Jesus is many things to us and can be referred to by many “names”--Jehovah Rapha, The God Who Heals; Jehovah Shalom, The God of Peace; Adonai, My Lord; El Shaddai, God Almighty … But during the Christmas season, there is a name that is often focused on.
"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).
We sing this name in carols such as “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and use it in our Christmas decor, but how often do we stop to meditate on its true meaning?
God with us…
Just let those words sink in for a moment.
When the God of Creation clothed Himself in flesh and descended to this earth, He didn’t just come to observe. He was not a spectator. He wanted to live and eat and sleep and dwell among His creation. To live with us, as one of us, so that He could relate to our struggles and pains [Hebrews 4:15]. For thousands of years He had remained at a distance, untouchable to the common man. But now He wanted to get up close and personal with His children and remove the barriers that keep us apart.
He took on the nitty, gritty existence of a human for the sake of being close to us.
What amazing love is that? To forsake the glory of Heaven for the shadows of this fallen world because of His desire to be with us!
And He didn’t stop there, of course, because being on earth for a season wasn’t the end goal. He didn’t just come so He could be with us for thirty-three years; He came so that He could be in us forever.
Two thousand years ago, He walked on the earth and placed Himself in the lives of people like Mary Magdalene, Peter, and Matthew. He was there when they needed Him the most. In our present day, He may not be here in the flesh anymore, but we still have Emmanuel in the form of His Spirit.
So what does the name Emmanuel mean to you? To me it means that God is with me even when I feel forgotten and alone. It means God is with me when my heart is broken. It means God is with me when finances are strained and I can’t see how we will make ends meet. It means God is with me in the middle of a pandemic, in the midst of family conflict, in economic strife, political upheaval--the list goes on!
We can truly celebrate this season with joy and peace in our hearts because the message of Christmas still rings true today: Our Savior has come and He is here to dwell with us! And one day, we will at last dwell with Him in Heaven for eternity.