Over the millennia, God has appeared in many forms in His ongoing pursuit of intimate relationship with the ones that He created in His own image – people.
To Abraham, He appeared as a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch.
To Joseph, He appeared as an interpreter of dreams.
To Moses, He appeared in a burning bush, and revealed Himself as “I am.”
To Israel, He appeared as the One whom no one could approach except Moses, and later, the High Priest.
To Elijah, He appeared as a the One who sent down fire from heaven, and then later, as a gentle whisper.
To Isaiah, He was the One sitting high and lifted up, exalted on a throne, and the train of His robe filled the temple. The sight of Him caused Isaiah to repent in terror at his own unworthiness.
To Ezekiel, He appeared as Glory that caused Ezekiel to fall face down in the dust.
To Daniel, He appeared as the Ancient of Days, seated on a fiery throne.
To Mary and Joseph – ah, to Mary and Joseph. To them, He appeared as a newborn child, crying, still wet with amniotic fluid, umbilical cord needing to be severed, helpless and tiny.
The One who spoke all things into existence appeared as a baby. The One Who created Mary and Joseph in His image, Who holds all of creation together, the One Who simply is, existing outside of time, Ancient and yet making all things new, the One who will one day return as King of Kings and Lord of Lords – that One depended upon Mary for sustenance, and upon Joseph for protection.
And in that moment, the One who had appeared in so many forms and in so many glorious personal revelations set aside His rights and privileges and revealed Himself as Immanuel – the One who humbled Himself so that we could have the possibility of relationship with Him.
Wonderful Counselor? Absolutely.
Mighty God? The only One.
Everlasting Father? Yes.
Prince of Peace? Yes, the only One who will bring lasting peace.
But most wonderful, most amazing, most difficult to understand and accept – He is Immanuel. God is with us.
His good friend John, who knew Him when He was an adult, wrote this about Him: “The Word became human and lived here on earth among us.” (John 1:14, NLT). Literally, it means that He pitched his tent among us – He moved into our neighborhood and became one of us, so that we could know Him and one day, move into His neighborhood.
Never forget this deepest, truest meaning of Christmas – that the Eternal, Almighty, Omnipotent God loved you and wanted a relationship with you so desperately that He humbled Himself and exchanged the only Throne that matters for a feeding trough in Bethlehem, and later, a cross outside of Jerusalem.
And what gift could you or I possibly give Him this Christmas that would be enough to properly thank Him?
Would it be to give up all we have? To attend every service we can? To feed the hungry and clothe the naked and visit those in prison? To heal the sick and cleanse lepers and even cast out demons?
All those things can be good. They each have a place.
But all He really wants is you. Your heart, your love, your faith in Him.
“To all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn!” (John 1:12-13, NLT)
He wants you to accept His offer of relationship. It’s why He came. It’s the whole reason for Bethlehem, for Golgotha, and for the empty tomb.
How do you accept His offer?
Just tell Him.
It’s as simple as that. Thank Him, tell Him you’re sorry for trying to do this all on your own, and that you believe that He is Who He says He is – the Savior.
Then just trust Him. He’ll do the rest.
If you’re interested in learning more about following Jesus, or want to try a new devotional for the New Year, check out my new devotional book, Forty Days of Walking With Jesus: A Devotional Guide, now available on the Kindle Store.