“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).”
Say it slowly: “God with us.” Say it again: “God with us.” Repeat the Hebrew equivalent: “Immanuel.” Does it have a familiar ring to it? Too familiar?
I’m amazed the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ holds no more wonder to me than it does. When the angel announced to Mary that she would be the human vehicle by which Immanuel would enter this world, she was overcome with reverential fear and awe. The same held true for Joseph and the Judean shepherds: an unearthly sense of wonder, adoration, mystery, mixed with a deep feeling of humility that they were the privileged recipients of such knowledge. “Immanuel … God with us”!
The God who did mighty and marvelous exploits among his people from the earliest times had now come among his people to be “with” them—God himself. The miracle of the Red Sea crossing pales in comparison to “Immanuel—God with us”! The thunderings and lightnings on Sinai, at the giving of the Law—what is that in view of Immanuel—God himself coming in the flesh to live “with” his people? After a history of tabernacle and temple worship, after listening to the prophets read week after week, after teaching their children faithfully about the coming Messiah—suddenly he is “with” them!
Interestingly enough, in the Matthew 1 narrative, Joseph is told by the angel to name the child “Jesus” (1:21). However, when it comes to his name “Immanuel,” the text reads, “they shall call his name Immanuel” 1:23). In other words, whenever believing men and women looked upon the Word made flesh, “they” would say among themselves, “Immanuel—God is with us.”
It is a historical fact that God took on himself human flesh some two thousand years ago—conceived by the Holy Spirit, laid in a manger, walked among men, was crucified, and on the third day arose from the grave. That’s a fact.
The question: Is Immanuel now “with” you? If not, invite him to be “with” you today.
Reprinted from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
paperback and Kindle editions available at Amazon.com