“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23 ESV)
Are you familiar with the show Undercover Boss? This past week’s episode the undercover boss was the Mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson. I really enjoyed watching it because Mayor Wilson has been a very helpful partner with our Gary campus and the City Life Center. So it was fun to watch someone local on the show. She cleaned up the beach where we do our baptisms each summer. The way the show works is that the boss, CEO, or president of a company goes undercover and works alongside unsuspecting employees to see what it’s like to work on that level of the organization. Then in the end there is the unveiling of who he or she really is and they give out gifts or not depending on what the boss saw. Some are praised. Some are fired.
Imagine the waste treatment plant of Gary on Thursday, the day after the show. The mayor was here? Really? Or in the maintenance shed, the mayor drove the trash pickup? Can you believe it?
Why does the show work? Nobody expects the mayor to stir the human waste in the waste treatment plant. Mayors aren’t known for lowering themselves to do such things.
The manger was just like that only on a much grander scale. That child lying there was God. God came here. Right here in all our mess, and stench, all our sin and brokenness, God came here. Undercover God. Immanuel. God with us.
So what? So he came. How does that help me? Immanuel AND Jesus. The God who has come is a Savior. Isn’t that what both names mean? Immanuel. God with us. Jesus. Savior. God has come, he is with us, and his purpose is to save us from our sins. It is both/and. For God’s salvation to be applied to us, both have to be embraced.
My daughter Madeline is one and for a couple months has been right on the edge of walking. She can do it but she just can’t quite bring herself to let go. So we walk around with her holding our fingers. She holds her hands up when she wants to know we are right there with her. The world is a scary place when you are one year old.
The world is a scary place all the time. Think Berlin this week. Think of what 2016 has endured. Orlando. ISIS. Syria. Terror attacks here and abroad. There is so much turmoil in the world. How about your 2016? Any drama? Anything scary, frustrating, devastating? Don’t we feel at times like our inner child wants to hold our hands up? Anyone there? God are you with us?
God assures us of his love in the best way possible. Not from a distance. Not from the mayor’s office. But by coming right down here with us, not just to be here, but to save us. How? Immanuel. God with us. Jesus. Savior. This child grew to be a man whose life and teaching changed the world. But it was his death on the cross for our sins that fulfilled the mission of his name. Savior. He becomes our personal Savior when we turn in faith and believe in Jesus as our Savior. Here’s what it looks like: raise your hands up over your head. Maybe this Christmas, for the first time in your life, with the world or your world crumbling around you, might you extend the hands of faith and believe?
“Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the Incarnate deity
Pleased as man with men to dwell
Jesus our Emmanuel
Hark! the Herald Angels sing
‘Glory to the newborn King’” (Charles Wesley, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
©2016 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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