Mary cries out in labor pains as Jesus comes into the world. Soon the silence of the night is broken by the cries of this holy infant; Immanuel (God with us) Wrapped in swaddling clothes, Jesus lies in a manger in Bethlehem surrounded by his parents Mary and Joseph. This holy infant sent to save the world. “For God so loved the world that God gave Gods only son that whoever believes in him may not perish but have eternal life. Indeed God did not send God’s son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world may be saved through him.” (John 3:16-17)
Jesus hangs on the cross crying out “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” With dry parched lips, he exclaims, “I thirst.” With a crown of thorns on his head and nails in his hands and feet, he breathes his last. The crowd gathered stands in awe and utter silence. Gently, Jesus is taken down from the cross and is wrapped in burial cloth. They place his body in the tomb and roll the stone in front of it.
Three days later, women return to the tomb and find the stone rolled away. Jesus’ body is no longer in the tomb. Jesus has been raised. Life not death has the ultimate word. “Easter says you can put death in the grave, but it won’t stay there.” In this promise, we declare our trust in Immanuel; God with us.
God with us in the manger in Bethlehem. God with us as Jesus breaks bread with tax collectors and sinners. God with us as Jesus offers lifegiving water to the women at the wall. God with us on Maundy Thursday as Jesus washes the disciples feet even those who will deny and betray him. God with us on the cross as Jesus breathed his last. God with us when the world is broken and fractured. God with us when we are afraid. God with us in both our mourning and dancing. God with us at all times because God promises to never leave us or forsake us.
In the promise of Immanuel; God with us, let us trust in this profound scandalous love that comes in the life, death and resurrection of God’s Son. A love that is born in a manger in Bethlehem and that dies for our sins as Jesus hangs that dark Friday night as he breathes his last. A love that rises again on Easter morning as life not death has the final world.