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December 4, 2020 | Dan Low

In the very first chapter of the New Testament, God finally delivers a fresh word from heaven after 400 years of silence! That very first word lifts us up with joy-filled anticipation: Matthew introduces us to Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. With that simple family connection, along with the extensive genealogical record that follows, we encounter Jesus as the King who sovereignly rules and supremely blesses all who trust in him to save them from their sins.

Now more than ever, we are vigilant about our safety. Facial coverings, physical distancing, opting to Zoom with family for Thanksgiving, thinking and rethinking our Christmas plans, cheering the impending arrival of vaccinations. In the midst of the record rise of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, we all want to keep ourselves safe.

We are truly grateful for all our healthcare professionals, especially those from our church, who do everything they can to save lives. Through their sacrificial care, we catch a glimpse of the extent and expression of God’s amazing love. In announcing Jesus’ birth, Joseph learns that the very name of his son highlights his mission: to save his people from their sins. So as we imagine Jesus’ remarkable birth in Bethlehem, we ultimately envision his substitutionary death in Jerusalem.

Citing the prophet Isaiah, the twenty-third verse in Matthew’s first chapter assigns another significant name to Jesus: Immanuel (“God with us”). What I love about verse 23: In this sacred birth announcement, we discover the revealing wonder of Jesus’ incarnation. Christmas 2020 is a perfect time to remember that our promise-keeping, miracle-working, prayer-answering God is always with us. God is always with you. God is always with me. Let’s be hopeful, clear, and reassuring as we invite others to relish and rejoice in Jesus revealing God to us.