The Almighty God became Immanuel, "God with us," so we can spend eternity with him.
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From the editor
Here's a short, to-the-point Christmas sermon from Mark Batterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC, and author of Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah, 2008). One of the things to look for is Batterson's ability to encapsulate big thoughts in memorable ways: "He is God Most High and God Most Nigh;" "He (Jesus) became nothing so that we could become something;" "The greatest gift God gives us is the present of presence;" "The best experiences are lacking when we experience them by ourselves."
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
One of the biggest mistakes we make in the way we think about God is thinking about him in four-dimensional terms. God isn't four dimensional. According to string theorists, there was a dimensional split shortly after Creation, which means there are more dimensions than meet the eye. Physicists postulate the existence of at least ten dimensions, which leads Dr. Hugh Ross to argue that God is at least eleven dimensional. The truth is: God is omni-dimensional or extra-dimensional.
I mention all of that to say this: we all underestimate God.
In the words of Dr. Ross: "We doctrinally orthodox Christians potentially underestimate God's nature, powers, and capacities by a factor of a trillion in one dimension." If you add just a second dimension, we underestimate God by a trillion to the trillionth power. Truth be told, we underestimate God by infinity to the infinity power.
Immanuel: God with us
God is the Almighty One. But he is also Immanuel. If you want a balanced picture of God, you've got to juxtapose those two names. He is God Most High and God Most Nigh. He exists outside time and space. He is also Immanuel—God with us.
God entered space-time 2,000 years ago in a tiny village outside Jerusalem called Bethlehem. Galatians 4:4 says, "When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive the full rights as sons." Jesus was subject to the same spiritual laws that govern all of us. He was also subject to the same physical laws that govern the universe.
Mark Batterson is lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC, and author of Wild Goose Chase (Multnomah Books, 2008).