God With Us
Isaiah 9:2 reads, "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light; they that dwell in the land of shadow and death, upon them hath the light shined."
The Christmas celebration declares that Jesus Christ is the light; He is the One called Wonderful Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. From the beginning God's great desire has been to be physically and personally with humanity, and the incarnation of Jesus both revealed and manifested that desire. But there is so much more to tell about God's desire to be with humanity.
To begin with, there is the reason God chose to be with us through His son Jesus. Matthew writes in chapter 1 verse 23, "...and they shall call his name Emanuel which being translated is God with us." Immanuel literally means, the strong God with us." We needed a strong God with us as weak humans. Humanity was lost in sin and fear at Christ's coming.
Yet, Jesus came to reveal the true essence of God's person to humanity. John 1:14 says, "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth." NIV
Jesus came to take part in our afflictions that we might partake of the glorious future that He has prepared for those who follow Him. Jesus came to save humanity from its sin by giving Himself as a sacrifice in our place. He was punished for us so that we could go free. This is why He came to be with us.
But this is not a story that ends in the past or that is limited to the death, burial, resurrection and the ascension of Jesus Christ 2000 years ago. His past dwelling among us is continued even today. Of course we can say that God is omnipresent or everywhere, but there is a greater truth for us than that. God is with us even now through the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is God also and He is with us now! Let me take you back to the place and time where Jesus was telling His disciples that He would be leaving them. It is found in John chapter 14. Jesus knew that after the crucifixion and the resurrection He would be returning to heaven. After having the comforting presence of Christ Himself, the disciples would have been utterly devastated if they had been left without God's presence. Therefore, Christ sent them another Comforter so that they that had felt the presence and comfort of God would never have to be without it. A Comforter that would never go away as Jesus had to. Christ said in v. 18, "I will not leave you comfortless... I will come to you."
The Holy Spirit has been referred to as the One "called along side" to be our Helper, Teacher and Guide. Paul Hovey said, "The word 'Comforter' as applied to the Holy Spirit needs to be translated by some vigorous term. Literally, it means "with strength." Jesus promised His followers "The Strengthener" would be with them forever. This promise is no lullaby for the faint-hearted. It is a blood transfusion for courageous living."
But let us not stop there. God is also with us in the future. In eternity He will dwell with us in a similar manner as He did with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. In the Old Testament He dwelt with the Israelites the only way He could. In Leviticus 26:11a, 12 God said, "And I will set my tabernacle among you... And I will walk among you and will be your God, and ye shall be my people."
This is a promise found all through the scripture - Old and New Testaments. He will dwell with us - or tabernacle with us. John said in Revelation 21:3, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God."
He will make His place of habitation with us like the Tabernacle of old. The New Jerusalem will be where we will tabernacle together. And He will dwell with us as our God - to fellowship with us. "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." NIV
Jesus made it possible for us to know God. He made it possible for the Spirit to be in us. He made it possible for us to be with the Father throughout eternity. This is what we celebrate at Christmas! Jesus, Emmanuel, God is with us!