Immanuel (or “Emmanuel”) means that God is with us. This is the Christmas message–that God became to be with us in flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matt.1:23 NKJV)
But do we really understand the full implication of this statement? It’s tragic that we can so easily turn it into little more than a holiday nursery rhyme.
In an attempt to put this in its proper light, I will look at two different aspects of what this means to me. I will share these aspects in two parts.
The Greek word for “with” here is μετά (meta) and it’s important for us to know what it means. It means “to be on the same side of, to aid.”
So not only is God here with us, but He’s also on our side.
The time has come! It has begun. The Father’s plan for mankind from before the foundation of the world has finally been launched. The Divine invasion force has made its beachhead. For He has sent His Chosen One, His only begotten Son–Jesus–God’s “boots on the ground!”
The Everlasting Father, the Lord of the hosts, the God of the angel armies has now come onto the scene of our human struggle. The promised Deliverer has come! For He has ruled in our favor and is now living with us and is for us.
And He has come to utterly defeat anything that hell could throw at us. To use the Western movie vernacular, the cavalry is here!
God is shouting at our accusers and His enemies, “BE STILL!!! Know that I AM God!” (This is the context of Psalm 46:10). Oh yes! He will certainly be exalted among the nations.
For if the “LORD of the Sabaoth” is for us, who dares be against us! (Rom.8:31)
Suddenly, the heavenly hosts break into our earthly realm, lighting up the sky and most gloriously declaring to the most humble of humanity the most significant thing we could ever know…
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people He favors!” (Luke 2:14 HCSB)
This weary world was about to experience something most glorious, most liberating, most captivating–something beyond our wildest dreams and hopes, so full of love beyond anything we could measure.
It sounds too good to be true because it’s God Himself! And this is why we only end up trivializing this reality in our frustrating attempts to fully understand it.
For this world was about to experience what God is really like–in flesh and blood–and not anything like the gods of their vain imaginations.
I like this particular translation because it brings out what the traditional, “good will toward men” actually means. The Greek word here is εὐδοκία (eudokia) and it means good favor, purpose, and intention.
In other words, God’s intention toward you and me is really good!
Do you understand what I’m saying here? You are not alone anymore. God is with you and for you.
And He has come to destroy the works of the evil one who has taken us captive.
Jesus stated this purpose later in Luke 4:18. And He demonstrated God’s intention for mankind when He made the blind see, the lame walk, when He healed the sick, set the oppressed free and raised the dead to life. This is God’s “good and acceptable and perfect will.” His favor. We don’t need to guess what it is anymore.
And Jesus was quoting Isaiah 61. It’s fascinating to see just how much is in the first three verses (Isaiah 61:1-3). Here’s a summarization of what it says Jesus came to do:
- DECLARE the good news that brings great joy!
- HEAL the wounded heart (bring emotional wholeness)
- Bring FREEDOM (truth) to those held captive to lies
- RELEASE (physical healing/spiritual deliverance) to those bound by Satan
- Proclaim God’s ACCEPTANCE and FAVOR
- COMFORT those who mourn (loss, regret, grief)
- To RE-APPOINT the dis-appointed of God’s people (what “console” means here)
- Turn our ashes (failures) into BEAUTY (testimonies)!
- Turn our mourning into JOY
- Turn our heaviness (anxieties, burdens, oppression) into PRAISE
- Change our IDENTITY from sinner to “righteous” (new creation!)
- To make us His SONS (“planting”) so that HE may be glorified!
As it’s been said, He is the God of the “instead.” And these are just some of the implications of “God with us!”
But as wonderful as this all this, there’s something much more wonderful.
You see, “God with us” is still the Old Covenant, which is where Jesus enters the scene. God was with Moses and the faithful of old too. But now something completely different has been inaugurated.
God not only came to be with us, but He also came so He could live in us. And even more wonderful that this, we can now live in God. This is truly glorious! That will be the subject of my next post.