What Immanuel Means to Me

We are not alone – that’s the most important theme of Christmas to me.

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After all, we only get 22 verses into the first gospel and read:

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

It is the story of God throughout Bible history and his interactions with us – he wants to be with us!

After Adam and Eve made the fateful and fatal choice in the Garden, we see God came to them seeking our first parents. He came near to Noah in order to help save a remnant of humanity through the purging of the Flood.

He came to Abram, called him out of his familiar surroundings and then said to go to a land that will be given to his children. Indeed, “all peoples will blessed through you” was the why behind the call.

After showing up for the Hebrews in Egypt, God told Moses, “Have them make a sanctuary for me and I will dwell with them.” Exodus 25:8. And while it changed forms, for hundreds of years the children of Israel worshiped God who came to them through the sacrificial system he personally showed them with incredible detail.

In Person, Really?

But to show up in person? As a live human being? It was never heard of! No other religion would have thought up such a plan as to take on the nature of the very ones deserving only punishment and separation from him! Amazing grace.

So, when the ancient prophet Isaiah first penned the words now further enshrined in the gospel of Matthew to reveal the fulfillment of God’s intention as a human being, it’s more than words on a page. It’s not some cleverly made up story we humans have devised to try and find comfort in a dying world. Instead of us trying to find it – God himself provides the best answer.

“God with us” means we never have to go looking for a solution to any of our problems or shortcomings. It means the answer to any of our questions about existence or happiness or joy are found the quiet scene of a baby coming to our planet, incarnated as a microscopic embryo at first, 9 months in the womb of a healthy young girl and delivered to us through the pain of childbirth.

It’s the Answer the World Seeks

God became one of us and he is the answer to all of life’s perplexities. If he’s the answer – if the answer is in a person – it can also mean the questions surrounding all we’ve been through and all we’ll ever go through may not show up in ways we expected. After all, in order to save us from ourselves and to ultimately deliver us from this dark world into a world of pure light, he took on the most vulnerable state any human could: an infant born in stable! Is that how we might thought to rescue the entire human race? I doubt it!

But God isn’t done. The quiet and lonely, the cry and pain – it all goes away. This world has been rescued. We have a promise based on the the history that he came the first time and here it is:

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4

I hope we can better grasp the significance of this promise. I hope you can. I know I do, sort of. It’s fun to imagine. It brings tears of hope and joy to my eyes to believe and see in my mind what it will be like to always have God with us in person, always visibly accessible.

That’s ultimately what Immanuel means to me. God with us for eternity.

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