Sunday, December 12, 2010

Immanuel: God is Always With Us

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23)

Excerpt from “The Fulfilled Promise of God” – 2010-12-12
A story is told a grandfather found his grandson jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When little Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up with his little chubby hands and said, "Out, Grampa, out." It was only natural for the grandfather to reach down to lift him out of his predicament, but as he did the mother of the child stepped in and said: "No, Johnnie, you are being punished--so you must stay in." The grandfather was at a loss to know what to do. The child’s tears and little hands reached deep into his heart. But the mother’s firmness in correcting her son could not be taken lightly. But the grandfather found a way to help his grandson. He could not take the little boy out of the playpen, and so he climbed in with him. That is what God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, did for us at the cross. That is the meaning of Christmas. In leaving heaven for earth God climbed into our punishment for sin “with us.” The Bible says: "The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us." C. S. Lewis put it this way: “God became man to enable men to become the sons of God.”

Yet, God was not just “with us” the few years that Jesus walked on this earth. On the night just before he was arrested and nailed to the cross Jesus made the following promise to those who would follow him: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever . . . whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14:16-17). God also fulfilled the promise - as God breathed His life-giving Spirit into us at creation, and as He breathed His Holy Spirit into Mary so she would conceive Jesus, so Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit into God’s people at Pentecost. Jesus is still “with us” because the Bible tells us that after he was crucified, died, rose from the dead and then ascended into heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to live within us. God, in Jesus Christ, came to be “with us” by the power the Holy Spirit – and God, in Jesus Christ, is now within us by the presence of the Holy Spirit. What this means is that God is “with us” as this very moment and “with us” forever, because Jesus is “with us” at this very moment and “with us” forever – because the Holy Spirit is within us at this very moment and within us forever.

Jesus promised us it would be so. In Matthew 28:18-20 we read that Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Jesus Christ is “Immanuel” is “God . . . always . . . with us” – the fulfilled promise of God.