Baby in manger, birthed upon straw, shepherds surround, kings guided by star. Before he came, he knew full well . . .
He was entering a world broken by human will—His loved people, entangled and helpless to break free of the curse. He came knowing, for us. And in his own words he said,
“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve . . . to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:1
This, one of the most beautiful passages of Scripture, gives glorious promise of comfort and hope Jesus came into the world to give—this year, this day, this moment.
Many hearts grieve today, with Christmas Eve upon us and Christmas morn to follow. Tremendous loss, unknown tomorrows, hearts full of seemingly bottomless sorrow. He came for this. He knows the broken depths of our hearts like no person possibly could.
Christ cares more because He knows more. He knows more because He suffered more—more than any human on earth, ever. And He was completely innocent—the spotless, sacrificial lamb.
The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world knows we were not meant for the heavy burdens that bend and break us into pieces.
Jesus knows all. He sees each broken piece of every broken heart. And He came to take our broken pieces if we would just place them in his manger cradle, place them in his nail-pierced hands—to let him take the sharp-edged pain off our backs and out of our hearts and piece the raw into beautiful. He wants to place his hand of gentle comfort, of full knowing, on our shoulder and keep it there calming. He wants to empty our hearts of tears and fears and all things broken and send solid assurance that His love fills all and heals all. In brokenness, He is with us, Emmanuel—God with us.
Emmanuel in the manger. Emmanuel at the cross. Emmanuel raised on the third day. Emmanuel with us now, in our hour of greatest need.
Forget the plastic manger displays and the Christmas cards with letters and photographs of everyone putting on perfect Christmas smiles and sharing only the best of twelve months passed. All are broken, no matter what we reveal. All feel scared and sad at times and we live with a gnawing in our hearts and souls—a knowing that life cheats and hurts. Because it does. Life cheats and hurts. We die. Even before, we experience so many smaller deaths causing us to cry and wonder why.
This is why Christ came! This is why there is hope in Christ always! He is our hope, He is our comfort, He is our filling, He is our restoration! He came for this! He came to save our souls and heal our broken hearts. And we know how easily, how instantly we can be broken.
We know our child can be murdered at school by an intruder. We know we can lose that necessary job. We know we can receive a terminal diagnosis. We know we can have a life changing accident. We know our adult child can make choices that bring them, and us, great pain. We know spouses can hurt and leave. We know relations with relatives aren’t perfect and that often, they’re downright painful.
Where is Emmanuel then—God with us—at Christmas?
He’s right here. Right now. In our joy. But especially in our pain. He is so near and dear. And He told us long ago,
In this world you will have trouble, but fear not, I have overcome the world. I will never leave you or forsake you.
He’s here—Emmanuel—God with us—now. His peace is here now, no matter the circumstances.
No matter how Christmas finds our hearts this year, He stands wanting to give His gift of divine peace because Christmas—the real meaning of Christmas—is all about peace. Christ came to reestablish peace with God, peace within, and peace with others.
Jesus began peace restoration by becoming a baby in a stable manger. He finished peace restoration at the cross, restoring our greatest access to peace—by His death, He healed broken relationship with our creator, God.
So, no matter our anxieties, fears, pain, and brokenness of today—can we remember that our present trials are temporary, used by God to lead us closer to Him?
With Christ by our side, we can look the worst adversity straight in the eye and state boldly, “I am victorious because I am in Christ. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Victory can sometimes seem so far off, but never stop believing—victory is sure. And while we wait, God promises—in His word—to wipe every tear from our eyes and work everything—even the worst atrocities, the worst pain—for good. This is all from the Scriptures. This is truth. This is our God.
Our Jesus, became a child. He became our sacrificial lamb restoring right relationship with our Creator. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Jesus is coming again—Lamb of God, King of Kings, to rule Eden restored on earth. Look forward with eyes fixed and hearts hope-full. This Christmas, can we give Him the thanks He is due?
From cradle to cross to throne—we are His, if we believe, accept His gift of salvation, and follow. Behold! He is making all things new—starting with us. Praise Him!
O come, O come Emmanuel!