Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and wondered if they were really there? They heard the words you were speaking but weren’t listening. They seemed to be somewhere else or worse, they didn’t care what you had to say? You could sense the absence of their presence.
It really makes a difference to be able to sense a person’s presence doesn’t it? Healthy relationships grow stronger by having an engaging presence.
The same is true in our spiritual lives. We need that close spiritual relationship with Jesus. That’s why Jesus injected Himself into our world, to be with us. “God with US”. The goal of every believer, at Christmas and throughout the year, should be to live in the presence of God.
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.
“This is a well-known part of the Christmas story. Almost everybody knows something about the details. Joseph is a working-class, single adult living in a little town called Nazareth, just west of the southern point of the Sea of Galilee, up in the mountains on the way to nowhere. He’s engaged to be married to a young woman, and she surprises him with the news that blows his mind and changes his life forever. While he’s thinking about what he should do he’s visited by an angel who helps him understand what’s going on. The angel tells Joseph that the baby will be called “God with us.” Here’s the truth that leaps off the page: God has gone to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with you.”
In the business of the Christmas season, what does Christmas really mean? It’s simple. All the decorations, all the songs, all the celebrations are about one thing: God is with us.
Let’s examine two aspects of God’s Presence
God Promises His Christmas Presence (v. 22)
When the angel came to Joseph he was distraught. His world probably felt as if it were crumbling down. He knew Mary all his life and to say he was surprised by her news of being pregnant was an understatement. This event was so contrary to her character and what he knew of her. He must have thought, how can this be?
Imagine his surprise when he realized what was taking place was actually the will of God. The Angel had to remind Joseph of God’s promise in Isaiah 7:14. When he woke from his dream I’m sure he was still confused but he believed.
God made this promise some 700 years prior. The prophet Isaiah probably didn’t understand the prophecy when he spoke it. Yet hundreds of years later, beyond anyone’s understanding, God fulfilled His promise and Jesus was born, God came to be with us.
God fulfills His promises and is always true to His word.
Here’s the promise God made to Joseph and to you and me: God is with us in the person of Jesus Christ.
God Personalizes His Christmas Presence (v. 23)
“‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means God with us).” That’s personal. God didn’t send just a prophet or a priest or a pastor. God sent His own Son. God is with us.
Here’s the real power of Christmas. God knew we were struggling with the greatest challenge known to humankind: sin. The problem was so great and He loved us so deeply, He chose to come handle the issue Himself. The Bible says. “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (v. 21). God had to come and deal with the sin problem because the problem of sin in your life and my life is so terrible God had to deal with it on His own. God got personal on that first Christmas. Jesus is God in person, dealing with the problem of sin (v. 21).
And the wonderful surprise about God being with us is that He didn’t come to condemn us of our sin, but rather to save us from sin.
How do you live in His presence?
- By studying His Word daily
- Pray without ceasing
- By spending time with other believers
- By helping those in need.
Christmas, and ultimately our life itself, comes down to this, living in the presence of God. As a result of Christmas, believers can know God because Jesus is “God with us.”