With Christmas just past, I’ve been thinking about one of the names by which Jesus was announced: Immanuel, “God with us.”
“God with us” was a prophetic name first uttered by Isaiah in a prophecy (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew tells us Jesus fulfilled this prophetic appellation when he was born (Matt. 1:23).
Jesus’s birth as a human baby (known as the incarnation) was truly awesome. Still, I’ve had another aspect of “God with us” on my mind. You might call it “the ongoing incarnation.”
Jesus being born as a human was just the beginning of “God with us” in a new way. Being born among us was a sign that God would be born *in* us. The Lord planned a nativity in our souls, elsewhere described in the New Testament as “Christ in you.”
I have been so blessed by meditating on this! “God with us” communicates commitment, a relational devotion that doesn’t change. Jesus’s last words on earth (as recorded by Matthew) were, “I am with you always….” (Matt. 28:20). “God with us” allows us to experience Jesus’s promise through His spiritual indwelling. Jesus doesn’t come and go depending on how cleaned up our souls are. He stays, even when we get smelly and beastly; He remains God’s gift within just as He remained in the stable of Bethlehem.
It’s significant Jesus was laid in a manger. A manger is not the building where animals are kept but the trough from which animals eat. Jesus, who would one day call Himself the bread of life, was laid in a feeding trough in the town of Bethlehem (which means “House of Bread”).
Experiencing “God with us”, Jesus within, nourishes our hearts in a way nothing else can. When God gave His people manna in the wilderness, He instructed each person to gather an omer’s worth (Exodus 16:16). (The omer was a measurement). Exodus says, “When they measured by the omer, the person who gathered a lot had no surplus, and the person who gathered a little had no shortage” (Exodus 16:18). Jesus is exactly what we need. He isn’t too much or too little. He satisfies perfectly.
I pray God’s people would know, ever more deeply, the wonder of “God with us.” The beauty of the Lord is incomparable! To paraphrase the carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful”: “Word of the Father, now in our flesh appearing–O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord!”