When was the last time you paused to consider why we even have Christmas? Not simply why do we celebrate Christmas, but why did Jesus come in the first place?
According to the angel’s words in Matthew 1, “you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Yeshua, which means “Yahweh saves.” As a reflection of the people’s desire for deliverance, plenty of boys in ancient Israel were named Jesus.
The angel also told Joseph, “they will name him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’” (Matthew 1:23) The birth of a baby boy was also the Incarnation of God Almighty. God is with us, and God saves us. It’s so easy to call Jesus “Immanuel” and “Savior” without really considering why He chose to be with us and from what He’s saved us.
I don’t think we need much to convince us that something is terribly wrong with this world. We can look around every day and see that the world is broken, we broke it, and we can’t fix it. The same is true in each of our individual lives. We don’t do what we should. Instead, we do things we know we shouldn’t.
We feel guilty, broken, empty, like we’re always missing something — even at this time of year. Surrounded by bright lights and festive carols, many are still waiting and hoping for some sort of relief — for rescue. And in that longing we can find the hope of Christmas and the reason for the season:
God the Father, for the sake of His glory and because of His love for us, sent His Son, Jesus — who offered Himself as a willing sacrifice — to satisfy God’s justice, so that Jesus took the place of sinners. The punishment we deserved was laid on Jesus instead of us, so that in the cross both God’s holiness and love are manifested.
This Christmas, when you sing about Immanuel — God with us — don’t leave Jesus in the manger. He’s not the silent baby, who seemingly makes no demands on you. Instead, remember the cross on which He died for you. But also remember that the story doesn’t end with His suffering and death. He walked out of the tomb! He was raised on the third day. Death is conquered, and we have nothing to fear.
As you prepare to spend time with family and friends this Christmas, I hope you will make room for Immanuel to be God with you and let the Savior of the world truly be your Savior and Lord.
— Josh Hall