16th December 2022

God with us

‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).
Matthew 1:23 (NIVUK)

Christmas is supposed to be the time when families and friends get together to enjoy one another’s company, and yet so often it’s the season of the year that is marked by loneliness for many people. What is meant to be a joyous time, in fact reveals the emptiness of people’s lives. It is into this all-too-common experience that the revelation that Jesus is ‘God with us’ speaks.

In the name Immanuel, Matthew tells us three things about Jesus that satisfy the longing and resonate with the loneliness of every human heart.

First, Jesus is God. He was not conceived by Joseph but by the Holy Spirit (v. 20; Luke 1:35). Jesus himself claimed he was God (John 10:30-33). This was the testimony of the disciples (John 20:28), and Paul leaves us in no doubt when he wrote ‘For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…’ (Colossians 2:9). The baby born at Bethlehem was none other than the creator God who came to his creation, taking on our flesh.

Secondly, Jesus is with us. God is not distant in a faraway galaxy but has drawn close to be with us. This is emphasised in the original Greek translation of this verse by placing ‘with’ at the beginning of the phrase – ‘With us [he is] God.’ (Matthew 1:23 YLT). Jesus wants a close intimate relationship with us. He is with us through all the experiences of life, from becoming a dependent baby, to all the struggles of childhood, his teenage years and adulthood. He experienced bereavement when Lazarus died, suffered rejection when he was deserted at the cross, and tasted death as all humanity does. He knows and understands our troubles and trials and so can sympathise with us (Hebrews 4:15).

And thirdly, Jesus, God in the flesh, is with us. This ‘us’ is inclusive of everybody: no one is excluded; God is with us all. In Luke’s birth narrative he writes, “…the angel said to [the shepherds], ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.’ ” (Luke 2:10 emphasis mine). This includes shepherds who were regarded as the lowest of the low, and the Gentile Magi who came bearing gifts. The call of the gospel is come whoever you are, and Jesus will give you the rest you need (Matthew 11:28).

So, if you are feeling lonely, despondent, or unloved at this time of the year, there is no greater Christmas message than knowing that in Jesus, God is with us. May you feel his presence this Christmas, and throughout the years to come.

Prayer
Our loving Father, please give us the joy, assurance, and peace of knowing that Jesus is God with us, and that he will never leave or forsake us. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.

Study by Barry Robinson

 

About the writer:
Barry Robinson is a minister in Grace Communion International and Regional Pastor for Southern England.

Local congregation:
Grace Communion International Camberwell
The Salvation Army Hall
105 Lomond Grove
Camberwell
London SE5 7HN

Local congregational contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: camberwell@gracecom.church 

Word of Life contact:
wordoflife@gracecom.church