As we wrap up this month’s emphasis of who Jesus is, let’s remember…
Jesus is given many names throughout Scripture, and each gives us a glimpse into the deity and character of who Jesus is. Each name invites us to discover Jesus one piece of understanding at a time. The name Immanuel is of paramount importance. It connects many other pieces together, because Immanuel means, “God with us.” Immanuel captures the essence of the deity of God becoming a person who walked alongside men on earth.
The virgin will be pregnant. She will have a son, and they will name him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” (Matthew 1:23)
Jesus’s birth brought a physical closeness to us and God. God could no longer be seen as a God who was “somewhere out there,” ready to bless and guide us from a distance. Jesus brought with him the availability of a personal relationship. God’s help, protection, provision and guidance became touchable. Those who stood in the presence of Jesus stood in the presence of God. Those who have a personal relationship with Jesus have a personal relationship with God. There is no far-off, long-distance relationship with an unseen, unfamiliar, unrevealed God. Jesus came to earth as the incarnate God, and he provides a way to authentic, significant, purposeful, eternal faith.
In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him. The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father—and he was full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3, 14)
Why do we need Immanuel, “God with Us”? Because our sin—yes, that three-letter word that we don’t want to acknowledge we have in our lives—has separated us from God. Without Immanuel, we’re incomplete at best. No matter what we imagine in our arrogance, we are creatures. We did not imagine or will ourselves into existence. We can come up with all kinds of flattering explanations as to how and why we’re here, but we often do so without evidence of truth.
We are beautiful, complicated, and intricate creations fashioned in the image of God, and we are created for the purpose of knowing and loving him. He are intended to have the most intimate relationship imaginable with him, depending on him for all things, daily walking in his light, love, joy, and power.
With man’s rebellion, or sin, we set aside our intimate relationship with God. We need God, because it is at the core of our nature to know him, and without him, we are incomplete, empty, unfulfilled, restless, because we are living life contrary to the purpose for which we are made.
We need “God with us” because without him we are incomplete. Only Jesus can undo what we have done. Only the one who created us in the first place can restore us again. Only he can give our lives the meaning and completeness we are supposed to have. In this one name—Immanuel—everything we need, the entire plan of God’s salvation is fulfilled. We are blessed that Jesus is Immanuel.
Jesus said, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust in me. There are many rooms in my Father’s house; I would not tell you this if it were not true. I am going there to prepare a place for you. After I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”
Thomas said to Jesus, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. So how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. The only way to the Father is through me.If you really knew me, you would know my Father, too. But now you do know him, and you have seen him.”
Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”
Jesus answered, “I have been with you a long time now. Do you still not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. So why do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you don’t come from me, but the Father lives in me and does his own work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or believe because of the miracles I have done. I tell you the truth, whoever believes in me will do the same things that I do. Those who believe will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And if you ask for anything in my name, I will do it for you so that the Father’s glory will be shown through the Son.” (Luke 14:1-13)
Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God, came to this world a stranger. (The apostle John said, “He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”)
Jesus, Himself, said, “I was a stranger and you invited me in.” In effect, He stated that not only had He come as a stranger but He had come for the stranger.
Jesus was estranged not because He wasn’t what He should have been but rather because the world wasn’t what it should be. Even through the world had been created through Him, it didn’t recognize Him. The world suffered from the Fall as well as mankind. Even now it groans, the apostle Paul says.
Yet certainly there were times when creation recognized the authority of Jesus. At least once He spoke to the winds. “Be quiet!” He said, in a way you or I might speak to our dog, and they obeyed. To the waves He said, “Calm down!” and they too obeyed. The disciples were terrified. “Who is this?” They stammered in fear. “Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”
I sometimes ask myself if I might have felt safer that day in the water, rather than in the boat with someone who possessed such awesome power. When Jesus desired, He could life the veil of His incarnation and speak in such a way that creation could recognize Him for who He was. Most often, however, He chose not to.
Though ultimately Jesus is not a stranger, He still did come for the stranger. If you invite the stranger in, Jesus says, it’s as if you had invited Him. He has come so no one has to be a stranger ever again, including you and me (at least not strangers to each other and to Him).
After you’ve been a Christian for long enough, you discover a paradox: Once you become intimate with God you become even more a stranger to the world, for people in the world would have us groan all the more for knowing Him. If the creation did not recognize Jesus, then how much less can we expect it to recognize those who belong to Him, unless He gives us the grace, from time to time, to life the veil of His incarnation in us and show the world His wonderful work of re-creation.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:8-12, NIV)
Jesus is a gift beyond words. He is indescribable. We can attach adjectives and descriptors. We can point to the names given to him in Scripture and list what characterizes him best, but we cannot fully capture essence of who he is, because he is incomparable.
This indescribable gift cannot be obtained by human performance or effort. It cannot be secured by monetary payments. A gift is not a gift until it is accepted, yet God’s indescribable gift of Jesus is available to everyone who chooses to receive him. With the indescribable gift of Jesus comes a package of amazing grace, genuine forgiveness, transforming power, and eternal life.
No gift can be compared with God’s gift of Jesus. No poet can fully express him. No theologian can fully explain him. No artist or writer can fully capture him. No actor can completely portray him. The indescribable gift of Jesus is too marvelous to be adequately described and too priceless to be assessed. Yet the indescribably gift of Jesus can always be received. He is accessible. He is accepting. He is prepared to receive you.
It is through the gift of Jesus that we receive every blessing.
Humility says: “Thanks for your advice and help.”
Pride says: “I need, I want, I deserve.”
Humility says: “He needs, they want, you deserve.”
Pride criticizes others to tear them down.
Humility praises others in order to build them up.
Pride exalts himself but God resists him.
Humility humbles himself before God and God lifts him up.
Pride says: “I can do all things.”
Humility says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Pride says: “I want to be served.”
Humility said: “I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.”
Pride says: “Look what I did.”
Humility says: “See what God has done in me!”
Pride stood in the streets and shouted: “Crucify him! He became more popular than we are.”
Humility, hanging on the cross, looked upward and prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Pride seeks the glory but does not find it.
Humility receives glory and honor from others without seeking it.