Otterburne, MB – Christmas brings back many memories for me. One of those memories is travelling to Manitoba from Saskatchewan to visit relatives. My father was pastoring a church in Saskatchewan, and every Christmas we would go to Manitoba. It was an exciting time and we always looked forward to being with cousins, aunts and uncles, as well as grandparents. We did not have access to the technology of today as our only contact was by telephone. Being physically present with them was special, and the memories continue on to this day.
In a Daily Bread devotional a number of years ago, the story was told of one of the great monarchs in Persia who was known as a champion of the common people. To relate to their needs and problems, he would mingle with them in various disguises. On one occasion, he went as a poor citizen to the public baths. There in a tiny cellar he sat down beside the man who tended the furnace.
He talked to the lonely fellow, and at mealtime he ate some of his plain food. In the weeks that followed, he visited him often and the poor man grew to love him dearly. Then one day, the monarch revealed his true identity. Expecting to hear a request for some expensive gift, he was surprised when his subject just silently sat there gazing at him in awe and astonishment.
Finally, he said respectfully, “You left your palace and your glory to sit with me in this dark place, to eat of my coarse bread, and to care whether my heart is glad or sad. You may give rich presents to others, but you have given yourself to me. Please, your majesty, never withdraw the priceless gift of your friendship.”
This is an illustration of what Jesus Christ did for us when He left the glory of heaven and came down to this earth. The promise given in Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” Immanuel means ‘God with us.’ John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus Christ “made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”
Jesus Christ left all that He had in heaven and began His life on earth in a stable. He grew up as a member of a poor family, and He worked with His hands until He was 30 years old. He was worshipped by angels in heaven, and then came to this earth to be with us and to be one of us. He died and rose again so that we could one day go and live with Him.
This Christmas will be different in that we will not be able to be physically present with others, including our families. We do have this promise that Jesus Christ, Immanuel, is with us during these times. We rejoice in this promise which is Good News. This is the gospel, this Advent and Christmas.
– written by Prov’s Dr. Stan Hamm, Dean of Seminary & Associate Professor of Educational and Christian Studies