Christmas is the celebration of God’s gift of Christ. It is the celebration of Jesus coming to the world, the fact that “when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law that we might receive the adoption as sons,” (Gal. 4:4-5).
The Bible interprets the event of the birth of Jesus Christ as “The Incarnation – God becoming flesh and dwelling among us,” (John 1:14) translating to Immanuel – God with us (Matt. 1:22-23).
The birth of Jesus Christ is God’s identification with the predicament of man. It is missionary, sympathetic and empathic. God saw the condition that man is plunged to by the fall, set the machinery for his redemption and restoration, and ultimately, came to stand by him to change his woe narrative and doomed destiny. God’s plan for man’s salvation materialised in the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.
When Satan was hauled down to the earth, the angels exclaimed: “…Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you…” (Rev. 12:12). But when Jesus came/was born into the earth, an angel declared it “good tidings of great joy… for all people,” because on that “day in the City of David, a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” was born. Then a multitude of the heavenly host joined the angel and praised God saying: “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” which reversed the curse/woe earlier declared by the angels to the earth at the entrance of the Devil. This is the background of the carols/singing and lessons/reflections at the celebration of the birth of Christ.
The tragedy of the fall is damnation and the alienation from God. But the joy of the birth of Jesus is the remedy and reconciliation with God – salvation from sins and God being with us. God with us makes the difference between us and others (Exod. 33:15-16).
In the Bible, God is explicitly stated to be with Moses, Joshua, David and kings; judges and prophets, Virgin Mary, among others. Even Jesus himself declared that he was not alone because the Father was with Him (John 16.32). Peter also reported that Jesus went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38).
God has come to be with us in Jesus Christ, and He promised to be with us to the end of time (Mt 28:20).
“God with us” empowers and strengthens us, enabling us to move and succeed in the strength of He who is with us. However, it does not remove challenges and difficulties of this world.
Gideon asked the question many of us ask today when they consider the challenges they still face, despite God being with them: “If the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles, which our fathers told us about, saying, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?’ But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites,” (Judges 6: 13).
It is worth noting that the mentioning of the God being with anyone in the Bible is often in challenging and difficult situation. When God is with you, you may pass through difficulties, but God will turn your adversities for your good. Never be discouraged. You will come out victorious. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me (Psalm 23:4).