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Learning from Linus

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?!?” Charlie Brown first cried out his question on December 9, 1965, over 50 years ago. Linus Van Pelt had a ready answer for his good friend, and ever since then he has been sharing it with whomever will listen. Let’s hear the Christmas story one more time from Linus.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

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If Immanuel Never Came

immanuelAll 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.” (Matthew 1:22, 23 NIV) 

“God with us.” It’s what Christmas is all about. The God of the immeasurable universe came to rescue and reclaim the only part of His creation that bears His image—us. Yet it makes one think, what if “Immanuel” never happened? What if God merely spun this little blue-marble into motion and then “come what may”? What if the Son of God never took on human flesh and walked among us for a purpose? Where would we be? What would our life be like? What would be our destiny?

If no Immanuel, we would carry a guilt we could not defend, but as it is, God “has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation . . . “ (Colossians 1:21).

If no Immanuel, we would owe a debt we could not pay, but as it is, “He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code . . . that was against us and stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:13, 14).

If no Immanuel, we would face a chasm we could not bridge; instead, “now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

If no Immanuel, we would tremble with a fear no one could placate, but “we have [a high priest] who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15, 16).

If no Immanuel, we would grope for a hope no one could grasp, but instead, “he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . . “ (1 Peter 1:3).

If no Immanuel, we would be alienated from God by sin for which we could not atone, but “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in [Jesus], and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood on the cross” (Colossians 1:19, 20).

If no Immanuel, we would perceive a far-off God no one could understand, but He has shown us Himself, for “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being . . .” (Hebrews 1:3).

But Immanuel did come, just as God promised. He came at just the right time and for just the right purpose. He came because God loves us. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying “’Abba! Father!’” (Galatians 4:4-6 ESV).

Thank you God for coming to us. Thank you for coming for us. We are eternally grateful to you. In Jesus. Amen.

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God’s Christmas Wish List

giftsRemember being a kid at Christmastime? Every year, we eagerly made out our wish lists, including that one thing we wanted more than anything else. We made sure everyone knew it, too—our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters, cousins and friends. Then to cover all the bases, we appealed to Santa Clause!

Is it surprising to know there was a “one special thing” on God’s list that first Christmas night? And that, like a child pursuing Christmas dreams, He announced it relentlessly throughout the Old Testament to whomever would listen? Do you know what it was, that deep desire that consumed our God? He left plenty of hints!

It began with a promise to Abraham. “I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants … to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.”1

It was in His heart when God called Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead Israel out of Egyptian captivity: “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.”2

Then revealing Himself and His ways to a post-exodus Israel, God’s deep desire was clear: “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands … I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”3

Though deeply grieved over a rebellious Israel in exile, God’s passion never changed as He waited for a remnant to return: “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me with all their heart.”4

And when foretelling of a new covenant—of a Messiah’s leadership and a good shepherd’s protection—God’s eternal purpose remained unbending: “The time is coming when I will make a new covenant.… I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”5

In a real sense, God has always been “Immanuel,” God with us; He has always been with His people and He has always claimed them as His own. But God yearns for all people to be reconciled to Himself for all time and to be unimaginably close to us—not only with us, but also in us.

So it was that first Christmas night that God came into the world. He came to us as a gift—He, himself, living among us, full of grace and truth. Our God.

And what can we give him in exchange? Our trust and our obedience. Ourselves. His people.

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men on
whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:14)

1 Genesis 17:7 – circa 2067 B.C.
2 Exodus 6:7 – circa 1446 B.C.
3 Leviticus 26:3, 12 – circa 1445 B.C.
4 Jeremiah 24:7 – circa 597 B.C. to 593 B.C.
5 Jeremiah 31:31, 33 circa 587 B.C.