The Advent season is a time of anticipation, waiting, and preparation. During the month of December, Time With God will break from its regular format to explore selected passages and characters connected with the coming of Jesus, Emmanuel, God with Us.
Before you study the passages of Scripture today, take some time to reflect on the following questions.
How have you experienced God’s presence in your life?
Can you think of a time when you sensed the nearness of God in a significant way? What was that like?
What difference does it make that God is with you?
READ THE WORD: ISAIAH 7:14 (ESV)
Old Testament Reference:
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
New Testament Fulfillment:
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20 But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
RESPOND TO GOD
God is with us. That is the consoling and confounding hope of Christmas. Jesus came to be with us, with the promise that he will be with us now and forevermore. It is part of the story we tell with the intention of speaking a great comfort. And, it is true.
So why, then, do so few of us feel very comfortable? There is joy and hope and life all around us, yet many in the world know equal or even greater amounts of pain, poverty, loneliness, fear, war, slavery, and terror. Even as we settle into the last days of Advent, the news is filled with stories of shootings, violence, murder, and hunger. Yet Jesus says, “I am with you.”
Jesus was born into a world that is broken and dark, beautiful and bright, full of both wonder and unimaginable sorrow. Jesus entered into all of this. He is Immanuel, God with us, in the glory and the gore. He knows what it is like to be us—to live in a world where the wicked slaughter the innocent (Matthew 2:16).
He knows what it is like to be rejected, spit at, lied to, and beaten. He is with us.
He knows the sting of being hated for his race and ethnic heritage. He is with us.
He knows what it is like to be envied, competed with, and sucked up to. He is with us.
He knows hunger, laughter, tears, and death. He is with us in it all.
You are not alone. He is Immanuel. And, that’s not all. Jesus entered in and invites us to do the same. For those who follow him, knowing Jesus as Immanuel is both a comfort and a command. Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (John 17:18, 20:21). If we follow Jesus, we are filled with and empowered by God’s Spirit to be the tangible hands and feet of God’s love. He sends us to those in the world who desperately need to know the nearness of hope and the hands of help. By following Jesus, by being like him, we become the only “Immanuel” some may ever experience. And through knowing us, they may come to know Jesus, the God who entered in, our Immanuel.
Jesus knows what it’s like to be us. I find that amazing. And I think it’s all the more amazing that he sends us to be the comfort of God in a broken world. There is hope and beauty here on earth, Christ in me, and Christ in you. God is with us.
- Praise Jesus for being your Immanuel—the God who is with you.
- Ask him for opportunities to tangibly show his love to others this week.