Immanuel: Gift or Gift-giver?
Christmas is upon us once again and the Malls are filled with Christmas consumers. Personally, Malls make me break out with hives, but to each his own. Give me a book, a cup of coffee or conversation with people I love and I’m good to go. Simplicity is on my radar this year!
I’ve been rethinking this whole Christmas thing, again. So, here’s my question, when the Bible uses the term ‘Immanuel’ in Matthew 1:23 to describe Jesus is it referring to Jesus as the gift of Christmas or to the gifts that He brings to us as Savior? Let me play my hand early – I think that even in the Christian world we place too much emphasis on the gifts of the Giver rather than the Giver of gifts.
Mind you, I am deeply grateful for God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness. In fact, there is no salvation apart from these attributes of salvation. Yet, I think too often we so focus on the gifts God gives us that we lose sight of the real gift – God Himself. It’s kind of like people who speak as if they would be just as happy going to heaven to see grandpa and grandpa, maybe even Paul and Timothy, without having any concern for seeing the Lord. Let’s be clear, heaven will not be heaven if Jesus is not present, no matter how much silver and gold and famous and/or loved people are present. And, Christmas is not Christmas without THE gift of Christmas – Jesus Christ Himself.
Maybe this is why the Spirit used the Word ‘Immanuel’ when inspiring the biblical writers in both Isaiah 8:8 and Matthew 1:23 to describe Who it was that had arrived in such an unceremonial, humble way – it was none other than ‘God with us.’ And here is the best part, if you get Jesus you get all of His benefits. If you focus on His benefits, i.e. forgiveness, mercy, grace, reconciliation, without taking Him first you receive neither Him nor His benefits.
My prayer this Christmas season is that more of God’s people will renew their love for Jesus. In doing so, they will receive the ‘good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.’ (Lk. 2:10-11) Jesus is Christmas, He is the gospel!