One of the more popular Christmas carols that we sing, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing, focuses on the truth that God is with us in the physical birth of Jesus Christ. Stop and be amazed that the fullness of God and his glorious presence is visible in the person of Jesus Christ, but his glorious presence is “veiled in flesh” (Isa. 9:6; 53:2; Matt. 17:1-4; Phil. 2:6-8).
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see,
Hail the incarnate Deity!
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus our Emmanuel!
Marvel at the glory of the incarnation and the implications of the fullness of the presence of God bodily in the person of Jesus Christ.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9)
The lyrics also say that God is pleased to dwell with his people: “Pleased as man with men to dwell.” God creates the world to live with his people and show his glory. God’s glorious presence brings life, blessing, and delight for his people and God desires his glory to spread throughout the world (Gen. 1:26-28; 2:17-25).
But because of Adam and Eve’s sin, God banished and drove them out from his glorious presence in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 3:23-24). And because of Adam’s sin, we are separated from the presence of God (Rom. 5:12-21).
So, throughout the Old Testament, the people of God desire to enjoy the blessing of God’s presence and behold his glory (Ex. 33; Num. 6:22-27). God reveals his plans that he must make a way for sinful people to draw near to God and enjoy the presence of the glory of God (Ex. 40; Lev.16).
God, our mighty Shepherd King, shows his glorious presence in the sight of all people in the story of Exodus by a great salvation. God shows his presence with his people by providing (Ex.15-17), protecting (Ex. 14:13-30), and guiding (Ex. 13:17-22; Num. 9:18-22; Deut. 1:32-33; Ps. 78:52-54) his people like a shepherd with his sheep.
For Christians, we have now seen the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4). We can draw near to God through the way of salvation God has provided in Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Heb. 10:19-22).
Jesus Christ is the promised Shepherd King from the line of David and Abraham (Matt. 1:1), and Jesus’s presence with us brings great news!
1. Jesus is with us to save us from sin.
For many, the holiday season is a crushing reminder of the curse of sin and its consequences. Some experience the sting of death and the fog of grief as they celebrate the holidays without loved ones. Others may not be able to visit family because of divorce or other consequences of sin in relationships. Broken families are gathering together, and for many, it is a nightmarish reminder of sin and suffering in our lives.
We need Jesus, Emmanuel (God with us), to save us from our sins.
“She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.” (Matt. 1:21-23)
2. Jesus is with us to sympathize with us.
During Christmas time, it is a great comfort to be reminded that the Son of God came to be with his people in a physical body so that he can identify and understand our weaknesses and temptations in order to help us.
The holiday season can be a time of great temptation to covet what we do not have and to grumble and complain about what God already has given us. We can be tempted to stew in bitterness toward family and friends or burst out in anger when our holiday expectations are ruined.
We need Jesus to sympathize with us and help us.
“For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18)
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 4:15)
3. Jesus is with us to lead us.
The Christmas season can bring new challenges as well as new opportunities that require major decisions to be made. Jesus is faithful to lead us in the path of life, when we struggle to know the right path.
“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12)
“But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:2-4)
4. Jesus is with us to protect us.
Does the criticism or rejection of friends and family make you anxious and worried this Christmas? Perhaps fear of the future and the unknown leaves you feeling vulnerable and insecure. Be encouraged that, for believers in Christ, God secures eternity with him and guards our life forever.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29)
“While I was with them, I was keeping them in Your name which You have given Me; and I guarded them and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, so that the Scripture would be fulfilled.” (John 17:12)
5. Jesus is with us to provide for us.
During a season with expectations of giving and receiving gifts, it can be also a season of testing our trust and dependence on God to provide. Will I trust God by sacrificing for others and being generous toward others, even if I won’t be repaid? Do I believe that a specific gift this season or being with another person would satisfy my soul? God promises to provide for us and satisfy us with Jesus.
“Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” (John 6:34-35)
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh…This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:51, 58)
For Personal Reflection: What encourages you the most about the promise that God is with us?