THE STORY OF JESUS – Luke 2:1–7 – In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
We don’t read the name “Emmanuel” once we move beyond the birth narratives about Jesus. And yet, the whole of Jesus’ life flows from that name. “Emmanuel,” God with us.
Jesus was born like us—vulnerable, weak, and dependent on his family. He needed his mother’s milk to stay alive. He needed swaddling cloths to keep his body warm. In his perfect humanity, he needed others to care for him. Just like us.
Jesus lived like us, enjoying life’s pleasures and enduring life’s moments of tedium. He played games. He got bored. He enjoyed a good meal. He also fasted when God called him to it. He was able to sleep like a stone. He also stayed up all night, at times, praying to his heavenly Father. He spent decades learning the skills of carpentry, the trade of his earthly father. He forged friendships with people, laughing and weeping with them. Just like us.
Jesus suffered like us. He got sick. He grew tired. He lost loved ones. He experienced the heartbreak of betrayal. He fought against temptations to sin. He felt the brokenness of this world and the limits of his own body. Just like us.
Then Jesus did something you and I haven’t done. Something very human, but still very foreign. He died.
Humans die. We all know this. But we haven’t done it yet. Don’t skip past that irony: Jesus has experienced something universally human—but that we living humans haven’t gone through yet.
That’s a bit ironic—and a lot comforting. Because even in his death, Jesus died as God with us.
God himself experienced the full weight of the curse, the shadow of death, the loneliness and horror of death, so that we would be able to approach death knowing we are not alone.
And then, remarkably, Jesus did something utterly unlike us: He rose from the dead. This is something we’ve never seen. But we will. The Apostle Paul refers to Jesus’ resurrection as the “firstfruits,” a promise of a future reality (1 Corinthians 15:20). Joining Jesus in his death, we will also join him in his resurrection life. Jesus became like us so that we could become like him—alive forever.
Jesus’ birth was the beginning. But his death wasn’t the end. In fact, even his resurrection wasn’t the end. His birth, his death, his resurrection—all of them are just the first pages of the story God intends to write. A story he will keep writing tomorrow. It’s a story of redemption, justice, beauty, and life. A story where God takes all the wrong and makes it right, all the darkness and makes it light. A story of a God who came to be with us, who overcame death for us, and who invites us to lives with him forever.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King; Let every heart prepare him room, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven and nature sing, And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing!
Joy to the world, the Savior reigns! Let men their songs employ; While fields and floods, rocks, hills, and plains Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat the sounding joy, Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy!
No more let sins and sorrows grow Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make his blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as the curse is found!
He rules the world with truth and grace And makes the nations prove The glories of his righteousness And wonders of his love, And wonders of his love, And wonders, wonders, of his love!1