Isaiah 7:14 – “Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.”
We find ourselves just a few weeks away from the celebration of the birth of Jesus – Christmas. It is always a festive time of year filled with family, church and community celebrations. However, I am afraid that in our commercialized world, we often go through the motions of celebrating the real reason for this season of Christmas. We seem to have lost the wonder and awe of this life changing event.
As I read Isaiah 7:14, I was reminded again about WHY we celebrate Christmas. Immanuel means, “God with us.” This is an old testament verse that was fulfilled in the new testament as Jesus was born in a stable, grew up and became a life changer in the lives of so many people. This is the beautiful picture of God becoming flesh in the person of Jesus and coming to a world that would need Him desperately.
I think about Saul. In the book of Acts, we find a man that hates Christians so much he is killing them left and right. In Acts 9 he has an encounter with Jesus that changes his life forever. Saul goes from hating and killing believers to joining Jesus in the mission of spreading the gosepel. In Acts 12:24-25 we find these words, “But the word of God flourished and multiplied. After they had completed their relief mission, Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem, taking along John who was called Mark.” His name would later be changed to Paul and he would go one to write half of the new testament. Saul/Paul’s life was forever changed on that road to Damascus.
As I reflect on life change, I am reminded about the woman at the well in John 4. She is a Samaritan, which meant Jews did everything in their power to stay away from her, yet Jesus goes out of His way to have these moments with her. They have a life changing conversation about living water that changes her forever. She goes and tells her family member and the community, and their lives are forever changed. John 4:42 says, And they told the woman, “We no longer believe because of what you said, since we have heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”
In Mark 2 we find a paralyzed man who has been lowered through the roof to meet Jesus because the crowd was too large to get him through the front door. This encounter is life changing because this parayzed man begins a relationship with Jesus, and he walks out on legs that have been healed. Mark 2:12 says, Immediately he got up, took the mat, and went out in front of everyone. As a result, they were all astounded and gave glory to God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!”
I hope that you have your own very personal story of life change…a time when Jesus stepped into your life, your world, your diagnosis, your financial crisis, your broken marriage, and did His incredible, life changing, life altering work. This Christmas, celebrate with a renewed sense of wonder and awe this Jesus who was born in a manger in Bethlehem has changed the life of people all over the world. Immanuel, God with us, is still with us changing lives today. If you have never experienced His life changing touch, find someone that has and ask them how to experience Jesus in this way. If you have experienced the life changing work of Jesus, share your story with someone that may need to hear it. You will share with them the best “gift” they could receive.