Christmas has come and gone. Gifts were given and received. Some of those gifts are still being enjoyed while others have been shoved in a corner and forgotten. Eventually, all earthly gifts lose their value in one way or another.
But there’s one Christmas gift that will never lose its value and will become more precious to us day after day and year after year.
I’m sure you know what Gift I’m referring to.
Yes, it’s Jesus. But perhaps not in the way you’ve always thought of Jesus as our Gift at Christmas time.
We usually think of the gift of salvation that Christ brought by coming to earth, dying on the cross, and resurrecting from the dead. While salvation is an awesome gift, Christ’s coming gave us far more than eternal life, glorious as that is.
The clue is in the name God gave to Jesus when He came to earth as a baby:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.Isaiah 7:14 NIV
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).Matthew 1:22-23 NIV
By coming to earth, God truly was with His people — living with them, talking to them, healing them, and more. I’ve often longed for that physical and tangible presence of Jesus now. To be able to see His face, hear His voice, and feel Him holding me would be an amazing thing.
However, before Jesus left this earth in human form, He told His disciples, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).
Other translations word it a little differently, such as “it is to your advantage” (ESV), “it is for your benefit” (CSB) and “it is best for you” (NLT) if I go away.
Say what?! It’s for our good that He went away?
Yes, and here’s why.
When Jesus was here in physical form, His could only be in one place at a time. By leaving, He could return in the form of the Holy Spirit and be with each and every person across the globe, all at the same time, and throughout all time.
The “Advocate” that Jesus was referring to in John 16:7 that would come in place of His physical presence is the Holy Spirit. That word in the original Greek is “paraclete” and translated by different Bible translations as Helper, Comforter, Counselor, Intercessor, Companion, and Friend.
Strong’s Dictionary of the Bible defines “paraclete” as “summoned, called to one’s side, esp. called to one’s aid.”
Isn’t that amazing? The Holy Spirit has been summoned — called to our side — to be with us constantly as our Helper, Companion, and Friend. He is present to listen to us, talk to us, help us, counsel us, guide us, and comfort us. We are never alone because He is with us.
God With Us and In Us
Not only is Jesus with us, He is in us. And not only is He in us, but we are in Him. He surrounds us and fills us with Himself. You can’t get more intimate than that!
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.John 14:16-21 NIV
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.Galatians 2:20 NIV
“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”Ephesians 3:17a NIV
“Christ in you, the hope of glory.”Colossians 1:27b NIV
Intimate Friend and Constant Companion
So what does this mean in practical, everyday life?
It means we have Someone with us always who loves us more than we can ever imagine. He’s here to help us fulfill the purpose He created us for, to show us what that is, and to provide everything we need.
We don’t have to enter into His presence because we’re already in His presence. His presence is around us and within us. We can’t escape His presence, as the Psalmist said so beautifully in Psalm 139:7-12. And why would we want to? He’s our Everything in every situation.
There’s a phrase I hear sometimes, and I cringe every time. When something wonderful happens, someone might say, “God showed up!” Well, I have good news for them. God never left! He’s been with them all along, through the good and the bad. He’s always working on our behalf. We don’t have to wait for Him to show up!
To close, I’d like to share a quote by Sandra Parker. I don’t know her, but I love the way she explains the name Emmanuel:
“You will find in the word Emmanuel, Em, which in the Hebrew is IM. It is an intimate fellowship in all of your life, a Person with whom you are in contact every day, all day long. This is God’s commitment to you.”Sandra Parker
May you find that intimate fellowship with Jesus in all of your life, every day, all day long!