This week I swept my wife away for a romantic getaway in the woods of Milton, Ontario. We left our daughter in the delightful care of her grandparents. We ate dinner at a beautiful bistro, talked until twilight, and slept in a cozy B&B. My most favorite memory of out time together was snuggling close and enjoying one another’s presence. There is safety, comfort and love in the presence of the one you love.
So it is with God—our Heavenly Maker. There is comfort and security in His presence. Throughout Scripture the theme of God’s presence with His people is a thread that weaves through the pages of Scripture [138 X’s, through people and promises].
Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:22–23 [Read Matthew 1:18-25]
Does anything fill you with awe or wonder in those verses? The Incarnation is the noblest idea of any world religion. God did not watch human despair from the safety of heaven. He clothed Himself in humanity. He ceased watching the human war and became a soldier. Oh, the things that God experienced in becoming a man:
- the blistering summer sun,
- the shivering rains of winter,
- the hunger and thirst when He fasted after His baptism,
- the rejection of those who walked away in unbelief,
- the sorrow when His earthly father died,
- the pain of Peter denials,
- the betrayal by His friend Judas,
- the disappearance of all friends at His arrest in Gethsemane,
- the horror of naked judgment with no one to speak on His behalf,
- the empathy of a mother’s tears when she stood at the cross,
- the torture of crucifixion although innocent and guiltless,
- the agony of death,
- the loneliness of being forsaken by everyone.
All these things—when compiled together-spell Immanuel. These things are what the God of all mercy took upon Himself.
But why did He do it? It’s because these sorts of things form the fabric of all of our living. We cannot live without scrapes and pains, without heartache and sadness, without mosquito bites and cancer. Immanuel was God saying, “You shall not bear such pain alone.” God became flesh to redeem. Jesus stepped onto His created soil stained with sin and became the living sacrifice taking upon Himself the scorching wrath of God to save you and me.
Let Jesus be incarnate in your life, and then maybe when you have stooped to serve the desperate and dying, you will hear them say the word Immanuel. When Christ becomes incarnate in your life, you will hear those you serve saying to you, “I cannot help but believe in Christ. I have seen Him in your life.”
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. [1 Corinthians 2:1—5]
How does Immanuel give comfort/security when you receive bad news? Have a hard workweek? Deal with daily stress? In what ways can you counsel friends or family around you with the promise of Immanuel?
Lord, be incarnate in me. Make me an instrument of Your incarnation. Live in me until my life is so submerged in Yours that I am invisible. Wherever I go, whatever I do, may I hear those around me breathe the word Immanuel, suggesting that I am nothing and You are everything.