Immanuel
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For the avoidance of controversy, pick your own favourite football team, and imagine them playing in a cup final. The fans are yelling, cheering them on in the stands.

Just then, it’s announced that the most skilful football player who ever lived (again – you pick!) is coming to play on your team.

He or she comes into the team, listens well to the team members, and plays such great football that your team wins their best-ever victory.

In this scenario, the fans are ‘with’ the team, in the sense that they’re supporting them. But the star player is truly ‘with’ the team, literally, experiencing what they experience.

In Isaiah 7, with the original sign-child, the boy was named ‘Immanuel’ as a sort of cheer or boast, seeing God as a fan of Judah like a fan of a football team.

No harm would surely come to Judah because they were protected by the LORD. Isaiah had to correct them – Judah would face judgement.

But here, Matthew sees in Isaiah’s words a wondrous, greater fulfilment. Not just a young woman giving birth, this was a child born to a literal virgin, and the baby inside was literally God who was living among us.

God, the star player of the whole universe, is playing on our side. You can practically hear Matthew exploding with excitement.

It’s easy to get complacent about Jesus’ birth when we hear it each year, but this Christmas Eve, sit with that same excitement and contemplation of the miracle.

This is not just God supporting us from the sidelines, but the God who knows what it means to be human, to feel, suffer and celebrate. A Happy Christmas, indeed.


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A Prayer To Make:
‘Dear Lord Jesus, You are truly Immanuel, God with us. Please be with me this Christmas, and keep my eyes fixed on You. Amen.’

An Action To Take:
Review your past year, listing the highlights and lowlights. Go back through them all, meditating on the fact that Jesus is still Immanuel, God with us, in all things.

Scripture To Consider:
Deut. 31:6–8; Isa. 7:10–17; Matt. 28:16–20; Heb. 4:14–16

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.