“Christmas is not a date; it is a state of mind” – Mary Ellen Chase
And then Santa comes with his peculiar style offering gifts to the children loudly giggling and eagerly waiting to open their packages and then the party is over, to be celebrated again the next year. Is Christmas this long party, giving of gifts, attending Church and wishing each other only or something beyond that? Mary rejoiced much before that particular day and sang “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:46-48). An unwed virgin peasant girl celebrating an event that could become the cause of great dishonor for her and her family and lead to her death by stoning. What is the meaning and implication of the birth of this child for us today to rejoice and praise God?
What is the real name of the Savior? – Christmas is ‘Christ Mass’ or celebrating Christ and the coming of the promised Messiah called Christos – ‘the Anointed One’ by the Greek followers giving Jesus the prominent suffix to His name that was declared by the angel before His birth. The actual name of the Savior is supposed to be unknown “He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself” (Revelation 19:12) and this is supposed to be YHWH which the Jews never pronounce and we call Jehovah. Out of various other names the one used repeatedly in the Old Testament and one such example is Isaiah 62:11 where the Hebrew letters VWHY are used and the translation is “Behold, thy salvation comes” and thereafter the verse explains that His reward shall be in His hand, thus implying that the word rendered as “salvation” should be Savior instead. For He knows what His work is and His reward is also ready and He is able to do His work. So what is His real name for it is important that we know this for “every knee must bow before this name”? and if we call on the wrong name, how do we receive a correct response? Jesus is actually the name given by the Greek language writers but He was a Jew and had a Jewish name.
The Hebrew name given to the Lord was “VWHY” which is translated as YAHUSHA and this is the name mentioned in the Epistle to the Hebrews and is mentioned with Joshua son of Nun, the commander to lead Israelites into the ‘promised land’ after Moses. In both cases the name has the same letters of Hebrew language for Joshua and Jesus and this word when written in Greek has been tendered as VIshouj and mentioned as I-ay-sous for this is closest to the Hebrew words for VWHY mentioned as Joshua (Hebrews 4:8). While this was being translated into the English language the “I” was replaced by “J”, a usual occurrence; “ay” was shortened to “e” and the “sous” was replaced by “sus”. Thus a shorter version of Hebrew “Yahusha” was changed to “I-ay-sous” in Greek and “Jesus” in English.
Why should name matter for His role remains the same? – The importance of the Hebrew name emerges from the prophecy concerning Him “Behold, the Lord has proclaimed unto the end of the world. Say to the daughter of Zion, Behold, your salvation comes; behold, His reward is with Him, and his work before Him (Isaiah 62:11). As seen earlier salvation here means Savior and the word Jesus does not convey the meaning that the angel had decreed to Joseph that He would “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The Hebrew word YWHY is translated as “Yahu saves” and the name Yhusha or Yahusha represents this saving trait of the Messiah. This name has also been referred to as Yahoshu but Yahusha is His name given by God the Father.
What is the relation of the name and His actual role? – There are a total of seven persons mentioned in the Bible whose names were declared by God before they were born and in each case very important events concerning the Israelites and humanity were associated with them. Lord Jesus’ name specifies two major aspects of His role on the earth- firstly, Immanuel- that God came down from heaven to live with men. God came out of the veil to take the form of a man to fully reveal Himself and to restore the broken relationship. Secondly, He came as a Savior Yahusha, to save us and redeem us from the clutches of Satan by paying the full penalty for our sins. The two names thus reveal the works that He came to perform and any distortion of the names amounts to lack of full understanding of the Divine blessings provided through Him.
Why did God become a man? – At the time of creation there was darkness on the face of the earth and the Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters. Lucifer the covering Cherub, who was expelled from heaven for his rebellious act of trying to exalt himself like God, was in the Garden of Eden (Ezekiel 28:13-14). Lucifer was called ‘the morning star’ and was “thrown down to the earth” and then his evil intent to “be like the Most High” is mentioned followed by his future “to be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths” (Isaiah 14:12-15). The All-Knowing God was well aware of this situation when through the power of the Holy Spirit, God decided to reveal the glory of His Living Word “and there was light”.
The Word then proceeded to complete the creative process and man was created to ‘be a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor’ (Psalm 8:5) to be fully allied to the earth but being in the ‘image and likeness of God’ to be aligned with spiritual beings in the soul. Man was separated from all other creatures and was given the authority to reign over them. But God provided man the free option to choose between the darkness and light; the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And man decided to opt for self sufficiency by acquiring the knowledge of good and evil and disobey God by eating the ‘forbidden fruit’. Man who was made to be a “Priest” to daily meet and worship God and to be “King” and rule over all other forms of creation, was deprived of all this due to his sin of disobedience.
The curse for eating the fruit was “you shall surely die” and Adam and Eve did die spiritually immediately and their revival and restoration was only possible with a sinless sacrificial offering. The veil between God and man could only be removed by this means and the Savior arrived to open the way into the Holiest of Holies.
What was God’s plan in the creation of Man? – The earth was ‘void and dark’ and God had already expelled Lucifer; the morning star to the earth for his rebellion. God was well aware of this situation and still created man “a little lower than the angels” and placed him in the Garden of Eden where Lucifer was (Ezekiel 28:15). Obviously God wanted man to live a sinless life of obedience to Him and be victorious over darkness and evil. But He neither desired blind nor forced following and the option of choice was made available to man. The final message to the seven churches in Revelation is clear about this and each believer is asked to “overcome” and the one who does so is promised certain rewards. The rewards range from the fruit of the Tree of Life to the final sharing of the place on the Royal throne of the Lord (Revelation 2:7; 11; 17 & 26-28 and 3:5; 12 and 21). God breathed His life into us at the time of creation and this places a permanent desire in us to know Him and worship Him.
Jesus’ role in the creation and restoration process – The Gospel of John reveals the Lord Jesus’ role in the whole creation process and He as the Word was God, became flesh and dwelt with us and “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3). Apostle Paul enlightened by the Holy Spirit further clarifies the issue “from Him, through Him and for Him are all things” (Romans 11:36). He is the Creator and in Him is everything’s sustenance and all things exist for Him. The lost glory of creation required restoration and the veil of separation between God and man had to be removed and the responsibility and ability rested in the Savior Lord.
Love of God is repeatedly manifested in the universe, firstly in the process of creation, then again His love is visible in restoration through His Son and thirdly in sanctification and transformation through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Son shows the way of exaltation and glory, that Adam and Eve attempted through acquiring knowledge and failed, through total surrender to the Father by submitting His body, soul and spirit to His Divine will to become man, suffer extreme humiliation and torture- physical and spiritual through separation and isolation, to receive exalted status before whom “every knee must bow”. The Son executes the plan of creation of the Father and then suffers to restore the same creation from its fallen state to the original.
How was the restoration achieved? – Man in his fallen and sinful nature faced the veil of separation between God and himself and in that state he was/is unable to perceive the glory of God. “The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel that displays (reveals) the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). The temptation of Eve was to make them like God through the eating of the forbidden fruit and devil does not want that they realize the true nature of God to keep them under bondage to the falsehood perpetrated by him. God revealed His truth to man, first through the prophets and the Ten Commandments are a list of what He likes and dislike helping man change himself. Finally, Son of God comes Himself to reveal the true nature of God “to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith” (Acts 26:18).
Forgiveness could be made available to man only when he realized his sin and this was only possible by revealing the truth to him, since only “the truth can set man free” (john 8:32). John the Baptist did issue a clarion call to everyone to repent and people did obey but still nothing changed for the reality had not yet dawned on them. The daily deliberations of God with Adam and Eve were to reveal His Divine nature fully to them and the same was interrupted through sin. On the earth Satan was/is the only one who had been in the presence of God and he turns us from seeking Him and “No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known” (John 1:18). Once we realize the true nature of God, it then becomes obvious to us the lie that we are living and we repent and seek forgiveness. But forgiveness can only be possible through full retribution being made according to the demand of the Just God- sin led from sinless life to death and for change from death to life the compensation would have to be death of someone sinless. Son of God, the sinless man, met the full demands of justice and through that sacrifice He gets all the authority and dominion back from the devil.
Our Savior prayed to God to accept His sacrifice and grant the originally planned oneness with Him through the Son (John 17:21). A believer is first granted union with the Son, our Lord Jesus, who then takes us into the presence of God inside the Holiest of Holies, beyond the veil. This union is then cemented with man while he is yet in this world through the pouring out on him of the Holy Spirit, the third partner of the Holy Trinity, since man has been cleansed with the shed blood of the Lord Jesus (Revelation 7:14). It is only this restored state that God can have any union with man and His Spirit then proceeds to complete the process of transformation of man into the revealed image of God in His Son through a gradual work of “conviction of sin” and repentance.
What is the final effect of knowing the Lord Jesus on man? – The power of the Holy Spirit brought God out of the veil to be Immanuel and after His ascension to heaven prepares us with the ‘sprinkling of His blood’ from heaven to enter the Holiest of Holies as Priests. The Holy Spirit through this anointing of His dwelling in us brings about complete union with God and “helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us” (Romans 8:26). Thus with and in the Holy Spirit priesthood is restored to man with ability given to worship God.
The Lord commanded the disciples to go and preach the Gospel to others in all nations and man is thus appointed as an Ambassador of God to represent Him before others. Man is empowered to ask anything “in the name of the One who is Victorious” and as His agent rules over the evil forces in the authority of a judge that “whatsoever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 18:18). Man’s kingship is restored and in the name and authority of the Lord, he exercises judgement over the evil forces.
The Lord reminds man about what was done to him by the devil in the Garden of Eden where he lost everything and all authority vested in man was “stolen” by Satan through deceit. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and have it in all its fullness” (John 10:10). The abundance was manifested in the Old Testament by Him in the wilderness for forty years by providing ‘Manna’ everyday to feed them, despite their sinful ways and the same was on display in the wilderness to feed to their fill five thousand men and their families (Matthew 14:13-21). The withdrawn heavenly supply of abundance is restored by the Lord when we come to Him in want, in absolute submission to Him, with whatever we have and our focus is shifted from self effort to fulfillment by God.
The message of Christmas is to celebrate the presence of Immanuel in us to bring us before the throne of grace and mercy of God and worship Him. The God from without comes within to transform our lives of sin and lack into fellowship with God and abundance. This is the gift that God has given to us and this gift is for all of creation and not limited to a select few. Our responsibility is to humbly submit to His authority to seek His presence in us and to fill us with His love that it overflow from us into others’ lives.
Celebrate, for Immanuel is here!