Emmanuel, God with Us

It seems everywhere I turn this Christmas season I am bumping into this name – songs, Scripture, sermons, posts. I’ve learned that when something comes up repeatedly, it’s usually because God has something to speak into my heart.

So, I’ve sat with this word. This name. This essence of Christmas. And my heart has been filled, my imagination captured because of it.

The amazing truth is that God has always desired to be with men. Why? No answer really makes sense. There is nothing even to compare it to.

In a typical society, there is often a barrier between classes, even so far as a disdain of the lesser by those who are greater. But not with God.

He is so far above and beyond and yet His regard and even favor towards mankind is remarkable. He doesn’t lord his position over us. He doesn’t pridefully swoop in and put us in our place. Nor does He cause us to feel the inadequacy of being in His presence.

No. He comes down to us. He lays aside every pretense. And He does it boldly. He pursues us. He continues giving of Himself with no thought for Himself. Why? Because He created us for fellowship and He will stop at nothing to make that fellowship possible once again.

He is indeed, Emmanuel, God with us. He embodied Emmanuel in the past, is Emmanuel of our present and will be Emmanuel of the future as well.

Emmanuel Past

This is the story of Christmas – the point of it all. God incarnate here to dwell.

And 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)

God could have left man in the sinful predicament we created. He could have judged us harshly and wiped us out. But instead, He became one of us. Lived among us. Felt our sorrows. Bore our sins.

Imagine the price Jesus paid just by coming to earth (long before He ever died and paid the ultimate price). He was all-powerful and self-existent. He was present at creation speaking the world into being. He was perfectly unified and satisfied within the Godhead. And yet He left this ease to become a fully dependent baby in human flesh.

He was confined not just to a body, but to time and space. He was misunderstood for the first time in His life – even as a child. He experienced rejection and humiliation. He laid aside His rights and privileges and took on the nature of a servant. And He did it joyfully, with reckless abandon.

What person would show such love for another? Much less a deity. But this is our God. This is the depth of His love, the depth of His desire to be with us. And so, Emmanuel came in the simplest of ways to display the most profound love imaginable.

Emmanuel Present

The story of Christmas tells us of how God came to earth to be Emmanuel. In this name, we also see why He came. He came to love. To be God with you. Jesus, and the indwelling Holy Spirit make it possible for you to experience this Emmanuel in your personal, daily life. Jesus came so that God could dwell in and fill your heart.

This thought so moved the apostle Paul that you can practically hear the excitement in his voice as he writes in the book of Ephesians. (If you want to read a fuller context, read verses 14-19.)

and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself]. (Ephesians 3:19 AMP)

This verse encapsulates so many of the ideas of Emmanuel in our lives today.

  • God intends for us to have a personal experience with God. He is not distant.
  • This experience is far more than just a head knowledge.
  • Our being (emotions, personality, mind, soul) is to be filled with God.
  • The experience of God’s presence in our life is to be rich and good.
  • We can be completely filled and flooded with God Himself – not just ideas about Him or even just a love for Him, but with His very person.

This is what Jesus secured for us! This is what he desired from the foundation of the world. It is possible! We won’t experience this perfectly on earth but it can be an increasingly personal experience in our lives as we grow in intimacy with God who desires to be our Emmanuel today.

Emmanuel Future

There is an amazing promise in Revelation 21:3,

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “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.”

Isn’t this what God intended at the beginning? He had unbroken fellowship in the garden with Adam and Eve. He walked with them and talked with them. It was what He created life to be like. And it is what eternity will be. God dwelling with man. God as Emmanuel – only this time perfectly and without end.

Can you imagine the delight? The satisfaction? We will be with God. Not because of anything good or deserving in us. But because of God’s desire for fellowship and unbroken relationship and plan to make it possible.

God chose to pay the ultimate sacrifice and become Emmanuel at Christmas.

As a result, we can experience Emmanuel in our hearts today and look forward to experiencing the ultimate joy of Emmanuel for all eternity.

Doesn’t that make you want to sing out,

Hallelujah! what a Savior!

Hallelujah! what a friend!

Saving, helping, keeping, loving,

He is with me to the end.

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