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Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

God with Us

This Christmas season, I have been dwelling on the word "Immanuel." Immanuel is one of the names for Christ, meaning "God with us." "The name Immanuel betokened the fact that God would establish His guiding and protecting presence with His people in this deliverance" (GotQuestions).

We first see the term "Immanuel" in the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (ESV): "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." About 700 years later, we see the term again in Matthew 1:23 when the angel tells Joseph that his fiancée Mary (a virgin) was with a child conceived by the Holy Spirit, a child that would grow up to save people from their sins (Matthew 1:20-123). In God's perfect, sovereign timing, the prophecy has been fulfilled!

We must not skip over the significance of Jesus being born of a virgin, conceived by the Holy Spirit. This evidences that Jesus was not born with a sin nature but as God incarnate; and since he was born of a woman, He was able to pay for sins of mankind and impute his righteousness through substitutionary atonement. For more on this, I recommend this sermon by Voddie Baucham.

"God with us" refers to incarnation. John 1:14 (ESV) tells us what "incarnation" is: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." Christ, the uncreated, eternal God, took on humanity. The John MacArthur Study Bible notes: "This reality is surely the most profound ever because it indicates that the Infinite became finite; the Eternal was conformed to time; the Invisible became visible; the supernatural One reduced Himself to the natural."

Through the Son, God has been revealed to us. John 1:18 (ESV): "No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." Jesus was not just half-God, half-human, but was fully God and fully human. All that Jesus is and does exemplifies and demonstrates who God is. Jesus made God fully revealed, possessing divine nature and attributes (Colossians 2:9). Thus, the incarnation is God in the flesh dwelling among us, meaning as the John MacArthur Study Bible puts it, Christ was an "undiminished deity in human form as a man" (1 Timothy 3:16).

Stop and think about the significance of that. The omnipotent, sovereign, almighty God who created everything in this universe came to this earth to dwell among us. The word "dwelt" means "to pitch a tabernacle" or "live in a tent." In the Old Testament, God's presence dwelled among His people particularly in the tabernacle before the temple was built (Exodus 25:8). John 1:14 uses this context to point out that in the New Testament, God chose to dwell in a more personal, greater manner through taking on the form of man.

Why would God come in the flesh? Although Jesus is God, He experienced what it was like to human. "Jesus left the glories of heaven and took on the form of a servant so that He could identify with us in our day-to-day human struggles (Philippians 2:6-11, Hebrews 4:15-16)" (GotQuestions). More importantly, in Matthew 9:13, Jesus tells us why He came: "I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." This is the core of the incarnation: Christ came to call sinners to repentance and to follow Him, forsaking all sin. In The Gospel According to Jesus, John MacArthur writes: "Why did Jesus come into the world? To call sinners--those who know they have a terminal disease, those who are hopeless and desperate, those who are hurting, those who are hungry and thirsty, those who are hungry and thirsty, those who are weak and weary, those who are broken, those who are shattered, those who are desperate--sinners who know they are unworthy yet long to be forgiven."

Further, 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV) says: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." This verse is not talking about worldly wealth but is referring to richness in righteousness. The John MacArthur Study Bible explains: "As the second person of the Trinity, Christ is as rich as God is rich. He owns everything, and possesses all power, authority, sovereignty, glory, honor, and majesty." When Christ came incarnate, He set aside the independent use of His divinity. Those in poverty are those who recognize that they are spiritually bankrupt, sinners who recognize they could never pay for the ransom of their sin against God. It is only through Christ paying for our sin that we are justified, declared not guilty, and are clothed in His righteousness. Clothed in His righteousness, we become joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Our perfect, blameless Savior was treated as we should have been, so that we can be treated as if we have His righteousness, justified before God.

Immanuel is our Savior. He is God, which means He is without sin, and thus able to pay for our sin debt. If Jesus had His own sin to pay for, then He wouldn't have been able to pay for those who are in Him. Since, He was able to keep the Law, He was righteous and able to impute that righteousness to those whose sins He atoned for (that Vodie Baucham sermon cited earlier explains this more in-depth). Our Lord and Savior came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger to this world filled with sin. The tiny baby came to die. He would eventually be crucified on the cross, taking on the full wrath of God to pay the ransom for the sinners who rebelled against Him. Three days later, He would resurrect, showing that He is who He said He is. That is what is most significant about Immanuel: a promise fulfilled.

The cross and the manger are connected, for we cannot have Easter without Christmas. Salvation is only through Christ. God being with us, His full presence on this Earth, was centered on salvation for sinners. Jesus, the Son of God, was acting in obedience to His Father. He willingly and obediently was crucified, taking our place facing the full wrath of God. He who knew no sin was made to know sin for our sake. He took your place, paying for your sins. In turn, for saving faith, we are adopted into God's Kingdom. This is the true gift we are given: grace. Whether it is Christmas, Easter, or any day in between, let us remember the message and implications of the Gospel.

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG & TikTok: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for truth. In any free time, she loves to read, study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, Philippians, Ephesians, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is either John, David, or Paul.

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