One of the realities we face as people living in a fallen world is that tragedy and sadness surround us. This reality seems especially true this Christmas as we all mourn not only the loss of many lives in Newtown, CT, but also what such acts of violence say about our culture and the spiritual condition of our nation. It seems like lately one tragedy has barely ended before another one begins. This morning in Webster, NY, four firemen were shot, two fatally, while two others remain in the hospital. The gunman set a fire to lure the first responders to the scene, and when they arrived, he opened fire. It’s gut-wrenching to think that people have lost loved ones on Christmas Eve of all days because of the wicked acts of a wicked man.
The sad reality, though, is that our world is not any different than the world that Jesus was born into. In Matthew 2, we read about a wicked ruler, Herod, who put to death all male children two and under in and around Bethlehem. He committed this atrocity out of fear of losing power, for the sake of his own ego and pride. The world into which Jesus came was a world far more brutal than our own. It was a world where slavery was legal, and millions of people were treated as no better than cattle. It was a world where women were often treated as property. It was a world where homosexuality was rampant. It was a world filled with idolatrous worship and religious persecution.
In the midst of all the evil and chaos of the surrounding world, God made a promise that He fulfilled at Christmas. Matthew 1:23 says that the birth of Jesus took place to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, who wrote, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” Matthew reminds us that Immanuel means God with us. Jesus came into a world filled with evil and violence and hate as Immanuel. He came as God with us.
The promise of Christmas is that, no matter what happens in our world, no matter what befalls us personally, if we have faith in Jesus, then God is with us. He is with us to save, to deliver, to rescue, to comfort, to strengthen, to care for, to give peace, to carry, and to sustain us. In a world filled with darkness, Christmas stands as a burning and shining light that in Christ, God is with us. It might not always feel that way. From a human perspective, it might not always look that way. But the promise of God is sure. If we know Jesus through faith in Him, trusting in His death and resurrection, believing His promise to forgive our sins because of what He has done, God is with us.
Jesus came into our broken world as Immanuel, God with us. Our world has not changed. It is still broken. But neither has our God changed. He is still with us in His Son. May His promise give you comfort, peace, and joy this Christmas, and throughout the year.