God with Us: 3 Seriously Biblical Reflections on Christmas
Immanuel means God with us
22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” w (which means “God with us”).
The time of the year is here when we all celebrate Christmas. Since 2005, Christmas has taken a different meaning for me as I embraced Jesus into my own life. This year, it is as different as previous years as I spend Christmas as a father, after being through the different milestones this year. But I thought it is apt to reflect about the meaning of Christmas as the Bible described. After all, significant in the coming of Jesus is God with us, really, as what Matthew 1:22-23 has stated. So here, I offer three reflections about Christmas for 2020.
Reflection 1: The world is right about the giving nature of Christmas
It is easy to find articles such as this on Facebook these few days on what the church has gotten wrong about the Christmas story. However, even as the world commercialises Christmas, I have to say that it has gotten one thing right: that this is the season for giving.
Yes, we participate in parties where gift exchange is the norm. Perhaps it is so normal that it creates stress in us as we think about what to get given the budget. However, as the world “encourages” people to give, this is an opportunity for us to draw people to the main message of Christmas – that God first gave Himself to us in the form of Jesus, or Immanuel (God with us), so that He could really be with us.
It is this that I was also reflecting what I can give to my family this Christmas. If God gives us His presence through Immanuel (God with us), then this is the season that I find apt for us to give of our own presence, on top of our presents, to our families and friends, so that we can bring the presence of God with us to them.
Reflection 2: The world is right about the joyous nature of Christmas
It is very rare for public event to celebrate Christmas with a dark or solemn tone. In fact, the world tries to present Christmas as a joyous occasion (for buying and giving presents). Indeed, before I know Christ in my life, Christmas has also been a joyous time when I receive great gifts from people.
But the reason for Christmas is Jesus, the presence of God with us. This is real reason for the joy. Yes, people are generally happy this season. As Christians, the world is right about the joyous nature, but we can take the opportunity to share the joy behind the joy, which is the coming of Jesus. After all, because of Jesus, we are born again and we can live.
This brings me to my last reflection.
Reflection 3: The world needs to know about the salvific nature of Christmas
The world may be right about giving and joyous nature of Christmas. But as we see the world taking the meaning of Christmas into its own hands, Christians will need to let the world see the salvific nature of Christmas. That is to say, the real reason why Jesus, the presence of God with us, had to come on earth is the really news before the good news.
The world needs to know, that before Jesus, the world has no hope nor answer to the sins in this world. Before Jesus, the world is dead in its trangressions and is powerless to do anything. That is the reason why God has to intervene and send Jesus to eventually die for our sins, so that through his death and resurrection, we may gain victory over eternal death and gain eternal life.
As I reflect about Christmas, this is the most important message we can share with the world today. But this is also the message we can internalise in our hearts, as we meditate on the goodness of God, who came down so that He could be with us. The good news need to be presented as the good news in us first, before it can be presented to the world as the good news.
As I end this post, Christmas is the time of the year where we ought to reflect on God’s lovingkindness through the giving of Jesus. And I hope that this post can serve to remind us that it is not just getting the story right but it is about getting the message in our hearts despite what the world throws at us.
Have a merry little Christmas.