“Behold a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is translated, God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
The essence of Christmas can be described by the word “incarnation.” The biblical word ‘carne’ is the Greek word for ‘flesh.” When we consider the Christmas that was, we find ourselves face to face with the incarnation – the miracle that God decided to make human flesh His official residence for 33 years. We date time from the first Christmas because human flesh became God’s address when Christ was born in Bethlehem.
Asked who Jesus is, a little boy answered, “God with skin on.” That’s good theology! One of the names of Jesus is “Emmanuel,” which means God with us.
The Bible also frequently uses the word flesh to mean “human nature, unaided by God.” God knew that our human nature desperately needed supernatural aid. The essence of incarnation demonstrates the reality that we need God to do something for us that we cannot possibly do for ourselves. On that first Christmas Eve God intersected human history with what we might call “The Great Intervention,” that we may experience salvation.
If you carefully read the first chapter of Luke, you will discover that God told a priest what He was going to do and the priest did not believe Him. God responded by shutting the priest’s mouth. Zacharias had the greatest sermon to preach, but lost the opportunity because unbelief shut his mouth…
“Oh Holy Child of Bethlehem descend to us we pray. Cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today…” (Phillips Brooks, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”)
Dick Woodward, A Christmas Prescription