20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). 24 When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, 25 but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.
“Jesus Christ is God”- There has never been a statement more debated and discussed. More than His miraculous birth, authoritative teaching, remarkable miracles, and even His cruel death, nothing has been more polarizing than Jesus’ claims to His own deity. What do we believe about Jesus? Do we believe Him to be God?
For the Jew, this was the most blasphemous claim a man could make. It is no wonder the pharisees took up stones to throw at Him. When they asked Him if He was greater than their father Abraham, He replied “before Abraham was, I AM”, taking on the very name of God (I AM = YAHWEH). Jesus explicitly took on the identity of God throughout His ministry. He forgave sins (an act that only God could do). He accepted worship (Only God was to be worshipped). He raised himself from the dead (only God had authority over death and life). It is no wonder they feared and abhorred Him.
But the message of the Christmas gospel is the most comforting news to those who believe! The Christmas gospel shouts that God wants intimate communion with his creation. In the garden of Eden, God created man for fellowship. The bible describes Him as walking with man in the cool of day. But sin severed the bond between man and God, and we were cast from His presence. The birth of Jesus did not just mark the birth of our savior, but the reuniting of God with His people. It meant that God would once again walk with His people. In fact Gabriel said He would be called “Immanuel” or “God with us.”
This advent, let us be encouraged that God wants relationship with us. Let us shelter ourselves in the gospel of Christmas and draw nearer to the God who has drawn close to us, Amen.