Day 22

Christmas Eve: Immanuel Has Come

from the Advent 2023 reading plan

Luke 1:26-56, Matthew 1:18-25, Isaiah 7:14

BY Ginny Owens

Today we arrive at God’s fulfillment of all our longings. Life has come to conquer death. Light has arrived to overcome darkness. Love has come to conquer hate and fear. Immanuel has come to be with us.

As the truth of how Jesus came unfolds before us in today’s reading, we can marvel at the unprecedented, history-making miracles our God unfurled. These miracles were foretold first by prophets, and in the case of these readings, by two angels—both supernatural events in themselves.

The angel Gabriel declared three miracles to Mary. First, she would bear a child, despite being a virgin (Luke 1:31,34–35). Second, this child would be the King who would fulfill God’s promises to Israel and to David, whose kingdom has no end—He is the Son of God (vv.32–35). And third, Mary’s cousin who had always been childless had now conceived and was six months pregnant (v.36). He concluded with a pronouncement that sums it all up: “Nothing will be impossible with God” (v.37).

A second angel also expounded on the first two miracles to Mary’s betrothed, Joseph, interrupting his plans to quietly escape the sticky situation with his pregnant fiancé. “Don’t be afraid,” the angel commanded (Matthew 1:20). “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (v.21).

What a unique way to save the world. God fulfilled His ancient promise to rescue His people while satisfying the longings of a childless older couple and challenging two young people to entrust their lives to Him.  

We can’t miss two other miracles that occurred here: Mary and Joseph each surrendered to God’s mysterious, unfathomable plan. After being deeply troubled at the angel’s greeting, Mary later erupted in praise to God for how He would deliver the world and bring justice, and for how He had favored her and allowed her to be part of His earth-shattering plan (Luke 1:46–55). While Joseph did not share a song of praise, he quietly obeyed the angel’s instruction to not break off his engagement and humbly surrendered to a life where stigma would surround his family and a son who would be his King forever.

Mary and Joseph’s embrace of Christ’s coming with praise and obedience is a most beautiful miracle, one we also have the privilege of partaking in as we respond to their story. Like them, we get to do the difficult things God has called us to. We say yes to His will, even when we don’t understand. And we walk through our dark seasons with hope. Why? Because Christ came for us. And when He did so, He sent us a helper (John 15:26–27). The Spirit works in us—strengthening us, humbling us, and teaching us joyful surrender until the day we are face to face with Him (Romans 8:26-27). Jesus’s coming led to our once-and-for-all salvation and our transformation from now until He comes again. What a miracle!

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