Christmas Is God Saying “I’m With You”
Christmas Is God Saying “I’m With You”
After you’ve done Christmas a few times (or a few dozen times), it starts losing its power. The words and phrases associated with Christmas blend into the background like elevator music.
Words like Immanuel. Which means “God With Us.” What a mind-blowing thought. Before the arrival of Jesus, the presence of God was always a pillar of fire, or a raging flame, or a whirlwind tornado. It’s kind of hard to be … with … a tornado. How do you give a hug to a pillar of fire?
God wanted to be with us — really with us — and so the most powerful person in the universe became one of the least powerful people on the planet. Jesus was born into one of the poorest families in one of the poorest countries in the world (Joseph and Mary were so poor they could only afford to give two birds at the temple). A few years later, Jesus became a refugee in Egypt. After he grew up, Jesus became a homeless guy. At the end of his life, Jesus died between two common criminals.
God had to keep lowering himself as much as possible so he could be as approachable as possible. A tornado isn’t very approachable. A pillar of fire isn’t very inviting. God wanted to be with us, so he became one of us.
It was kind of like the first time Obama came to Oahu after he became president. Everybody was so excited. After the second or third time, we all just complained about the traffic, but the first time everyone was thrilled. He would be on the evening news, eating shave ice at Island Snow, and people would be like, “Hey! I took my kids there last week, and now the President of the United States is eating the same shave ice!” When you see someone that powerful and that famous experiencing the same exact things you experience? That’s a big deal!
And it’s an infinitely bigger deal that God is one of us. Immanuel. God with us. Not just God around us. Not just God among us. God united to us. At Christmastime, God is reminding us, “I’m with you!”
Now, I know people say that all the time. When your life is really hard, your friend will text you and say, “I’m with you!” When you’re going in to a big meeting, trying to nail down a big contract, your coworker will say, “I’m with you!” Even political candidates will try to convince you: “I’m with you!”
The problem is that none of those people can really be with you. Not fully. They have their own problems to deal with. They have their own goals to pursue. Their priorities might line up with yours much of the time, but there’s no one who can
claim to be with you, all the time. Except for one.
Just before Jesus ascended into heaven, he said, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). So what does that really mean? What are people trying to communicate when they say “I’m with you?”
They’re talking about support. When someone says “I’m with you,” it means, “I’m behind you 100 percent. Even if everyone else turns on you, I’ll support you. I’ll defend you.” And Jesus can say that because if you’ve put your trust in him then he’s standing in heaven right now as your advocate. He’s speaking on your behalf every single day. As 1 John 2 says, “If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” He’s supporting you and defending you from every possible accusation that can be made against you.
He’s also talking about sympathy. When someone says, “I’m with you,” they’re saying, “Whatever you’re going through right now, I feel you. I’ve been there.” And Jesus can say that because he’s experienced everything you have. Hebrews 4 says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” If you’re experiencing anxiety or fear, think about Jesus sweating drops of blood the night before he was crucified. If you’re feeling all alone, think about Jesus on the cross, deserted by all but a few of his friends and family. He’s been there, so he has sympathy on you.
He’s also talking about strength. “I’m with you” means “Whenever you need help, I’m there for you. Whatever you need, you can count on me to do you a solid.” And Jesus can say that because he’s strengthening you in everything you do. Galatians 2 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live but Christ lives in me.” So when Jesus says he’s with you, that means he’s living your life with you. You can’t get much more with you than that. He’s protecting you from what’s bad, and empowering you to do what’s good.
And that’s what God really wants you to get about Christmas.