This Christmas, we are not alone. Immanuel means that God is with us, in our midst.
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. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). – Matthew 1:20-23, ESV
In Genesis, we read that God would walk in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. This intimacy was lost when they were exiled because of their sin. In exchange for a fleeting desire, they received broken relationships with each other and with God; until Bethlehem, when the curtain lifted, and the second half of the story began, and intimacy was restored.
Jesus Christ dwelt among us. He fulfilled God’s promise to Hosea to restore us to Himself as a bride. He restored the brokenness of our hearts and our spirits. We are now free to partake in sweet union with Him. He came to us, lived in our midst, and spoke to our hearts.
This changes everything. We do not serve a distant God but one who is close to us and who identifies with our struggles and pains. He is intimately acquainted with every part of our humanity. He knows the tears we cry and the hairs on our head. He knows what it means to cry and to hurt. He knows the ache of sore legs at the end of a long day. He experiences calloused hands without ever letting His heart become calloused to those around Him.
Immanuel knows and loves us. He is near to our hearts and cares about our restored relationships.
He invited us to His table to join Him in the feast of True life. While He walked on this earth, He reached out to the marginalized, neglected, and those thought to be too far gone for restoration. Immanuel does not just bring us into the fold to Lord over us (although He is our Lord), He brings us in to restore deep, intimate friendship.
Just as God walked with Adam and Eve before the Fall of Mankind, so Christ invites us into an intimate friendship. He brings us to Himself as dear friends. He cares so much that He dwelt among us to reveal His beauty and call us back into the friendship we’d lost.
We aren’t just servants, doing His bidding, we are friends partnering with Him for the glory of God. He’s revealed the plan to us and asked us to join Him, today and forever.
Because we are no longer servants, our hearts should be eager to join Christ in restoring intimate fellowship between God and Mankind. At Christmas, we realize anew our call to be His hands and feet on Earth.
As God dwells within us through the Holy Spirit, may we bring His presence to those who do not yet know Him. Let us reach out to the marginalized and the needy, both physically and spiritually, in the name of Christ. May this be the Christmas where the incarnate God is seen again through His presence in the lives of His disciples.