“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).” (Matthew 1:23 ESV)
God with us.
In all that is said during the Christmas season is there anything more remarkable than this statement?
Jesus is Immanuel. Jesus is God with us.
Adam and Eve had experienced God with them when He walked among them in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8). But that intimate fellowship was broken at the Fall. Sin separated man from God’s presence. The saints longed for that relationship to be restored. The psalmist confessed: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42:2 ESV).
Job complained that God was not like him: “For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both” (Job 9:32-33 ESV). The gulf between God and man was too great. Who could ever bridge the gap? Who could possibly lay his hand on both God and man?
The answer came that night in Bethlehem when Immanuel was born. God the Son became man. Jesus is God with us as one of us.
While fully God, Christ became fully human. While sinless, He lived among sinners. Those who once longed for the presence of God could now say this: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 ESV).
The Son really became one of us in the flesh. He had eyes to see, ears to hear, a mouth to speak, hands to move, feet to walk. He felt joy and sorrow, comfort and suffering. He hungered and thirsted. He grew weary and needed rest. He experienced the human condition from birth to adulthood. God the Son humbled Himself in such a way that when He took on flesh He went through all the stages of life. He was a vulnerable little baby, a toddler, a young boy, a teenager, and adult. He experienced life as we do, yet without sin. “He had to be made like his brothers in every respect” (Hebrews 2:17 ESV).
By becoming the God-man, Jesus Christ brought God to man and man to God. He answered the plea of Job because He can lay His hand on us and on God. He is the “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5 ESV). And as God with us in human flesh, He accomplished His great work as Mediator when He “gave himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:6 ESV). Jesus was God with us in order to die for us and bring us back to God.
Immanuel has left God the Spirit with us (John 16:7). And one day the restoration of man’s relationship with God will be complete when we will see the face of God and experience “God with us” forever and ever:
“Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3 ESV)
All of this is because that baby born in Bethlehem was Immanuel – God with us.