Have you ever noticed how people respond to celebrities doing “normal” things? Actors, musicians, and athletes are all praised for doing regular tasks, such as grocery shopping, all the time. People are somehow amazed that Chris Pratt goes to Whole Foods for himself, or that Cardi B goes through airport security “just like one of us.” Maybe I just don’t get it, but seeing famous people complying everyday tasks doesn’t seem out of the ordinary… it really doesn’t seem like news at all.
In contrast, the most incredible part of the Christmas narrative is that Jesus, God Himself, became human. This is something we cannot take lightly. Jesus was on earth, “just like one of us.” In Isaiah 7:14, the idea of the Jesus, the Messiah, coming to earth is foretold this way:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
The name “Immanuel” is given to Jesus in this passage, and it is something we kind of forget about until the Christmas season (Note: Emmanuel and Immanuel are the same name; the ‘I’ spelling is Hebrew, and the ‘E’ spelling is Greek). Immanuel means “God with us,” and that is what the Christmas narrative is all about.
The Christmas narrative is centered around the reality that Jesus, the Creator of everything, the Son of God, became flesh; the most incredible act of humility in history. Jesus stepped down from Heaven to live among broken humans in a fallen world that is overflowing with sin. He chose to get his hands dirty and love people who were deemed unlovable, fight for those who were deemed unworthy, and save a lost and dying world because of His great love. That’s Immanuel.
John 1:14 summarizes Jesus’ coming to earth by saying this:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
What I find so interesting and incredible is that Jesus didn’t choose to come as an adult, but to come as an infant, electing to experience life like we experience it. He understands the pressures of family and friends wanting so much from you. He understands the temptations we face. He understands that we experience a life full of pain, joy, sorrow, loss, and everything in-between. Jesus chose to not just be Immanuel in a triumphant moment, but to be Immanuel in the mundane.
This Christmas season, it is so easy to become overwhelmed with all of the noise. This is a time full of overwhelming emotions: stress, excitement, loss, joy, frustration… just to name a few. The temptation is to try to juggle all of them while putting on a brave face. However, as my last post said, it is okay to have these feelings, but we must not make them the focus of our hearts. We must orient our hearts around Jesus, our Immanuel. He lived this life well, and He understands you and your struggle.
The beautiful thing about Immanuel is even though Jesus died, rose again, and ascended to Heaven, that didn’t end his time as Immanuel. God is still with us. He is walking through your current season, and will continue to do so. Some of us have situations, relationships, or circumstances that are messy. Even so, Jesus still chooses to be Immanuel in our lives.
In His book, You and Me Forever, Francis Chan discusses this idea, and he says this:
“You don’t need to go looking for God. He’s with you right now. Take time to be with Him. To gaze at Him. To praise Him. This may be a completely new experience for you. Get alone with Him asking him for nothing.”
As Advent season is upon us and will be over quickly, we cannot allow it to pass without taking the time to rest in the gift that was Jesus come to earth. As we orient our minds around Jesus coming as the light of the world, we must not forget that Immanuel came to earth, and Immanuel is with us… here and now. Do not allow this season to slip by without thanking Jesus for becoming Immanuel, and for being Immanuel in our lives today.
Whether this is a time you look forward to with joy and anticipation, or a time you dread because of the stress, pain, or brokenness of your situation, we must remember that God is with us. He is the source of our joy in this season, and He is also the source of peace in our brokenness. Take some time and just be in the presence of Jesus. Break through all the noise and rest in His goodness. Understand that He gets you, and allow that to bring peace into your Christmas season.
In the midst of a dark world, at just the right time, Jesus stepped into humanity and Immanuel was born. In the midst of your season, whether chaotic or peaceful, Jesus has promised that He is with you, and will never leave you. That is how much He loves you. That’s Immanuel.
Trust the process. Take your next step. Now is your moment.