Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. (Matthew 1:23 KJV)
We sing this name at Christmastime. "O come, O come, Emmanuel; and ransom captive Israel . . ." We read it in the story of Jesus' birth. It is wound into the fabric of this holiday, and yet we skim over its significance.
God with us.
God. Creator of the universe, the One whose words caused a sun to flame into being and a world to burst forth. The One who hung and named the stars, the One who formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into his lungs. The King of all the kings that have ever been or ever will be; the Lord over every lord. A God so big we can't even begin to comprehend Him, a God who has no beginning or end because He always is. Just a glimpse of His power and majesty is enough to bring us to our knees. This is God.
With. This God pitched His tent among the sweltering throng of humanity. He entered this world in the weakest form possible, in the humblest place possible. He immersed Himself in our reality, in our lives of depravity. He walked the broken shards of our earth. The Author entered the story. Trading the glory of heaven for the constraints of mortal skin, He lived among us. And more than just being here physically, He was with us. On our side. Taking deep interest in us. Piecing our broken parts back together. Feeling our pain and joy and eventually sacrificing absolutely everything for our sake.
Us. Human beings, each one flawed. Individuals with struggles and cravings and skewed vision and inflated egos and world-trampled hearts. Not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, yet graced with the presence of One who was completely man and yet completely God—the Perfect One. He could have shrunk back from our mess, but instead He waded right into it. And His entry changed everything.
Emmanuel—God with us—is the reason Christmas means so much. With this day we celebrate the beginning of what changed the world two thousand years ago. What changes us.
Again I say rejoice
For unto us is born
The Savior of the world
Oh weary soul, take heart
For help is on its way
And holy is His name
This Christmas, remember the Savior who promises to be with you; who is right beside you now. He was born to die so that we might live. Indeed, the manger in which He was laid, contrary to popular belief, was actually carved not from wood but from stone, symbolizing the rocky tomb not far in His future.
Whatever your holidays look like this year—whether you're sitting around the glowing tree with your family or grieving a loved one or wishing the rifts in your world would mend—Jesus is with you. Never will He forsake you.
Emmanuel. God with us. God with me. God with you.