The past few weeks, I have been hearing songs and reading Facebook posts all about the title given to Jesus, which is “Immanuel” (or Emmanuel). I keep hearing and seeing the same thing over and over again, “God with us.” Not only on Facebook, but also in my own heart, and even in our Children Ministry lesson this week. I truly believe the Lord God is trying to help us understand what it took for Him to come to us, to be with us, to be our Immanuel. During Christmas we concentrate more on Jesus being born than Jesus dying on the cross, but that is why He chose to be born. He chose to be our Immanuel, our Savior, our Sacrifice, and He chose to come as a babe, it was the only way to make salvation possible for us. Philippians 2:6-8 is one of my favorite passages in the Bible, not only does it teach me what true humility looks like, but it also sings of Christmas and His everlasting love for me.
“Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:6-8
Paul tells us in the previous verses that we should have this mind, just as Christ did, we should be of the same mind- not thinking of ourselves but putting others first, because that is what Christ did. But Christ was God, He was in heaven, He was there at the beginning when God our Father said, “Let Us make man in our image.” Jesus was God, and is God. Yet He chose to leave His heavenly place to come to earth to be born as a babe in the lowest and dirtiest place on earth, a manger. As I thought and pondered on this, I began to break the verses apart, and I began to see the love that Christ Jesus, our God, our Creator, our King has for us. It is bringing me to tears, as it should all of us. His sacrifice and what He gave up to come and be “with us”, should bring us to our knees. But first, we must understand why He did what He did, and what it cost Him.
The “form” of God indicates to us that He was the great “I Am”; He is Jehovah God, the One true God. The word “form” refers to what He was going to reveal to us in visible form. Christ had no need to grasp for equality with God, for He already was God. Being God, He “made Himself of no reputation”, He set aside the glory of His deity, not His actual deity, and He set aside His privileges to become one of us, to be “with us.”
Christ Jesus took off His heavenly robes of righteousness, of holiness, of power and glory and willingly came to this earth for one purpose, to die for us. Imagine you are walking along a busy street, you see a coat lying on the ground. It is tattered and torn, full of every disgusting thing imaginable, and every bit of dirt that can be trampled upon it has been. Would you take off your nice clean coat and put that one on? Of course we wouldn’t, but Christ did. He took off His clean and perfect holiness and put upon Himself our filthy, dirty sinful nature, so that He could live among us. He did not stop being God, but as He made the descent to earth, He emptied Himself of all His privileges, even His eternal being to be born for you. He had to come in human form, because He had to die.
And, “being found in appearance as a man” means that no one was the wiser. He was just like you and me. If you were to meet Christ on the street you would not know Him, because His words, His actions, His mode of life would look just like yours. (Although, without sin) His entire appearance to anyone who beheld Him was no different than how we view each other. He made Himself known and was recognized as a man, He was just like us.
And through all this, He only had one goal, one purpose in His heart. That was you. He took off His divine and put upon Himself your sinfulness, our filth and became like us. He voluntarily made Himself like man, just so that He could die for your sins. God made man in His image (Genesis), now He voluntarily made Himself in man’s likeness, just so that He could be “with us.”
Why did He do this? Why would a perfect and holy God want to be with such sinful and hateful people? Because He loves us. He only had you in His heart and mind when He began to descent to earth, to be born in sinful flesh, because the joy that was set before Him was greater than the sacrifice of His own eternal being. He could not bear to be without you, so He took upon Himself the dirtiest and filthiest rags of all, our sins, and endured the cross, for the joy in having you with Him was greater than any sacrifice He had to make. So He chose, willingly and voluntarily chose, to leave His heavenly throne to come and to be born as a babe, in a manger, just so that He could die for you; just so that He could be our “God with us”, our “Immanuel.”
This Christmas, I pray that as you sit around the table with your family and friends, that you remember the sacrifice that He gave to you. Not only being born in a manger, but what He gave up just so that He could be with you. May our hearts cry out this Christmas, “O Immanuel, our God is with us!’ To Him be the glory, forever and ever. Amen.