This is the fourteenth day of Advent. Our word for today is Emmanuel
Matt 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.
22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
23 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 is quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah from Chapter 7 verse 14, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The interpretation of the word Emmanuel (New Testament spelling) is given in the text, It means "God with us." There are many churches with the name "Emmanuel." A pastor I knew made a "tongue in cheek" comment that when a church split takes place the group that leaves often starts a new church and calls it "Emmanuel." The implication is that God is really with us and not with the church they left. That is not the way the word is used here.
What it means is this:
First it says that Christ the Savior, the one born in a stable, is fully God.
The theologians say Christ is God incarnate. That means He was not created, or simply came into existence at the time of His birth. He was God come down to man. John's Gospel makes this point clear.
John 1: In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him.
1) Christ is eternal just as God the Father is (He had no beginning.)
2) Christ is equal to the Father in every way (His deity or God-ness is the same as the Fathers
3) Christ has a distinct personality from the Father even though He is equal to the Father. He is neither a separate god nor is He simply a different expression of God. There is but one God, yet He exists in three distinct personalities; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
4) Christ was co-creator with the Father and the Holy Spirit
Second of All Emmanuel means that Christ is human.
It is as wrong to deny His human-ness as it is to deny His God-ness. Paul reminds us in Philippians:
Philippians 2:6 Christ himself was like God in everything.
But he did not think that being equal with God was something to be used for his own benefit.
7 But he gave up his place with God and made himself nothing.
He was born as a man
and became like a servant.
8 And when he was living as a man,
he humbled himself and was fully obedient to God,
even when that caused his death—death on a cross. (NCV)
Note: Verse seven says He was born as a man. He was as fully human as if He had not been God, and He was as fully God as if He had not been man. He was the God man.
Now, do I understand how this can be? No, a thousand times No! Does the Scripture teach this? Yes, a thousand times Yes! And if we stop here we have merely participated in a theological formulation.
So finally what it means for Christ to be Emmanuel is that He is with us in our human condition.
He can rescue us, guide us, save us, help us, and preserve us. Here is the crux of today's devotion. The Scripture states it.
1 Tim 2:4 who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth. 5 There is one God and one mediator so that human beings can reach God. That way is through Christ Jesus, who is himself human. 6 He gave himself as a payment to free all people. He is proof that came at the right time. (NCV)
Heb 4:14 Since we have a great high priest, Jesus the Son of God, who has gone into heaven, let us hold on to the faith we have. 15 For our high priest is able to understand our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he did not sin. 16 Let us, then, feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it. (NCV)
Friend, there is nothing we go through that Christ cannot feel. There no place we find ourselves, be it ever so dark, that the presence of Christ is not there. There is no sorrow so great that Christ cannot help us through it. There is no pain we can be afflicted with but that Christ has already experienced. He is our Emmanuel, He is with us.
He is all we need for time and eternity. Do you know Him?
EMMANUEL, GOD WITH US!