The Names of Christmas

There are many words that come to mind when we think of Christmas:

  • Wonder
  • Family
  • Joy
  • Tradition

There is one more word that always comes to our minds as well: overwhelmed.

It’s easy for our minds to be spinning out of control when we think of over-extended budgets, over-crowded schedules, and overdue to-do lists. We long for the simple beauty of Christmas, but often feel like it’s beyond our reach.

If we think our head is spinning this Christmas, you can imagine what Joseph felt like the very first Christmas. His fiancé had just told him that she was pregnant, and he knew for a fact this child wasn’t his. He agonized over what to do. Should he break off the relationship? Did he love her enough to work through all of this? Did she really love him? If this pregnancy was what Mary claimed, could he really be expected to raise the Son of God?

I can imagine Joseph wrestling with these thoughts late into the night, finally drifting off to sleep through sheer exhaustion – of both mind and body. As Joseph sleeps, the angel appears to him and assures him that this is part of God’s plan. The angel’s message centers around two names for this Child.

Jesus

Matthew 1:21 –” She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

The first name given defines what this Messiah would do — that He would rescue people from their sins.

We all realize that we fall woefully short of even our own standards, let alone the standards of a perfect God who knows everything about us. Our hearts echo with the thought in Psalm 130:3 – “If you O Lord should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?” We know we don’t stand a chance on our own.

But this is the promise; that Jesus would rescue and restore. 2 Corinthians 5:21 tells us that He rescues us by taking our sinfulness and giving us His righteousness! I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than that!

Colossians 2:14-15 tells us that Jesus took the long list of accusations against us, crossed out every single one of them, and then nailed the list to the cross. Then He body-slammed our accuser (Satan), then did a victory dance, as the enemy lay unconscious on the floor! Now, that’s a victory!

1 John 1:9 tells us that every, single time we ask God to forgive us, He will. Countless failures from us, faithful forgiveness from God. All because Jesus came to rescue us from our sin!

Immanuel

Matthew 1:23 – “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”

This second name defines how this Messiah would do it — that God Himself would come to be with us.

One of the most powerful truths about Christmas is this – that the Almighty Creator of the universe would stoop to become one of us. You see, Jesus didn’t rescue us from a distance. He didn’t call a cab to pick us up. He didn’t write a check from the comfort of His home in heaven. Instead, He was born in a barn. He was raised in a home on poverty level. He felt the pain and disappointment of living in this broken world.

Hebrews 4:15 tells us that Jesus felt every pressure point of temptation, and felt it to the fullest extent, because he never caved in. He endured under the full weight. So, when we are buckling under that same pressure, instead of dismissing us, He sympathetically draws near. He reminds us that on that first Christmas, He entered our world. That He is God … with us.

My prayer for myself, and all those who read this post, can somehow retreat into a quiet space to meditate on the simple beauty of a Messiah who came to us in order to save. Merry Christmas!

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