Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 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. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:18-23)
… I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations … to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. (Colossians 1:25-27)
What is the most important thing I can say to a Christian at Christmas or any other time of the year? After 27 years as an equipping minister, I have concluded it is this: God lives in you! What are you going to do about it?
Reflect with me first on the most amazing truth in the amazing story of Christmas. Amidst the humble newlyweds, the angels, the shepherds, the magi, and the guiding star, we have the extraordinary revelation that this newborn baby in the manger is not the son of Joseph and Mary. He is “God with us”!
This newborn baby is the Word who became flesh to dwell among us: the Word who was in the beginning, who was with God, who was God, and through whom all things were created. (John 1:1-3, 14) Wow!
This newborn baby is the One who was in the form of God but did not cling to equality with God, emptying Himself so He could be made in our likeness, walk in our shoes, and die for our sins. (Philippians 2:1-8; Hebrews 4:15; 1 Corinthians 15:3) Wow!
This newborn baby was conceived in a virgin through the Holy Spirit and declared first by the archangel Gabriel and later by God Himself to be God’s Son. (Luke 1:32, 35 and 3:22) His virgin birth was prophesied 700 years earlier with names that could only apply to God: “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”, and, as said before, “Immanuel”. (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6) Wow!
The birth of Jesus was not the first time God’s people had experienced the nearness of God and His activity in their midst. We remember that most easily in the time of Moses – the burning bush, the pillars of cloud and fire, the top of Mt. Sinai, the tent of meeting, and the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant. (Exodus 25:22)
But in Jesus Christ as He walked on this earth, we experienced “God with us” in a way no one could have anticipated. In Him we see both God the Father and the true design of how we are to live. (John 14:7-9; 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 John 2:4-6) In Him we have God who has no sin and, thus, man without sin who can die for our sins. (1 Peter 1:19)
What truth could ever be as amazing and important as these truths? I can only think of one possibility.
My friends, the Bible makes it clear. “God with us” is now “Christ in us.” People who put their trust in Jesus receive the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of Christ. (Romans 8:9-11) Just as Jesus promised, He is with us always because we have become one spirit with Him. (1 Corinthians 6:17) God is one God in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which clearly means God lives in us now and will never leave us. (John 14:16, 15:1-11; Hebrews 13:5) Wow!
This truth is much more than a seal on our salvation, or access to power, or even the wonderful experience of God’s manifest presence. Our “new creation” is much more than a change of status.
“God with us” came as a newborn baby in a manger so He could become “Christ in us” – the Lord of Lords living in us by His Spirit and ready to sit in power every day on the thrones of our hearts. In this truth of “He who is in you,” we find the hope of glory! (1 John 4:4)
What are we going to do about that?
Have a blessed Christmas season!