God “With Us”

Written by Susan Dunk

I am writing Advent lessons for the kids classes at KW Redeemer and I was reminded of a brilliant blog I read at this time last year by Dr. Jono Linebaugh. “What’s in Two Names”.

The Redeemer KiDS will hear from the Jesus Story Book Bible’s “He’s Here!” which is the Biblical narrative of Christ’s arrival…

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ, was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man and not wanting to make her a public example was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things behold an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream saying, “Joseph, son of David do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call HIs name JESUS, for He will save HIs people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be  with  child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated God with us.” Matthew 1:18

The angel gives Joseph two names for his infant Son. Two names that describe one God, two names that have eternal significance.

Since the beginning of creation God has wanted to dwell with mankind, which is why He created us. Genesis 1:26 reads, “Let us make man in our image according to our likeness.”  It was out of the love that God had within Himself (as a Trinity) that He created Man. Immanuel: God with us.

After the fall, God could no longer dwell with man because of Sin, God is Holy and His holiness consumes sin. To protect mankind, God could no longer dwell with us, and so He set His redemptive plan into motion so that once again, He could dwell with us: Immanuel: God with us.

The whole of the Old Testament is God wanting to dwell with His creation – or to use OT language, “ tabernacle” among them. He wants to be with mankind, however the sin of mankind is a major deal breaker for God in having this relationship. He could not dwell with sinful people without destroying sinful people; thus all of the rituals and laws and priestly duties of the OT were temporary provisions to atone for sinful people. (Ridiculously reductionistic, but I make my point).

The New Testament opens with the Advent and the Good News for all people, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a saviour who is Christ the Lord” [1]

God has done the only thing possible in order to be Immanuel God with us. He came Himself  and made Himself human to dwell among us.

“And the word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory  as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” [2]

His Advent is His declaration that He is God in human flesh. Human, baby flesh. He is the God-man. It is His flesh that permitted Him to dwell among us as Immanuel: God with us. He could make His home and dwell in the womb of His virgin mother Mary because He was the God-man. He could dwell among His people because He was the God-man and He could touch sinners and instead of His holiness consuming them, His holiness healed them.

The sin that had long separated God from dwelling with man was consumed by the God-man named Jesus, for “He shall save His people from their sins”.

What have we been saved from? The antithesis of our creation: eternal separation.

When the God-man named Jesus died on the cross, He saved us from our sin. What was the penalty of our sin that we were saved from? The antithesis of our creation: eternal separation from God dwelling with us as our Immanuel. He did this by becoming a human and obeying perfectly in our place so that He could be the perfect payment for our sin so that we could be given His holiness as if it was our own. He ushered in His Spirit to dwell in us by faith –  Immanuel: God with us.

What the God-man Jesus did on the cross was take our sin away and give us His holiness completing the Divine plan so that God would once again – dwell with us. At the cross, Jesus cried, “My God, My God – why have you forsaken Me? [3]” 

Jesus endured separation from His Father to give us life with God.

Immanuel: God with us” is only possible because Jesus was God – the Saviour who came to save us from our sins.

[1] Luke 2:11
[2] John 1:14
[3] Matthew 27:46

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