Whether it is watching a movie or reading a book about mysteries, I find myself drawn into the story trying to figure out the mystery before the end of the story. Sometimes I figure it out and sometimes I am quite surprised when the mystery is solved.
I have never thought much about connecting the Christmas story of Jesus’ birth to a mystery, but it is there. The Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:25-27 says, “I have become its (the Church’s) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness — the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
Did you see it? The mystery. I have been thinking about this mystery all week long. Imagine the people who lived before Jesus was born. They read prophecies, heard the teachings of the of the Old Testament Scripture and waited for a Messiah. This idea of Almighty God, Creator of the Universe contained by anything on earth seemed preposterous, but God chose to dwell in a tabernacle, then a temple. People came to worship and offer their offerings and sacrifices to God.
But then the prophet said something incredible. 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.” Years later, an angel appeared to Mary and revealed to her she would give birth to a savior. That same angel told Joseph in a dream it was okay to take Mary home to be his wife because the child she carried was from God and “they will call Him Immanuel, which means, ‘God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus came, as a baby, to become God with us. Paul says it is even better than that! God chose to make known “the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” He not only came to be with us, but to dwell in us. We are His temples! How comforting and reassuring it is to know Immanuel, God is with us and wants to be in us.
His name is Immanuel … even when the doctor says, “It’s cancer.”
His name is Immanuel … even in the darkest night.
His name is Immanuel … even when she says, “I don’t love you anymore.”
His name is Immanuel … even when he walks out the door.
His name is Immanuel … even when your heart is breaking.
His name is Immanuel … even as you walk away from the grave.
His name is Immanuel … even in the midst of grief.
His name is Immanuel … even when you feel alone.
His name is Immanuel … even when the job goes away.
His name is Immanuel … even when your child won’t come home.
His Name is Immanuel, “God with us.” The mystery is that God loves us, came to this earth to be with us, and sacrificed His son Jesus for us, so that He could be in us. God loves us and wants to make His dwelling place in us in order to change us, to give us hope, to bring His peace into our lives.
Beyond the colorful lights, the Christmas music, the trees and the presents, God reminds us that He sent His one and only son, Jesus, to resolve the mystery of how to reconcile us to God. Jesus did that for us! “Silent Night. Holy Night. Son of God. Loves pure light. Radiant beams from thy holy face. With the dawn of redeeming grace.” God’s redeeming grace has dawned in Jesus coming to us. Through Jesus is the mystery of God’s love, grace, and His desire to be with us and even in us. Merry Christmas!
• Dan Wiese is the pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living & Growing” is a recurring column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.