Summary: Jesus was Immanuel, God with us, but God has always been with His people and He is with us still.
God With Us
Jesus, our Immanuel
December 11, 2005
I want to open this morning by reading a passage we usually don’t think of as part of a Christmas message. But bear with me – I think we’ll see the connection clearly as we move along.
Romans 8:31 If God is for us, who can be against us?
And then verse 35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?
This pair of rhetorical questions is a good place for us to start examining one of the great truths of scripture, as well as the key truth in this Christmas season we celebrate.
Matthew 1:23 (NIV) "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
This Matthew passage is a very familiar verse this time of year. But we really miss something if we stop where we usually do in thinking about this passage. This passage is about the incarnation. That is, Jesus, the Word become flesh, who dwelt among us. God in human form. God as one of us, God with us. We think of this verse prophetically, and rightly so, because Isaiah spoke this verse hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus.
This verse is a clear predictive prophecy of the birth of Jesus. Because of that, we understand this verse prophetically, and this is a good thing. It’s also important for us to consider the theological implications of this idea. Jesus was God in the flesh. Jesus was, in fact, God with us. He was born in a manger, He walked the earth, He ate, He slept, He was cold on cold mornings, and sweated on warm days. He was hungry. He was thirsty. He grieved, He suffered. He laughed. He experienced joy and sorrow. In other words, the maker of the universe, the one who flung the stars in the heavens, the one who formed the mountains and the seas, the one who created each of us, this very same God, was with us in the flesh.
He was just as real as the person sitting next to you. People could touch Him. If they shook His hand, it was warm. If they rubbed their hands on His face, they felt the stubble of His beard. If they watched him sleep, his chest moved up and down as He breathed…a lot like some of you do when I preach…
He was a real, living, breathing, human being. He was One who bled like we bleed when we get a cut, but He was One who bled and died for us. Yet at the same time, He was fully God. He never ceased to be God, even as He was God in the flesh, God with us.
These are awesome truths. They’re important for us to remember this Christmas season, and always. But if we stop there, I think we miss something important.
Singer/songwriter and author Michael Card says:
We focus so much on the fact that Jesus died for us, we sometimes forget that He also lived for us, and lives for us still.
Think about that for a moment. When Jesus ascended into heaven, and Jesus was Immanuel, did that mean that God was no longer with us? Jesus walking the earth wasn’t the first time God was with us, and when Jesus ascended into heaven, that wasn’t the end of God with us.
Yes, it’s true, Jesus was a unique picture of God with us. Jesus was God in the flesh. But God is with us in other ways besides the person of Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life…He is the second person of God, come to dwell among us…and in that sense, Jesus was truly unique.
But God has always been with His people, and He is with His people still.
As early as Genesis, we see God with His people. We see Him speaking to His people, interacting with them. Well, you might think, that didn’t mean He was with them. Even we can speak to someone we’re not with. If we finite creatures can speak to someone halfway around the world on a telephone, then clearly God can speak to His people without being with them.
But as early as Genesis 26, we see God saying that He will be with His people.
Genesis 26:3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.
The Old Testament is chock full of instances where God tells someone He is with them, or will be with them. We’ll look at the unique implications of some of those in a moment. And lest we think that ended when Jesus ascended into heaven, and was no longer the living God walking the earth as one of us, consider this passage, these words of Jesus to His followers: