Immanuel – “God with Us”
In Matthew’s account of the announcement and birth of Jesus, he quotes Isaiah’s prophecy: “’Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us)” Matthew 1:23. The whole purpose of Jesus’ immaculate conception and birth – what we call in church-lingo, “incarnation” – was to be “with us.” Paul elaborates on this when he writes, “Being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” Philippians 2:8. The shadow of the cross extends from the glowing of the newborn Savior, lying in a manger.
Immanuel – “God with us.” How can this be? Luther puts it this way: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary is my Lord…that I may be his own…” Small Catechism, Article II of the Creed. The Second Person of the Godhead – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – who existed from before the beginning of time (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:1,14) takes upon himself human flesh and blood. The Bible tells us that “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to life-long slavery” Hebrews 2:14-15. As the Church has confess for two millennia, “I believe…in one Lord Jesus Christ…who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven and was incarnate…made man…crucified…suffered and was buried…rose again…ascended… and sits at the right hand of the Father” Nicene Creed.
While we focus on Christ as “Immanuel” primarily during the Advent/Christmas season, we celebrate “God with us” each and every time we come before the altar and receive the holy Sacrament. “What is the Sacrament of the Altar? It is the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ himself for us Christians to eat and to drink” Small Catechism, “The Nature of the Sacrament of the Altar. Jesus puts it this way: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” John 6:56. Thus, the Lord gives us himself in the Sacrament – “Take, eat; this is my body… Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” Matthew 26:26, 28. And, lest we forget, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them” Matthew 18:20. Every time we come together as God’s people – for worship or Bible class – Jesus is there… “Immanuel (which means, God with us).” Whenever we come to the altar and receive the body and blood of Jesus in, with, and under the bread and wine of the meal – Jesus is there…”Immanuel (which means, God with us).”
Jesus is with us – “Immanuel (which means, God with us).” The real question is, “Where are you?”