Thursday 17th Decmeber
All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
There are many things that we can look forward to as signs of the Christmas season, even if it looks a little different this year because of government restrictions. For some it is the Christmas lights that illuminate the streets with a wide array of colours on cold winter nights. For others it may be those same classic Christmas songs that play on repeat on the radio year after year. Or maybe for you it is simply gathering around a warm open fire and watching Christmas movies. Personally, nothing signals Christmas more than eating too much food and receiving new books I will probably never read! Whatever you look forward to there is always something that is truly a sign of the season. But, at the very first Christmas what was the sign that the people of that time were looking out for? What where they waiting for to signal the promises of God? Or rather who were they looking forward to?
Just as today we shouldn’t be surprised by the common trappings of the Christmas season that appear every December, so too the people of God should not be surprised at the coming of a child as the sign of God to save his people. Why? Well because it was foretold hundreds of years before by the Prophet Isaiah. God promised that he Himself will give his people the sign of their future redemption. How would God reveal himself, by the dramatic entrance of a mighty warrior king followed by a host of angels? No, rather he points to a lowly virgin, “Look, the virgin will conceive a child!”. God chooses the sign of this new age to be the humble virgin mother, Mary. Mary and her miraculous conception will be the sign of God’s salvation of his people.
But what makes Mary so special? After all she is sinner like anyone else, she too needs a Saviour. Well, she has found the favour of the Lord (Luke 1:28) and is to be the mother of a son, the Saviour of the world. “She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)”. What was the sign of the first Christmas? A woman conceiving a little boy who is God himself! God seeks to be known to his people, and he does so by giving this sign. Jesus is given his name and title in Isaiah 7, he is Immanuel, God with us. The Christmas story is a reminder that Jesus is God with us. He invaded a broken world; a world that deserved judgement and rebuke. And what does God give? He gives Himself.
This Advent season as we appreciate and enjoy all the trappings of the season, let us remind ourselves of the sign that God himself revealed to us that first Christmas. Look! The virgin has given birth to a child, Immanuel, God with us!
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