“’and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means God with us)”
Is there no sweeter sound than Immanuel? Christ’s name, God with us. Those three words heal an ocean of hurts, give courage to the weakest heart, and lifts the head of the weariest pilgrim. In those three words all of our hope rests.
“For by him all things were created. He is the beginning. For in him all the fullness of God was please to dwell. He is preeminent.”
The Creator became part of creation. The Creation creates Himself a human hand in order to join hands with His creation. Life comes to die. Love comes to be hated. Jesus, the Christ child, the God man, sustained all of creation while he was being born. He was God, yet he stooped down to us. He came to us. He lived a life of restrained power. Only using his deity to help and to heal. The crippled walk again, the blind able to see, dead people alive, disease and sickness healed. And if all this wasn’t enough He “saved people from their sin.” His most awe inspiring display of power was when he was stripped, mocked, beaten, humiliated, and finally murdered. There on that cross he did accomplish the unimaginable; Forgiveness of sins. Then he followed that by being raised for our justification. Perfectly forgiven, perfectly holy, that is now our record.
This God, the sustainer of all, the first and the last, He is with us. The holidays can be a lonely time for so many of us. In the midst of the laughter and the celebrations we can feel isolated. We look around and it seems like every other person has everything we want, friends, family, happiness. Or maybe you have lost a loved one, and this time of the year increases the ache to see them again and that ache makes you feel empty. Or maybe you look at your life and think what am I doing here? Why is my family a mess, why don’t I have any friends? The temptations to despair are abounding. We see friends giving other friends presents, we hear about the best party ever, we see pictures on social media and the empty ache creeps in and invades your soul. To you, to those of you feeling the longing for something better, something more, Jesus speaks his name to you “God WITH us”.
He has come to share in your sorrow, “man of sorrows acquainted with grief” to understand your temptations, “he was tempted in every way we are, yet without sin” to bear the punishment for your sin, “and being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death”. The word “with” is the incarnation. God taking on skin. God who is close. God that identifies with us. He is not far off, somewhere in the sky looking down disapprovingly. His very name declares his desire to be a God who is near. From his first breath in that manger until his last breath at Calvary he was determined to bring a people to Himself, to save us from our sin and shame. He came to clear the way, to do away with the one thing that was blocking being together. He came to be with us.
Us is a community word. It is a “we are all in this one together” word. If find it easy to look on others and think, “yeah, I can see God with them.” But listen to His name one more time, God with us. In this broken community we tend to compare and try and find our worth or identity in how we measure up to each other, but God levels the field with the word “us”. He is not just with you, but he is with every other believer too. He has taken the most disjointed, banged up, disaster of a community and joined us together with the word Us. We are not joined together because we are the good ones, we are joined together because of the everlasting goodness of a loving Father who freely adopts rebels and turns them into sons and daughters.
He truly is God with us. Rest there a while, beloved. Rest in His intimate love for you. Rest in His all sustaining power. Rest in His closeness. Rest in Immanuel.