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Immanuel (God with us)

Date: 
Thursday, 27 December 2018

The mystery of the incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God still continues to bring wonder and awe to those presented with the facts of the gospel message – for God so loved the world that He gave His only Son to dwell among mankind in order to save us from our sins by dying on the cross (Jn. 3:16). Yet what does it really mean for God to be in our midst? Well, for one, it would not be like the satirical, almost blasphemous, 1995 song by Joan Osborne titled “What if God was one of us?” It would not even be like the storyline of the comedy movie “Bruce Almighty” where God bestows an unsuspecting human with His powers for a day, leading only to sheer disaster and calamity when things go awry.

The Bible tells us that “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel - which means, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matt. 1:23) which the apostle Matthew recorded in relation to angel Gabriel’s pronouncement to the virgin Mary of Jesus’ impending miraculous birth. This was just one of over 300 messianic prophecies to be fulfilled by Jesus found in the Old Testament (cf. Isa. 7:14), written hundreds of years before His birth. Mathematicians calculate that the probability of one person fulfilling just 8 of these prophecies would be 117, and it would be 1157 for 1 person fulfilling 48 such prophecies, let alone one person fulfilling 300+ prophecies! Only Jesus, the true son of God, could accomplish this, and it is the magnificent details of these prophecies that mark the Bible as the reliable and inspired Word of God.

For Jesus to be incarnate means that He had to leave His glory in heaven and take on the form of a human, obeying His Father's will to die on the cross. This is our God, the Servant-King, and because of His ultimate sacrifice, God exalted Him to that highest place, that every knee shall bow to and every tongue confess the lordship of Jesus in our lives and in the world (Phil. 2:5-11). That the highest power and authority, the Creator of heaven and earth, would stoop to our lowly human level, for the sake of His Father, but also for the sake of us humankind – what amazing love!

Another apostle John puts it this way, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life ... We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.” (1 Jn. 1:1-4) Jesus chose to dwell among man, to reconcile us to a relationship with God, that we might have fellowship (or union) with God, restoring the original order set out when God created Adam and Eve, and one day culminating in the second coming of our Lord and Saviour.

May we experience God's abiding presence, complete joy and deepest love this year-end and in the year to come.