Emmanuel: God with Us!

Posted on December 21, 2012 by Dr. Jerry Rankin in Rankin Connecting

RankinConnectingThere was no mistaking the identity of the baby born in Bethlehem that first Christmas. The angel declared to the shepherds,“ Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). He was Christ, the long-awaited Messiah promised to Israel centuries ago and predicted by the prophets.

He was a Savior, confirmed by the name “Jesus” as revealed to Joseph–”And you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). The Jews thought more in terms of a political savior saving them from Roman oppression, but the subsequent events of the cross brought clarity to His role as redeemer.

However, the most radical revelation in that three-fold identity was that this was none other than “the Lord,” a term used only for God. Men still struggle to get their minds around the concept that this was almighty, sovereign God incarnate who chose to come to earth  wrapped in human flesh as a baby.

His identity was expanded in Isaiah’s prophecy years before: “A child will be born to us, a son will be given to us…and His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Each one of these designations literally explodes with meaning as we look back in retrospect from an historical perspective of who Jesus was and what He did.

But the most meaningful identity for me is “Emmanuel.” God had revealed to Joseph why Mary had become pregnant as a virgin and her baby would be the one who would save the world. “They shall call His name Emmanuel, which translated means ‘God with us’” (Matt. 1:23). It is still incomprehensible that God literally came to earth and lived among us, but this identity personalizes the significance of our celebration of Christmas.

The birth of our Savior was a universal event on which all eternity hinges. It had global implications, but the angels declared, “there has been born for you a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). We celebrate the birth of Jesus and His coming into the world, but we can also celebrate His coming into our lives, dwelling in our hearts as “Emmanuel”–God with us.

Those who came to Jesus in His earthly ministry discovered He was God walking among them. The man born blind confessed only God could open the eyes of the blind as Jesus had done. His healing miracles, power over demons, raising the dead, forgiving sin all revealed that this was God who was with them. Jesus said to the disciples if you have seen me you have seen the Father.

Now it all fits together: God becoming man, dying on the cross, being raised from the dead, ascending to the Father, coming into the lives of believers as the Holy Spirit. It is because He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is with us to forgive sin, to comfort us in adversity, to guide us in doing His will and serving others, to empower us as His witnesses.

There are so many in our world who have been touched by tragedy, grieving the loss of loved ones, struggling with illness, estranged from family, anxious over financial struggles and insecurity and finding loneliness exacerbated during the holiday season. But we are not left to our own human fallibility and futile efforts to discover peace and joy. That baby born in Bethlehem long ago is with us. He is God. He is Emmanuel. That’s worth celebrating!

One Comment on “Emmanuel: God with Us!”

  1. Betty Jo Hudson

    We wish a very MERRY CHRISTMAS to Jerry & Bobbye and all the Rankin family. You are a treasure to us.
    Lots of love,
    Joe & Betty Jo Hudson

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