Emmanuel

By John Ed Mathison
Executive Director
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries

One night Joseph’s sleep was interrupted by a visit from an angel whojohn ed announced that he was going to be a father and that his fiance Mary was going to conceive a child by the Holy Spirit.  The angel then declares that the prophesy is coming true which says, “Behold the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a child son and they shall call His name Emmanuel which translated means God is with us.” (Matthew 1:20-23)

Christmas is a story of how God elected to become a human like us to be with us in the form of His Son.  The description of His arrival on earth is fascinating and demonstrates the awesome power of God who can do anything.  When He was here, He said that He would always be with us. (Matthew 28:20) The everyday presence of Christ means that Christmas lives on every day.

Dr. G. Campbell Morgan was once visiting an elderly woman and reading the Bible to her.  At the end of Matthew’s gospel Dr. Morgan read, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”At this point the pastor thought he would make a theological comment by saying, “That is a great promise.”  The old woman quickly replied, “That is not a promise at all – that is a fact.”

The coming of Jesus had been promised in the Old Testament.  But the real meaning of Christmas lies in our understanding that it is a fact because we experience His presence today.  Jesus was not just born 2,000 years ago – He is born into the hearts of every person who receives Him today.  It is a fact that His presence is very noticeable!

On the day of his anointing by Samuel, David experienced the presence of God.  I Samuel 16:13 says, “The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward.”  Verse 18 affirms the fact that others recognized that “the Lord is with him.” The presence of God was evident in the life of David – and other people recognized it.

I read a great story about Bishop King of Lincoln, England.  One day he went to see a dying man.  It was a very lonely road on a dark night.  After traveling a good ways, Bishop King reached the address of the house and there was no one there.  He was perplexed.

Years later, and when he was a Bishop, he visited a man in prison who was serving a death sentence and to his surprise the criminal asked the Bishop if he remembered that incident.  The prisoner said, “It was I who gave you the false message.  I wanted to lure you out that I might rob you on the lonely road.”  The Bishop then asked, “Why didn’t you attack me?”  The prisoner’s reply was extraordinary.  “I couldn’t do it.  I lay in hiding determined to attack you on your way back, but I saw that you were NOT ALONE.”

The Bishop insisted, “But I was alone.”  The prisoner quickly said, “No you were not.  There was a mysterious looking stranger walking close beside you who followed you to your house and then he disappeared.  My chance to attack you was gone.”

Bishop King said that he would have a difficult time explaining that, except that he knew it was the presence of God that the robber saw.  He then thought that maybe the robber saw something that even he had not been as open to see in himself – the presence of God in his life.

My prayer this Christmas is that you experience the marvelous joy of the presence of God through His Son Jesus Christ in your life.  He is your best friend, your companion, your partner, your protector, your guide, your leader, your mentor, your fact – God is with us!

Emmanuel!!

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