“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Immanuel. It is a name, with meaning. God with us. God. With. Us. As I ponder the profound beauty of this truth, I allow my gaze to rest upon Anna’s painting. She has captured something beautiful. Babies are meant to be held. Our Savior is meant to be embraced.
How often do we consider the nativity scene, and picture Jesus in the manger, with a crowd of people sitting, or standing, at various distances away from him? When we picture the scene, do we picture a group of people afraid to touch him? But when we consider that night, do we really think that is how it all transpired? More importantly, what is this image in our mind telling us about who Jesus is, and why he came?
Yes, Mary wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger. But she held him first. And she held him after. She caressed his soft baby skin. She gently kissed his cheek. Joseph, too, most certainly took his turn. He would have held the baby. He would have held his wife closely as she held the baby. But here, too, is meaning. You see, when Mary and Joseph held the baby, they were also holding “God with us.”
You see, this baby was ancient. No…this baby was eternal. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) When the beginning started, Jesus was already. And all along, he was God the Son, the second member of the Trinity. Then, on that first Christmas day, God became man. God. With. Us.
Jesus came, not merely to be placed in a manger so the crowd could look at him. He came, not merely so the Bible on our shelf could speak of him. He came to embrace the children of God. He came to be embraced by the children of God. He came to save God’s children from their sin. (Matthew 1:21)
Jesus, God the Son, is not a carved image to be placed on a shelf. He is a Person. He came for persons. He came because he loved. He came to love…and to be loved.
Dear friend, as you ponder the nativity scene this Christmas, don’t keep Jesus at arms length. Embrace him, and BE EMBRACED BY HIM. After all, he is Immanuel. God. With. Us.