How? By Jesus’ death at the cross, Immanuel took our sin upon his shoulders so that if you repent of your sin and believe in his death for you, you do not have to pay for your sin. Is there no greater truth than that?
The question is, have you accepted the glorious treasure of ‘Immanuel’ for yourself through repentance and faith?