as we approach Christmas—we’re getting closer and closer every day—we are attempting to get people to prepare their hearts for Christmas, just as they so often prepare their homes.
Today, I want to spend just a few moments at the opening of the broadcast talking about the word “Immanuel”. In Christ, all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form. The reason we rejoice at Christmas is that the baby born to Mary and Joseph on that very first Advent was no ordinary child. As Matthew records, this baby was the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of Immanuel, which literally means, “God with us,” and so often that washes over us, but consider the fact that the one who spoke and the limitless universe leapt into existence, tabernacled among us in flesh. The ultimate self-revelation of God, Jesus the Christ, was and eternally is God incarnate, literally God in flesh.
Although John’s Gospel does not include a narrative of the birth and the infancy of Jesus, the doctrine of the incarnation is so aptly summed up in his introduction when he says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” The Word became flesh and the Word made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. The clear testimony of Scripture is that in the incarnation, Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man. He existed as the perfect unity in one person of a divine and human nature.
And Paul so eloquently expressed the profundity of this truth when he said to the Philippian Christians, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross.” As the God-man, the spotless Lamb of God lived a perfectly sinless human life. He died a sinner’s death to sufficiently atone once for all for the sins of humanity. Of course, without both natures, Christ’s payment would have been insufficient. As God, his sacrifice was sufficient to provide redemption for the sins of humankind. As man, he did what the first Adam failed to do. That’s why Paul says “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man, the many will be made righteous,” or as he explained to the Corinthians “As in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.”
This Christmas season as you think of the word “Immanuel”, remember that Christ came to be with us in human flesh. and we will regard Him that way for all eternity, because in the end, we’re going to have an experience that not even Adam and Eve had, the living resurrected Christ in our midst. As we learn and grow and develop without error and as forever, we will explore the glory and grandeur of the God who saved us by his grace.
Again, this Christmas season, don’t get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle, but prepare your heart, because I fear that so often we treat Christmas very much like we treat prayer. We get down on our hands and knees, and before those knees have ever touched the ground, we’re already thinking about rushing back into our frenzied lifestyle. In fact, we treat Jesus Christ, Immanuel, no different than we treat other cherished relationships. We want intimacy without the investment of quality time. Change that this Christmas season. This is one of the reasons I’ve written The Heart of Christmas, a devotional for the season. It’s available through the ministry of the Christian Research Institute. There’s an audio version and then you have the book itself with classical guitar background music as I read through The Heart of Christmas, both available to you. You can also get a personalized edition for a donation of $100 or more to the ongoing work of the Christian Research Institute and you can get discounted packages for family and friends, all of that available through the ministry of the Christian Research Institute. You can write me, time is short, P.O. Box 8500 Charlotte, NC 28271. You can order on the web at equip.org, or as always talk to our resource consultants at 888-7000-CRI.