Date: 24 Dec 2015

Text: Isaiah 7:13-14 & Matthew 1:18-23

When a woman becomes pregnant she and her husband, or perhaps I should say partner, frequently spend time mulling over names for the expected arrival. In the majority of cases of course they don’t know if they will have a boy or a girl and so selecting the right name can be a bit tricky. Sue and I always had a boy’s name and a girl’s name although when Bruce was born we hadn’t really got a boy’s name anymore as we fully expected a 4th girl! Thankfully we rapidly agreed what his name should be and we were grateful for the gift of a son.

Imagine then a baby yet to be born being given His name some 700 years before He was actually born. That’s what happened with Jesus. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Isaiah was prophesying that the Saviour of the world would be born to the Virgin Mary and would live amongst us. That name Immanuel means “God with us” for that is what Jesus is, He is the Son of God and came to be with us, live with us, learn with us, and face the same problems and struggles that we face. He is the most amazing gift from God that anyone could possibly imagine. What a pity then that so many don’t even think about Jesus at Christmas time; in fact, there are probably many who wonder what God and Jesus have got to do with Christmas in the first place!

Because of our sinfulness God could quite easily have left us to our own devices and cut us off from His presence for all eternity. But He didn’t; He loves us and His love is larger than our sins, our fears and our guilt. Our Heavenly Father sent His Son Jesus to be with us so that we could be reconciled with Him rather than ostracised and abandoned by Him. Once we are part of God’s family there is absolutely nothing than can separate us from the love that He has for us. God sent His Son to be with us and to die for us and that is why the Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman Christians and told them, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39). If God was prepared to send His Son to die in our place then it really is difficult to imagine that anything will ever be able to separate us from His love no matter how tough the going gets.

Just think about that. God is with us, beside us; He is with us and we are never alone; He is with us and everything in His plan for us will work out; He is with us and even if there are people around us who aren’t, we can be assured that God will never leave us.

This Christmas try and look beyond the tinsel, turkey, toys and television and see Jesus. His name Immanuel means “God with us” and since He truly lives up to that glorious name let’s all walk with Him by our side each and every day, not just at Christmas.

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