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God Is With Us

Christmas is over and the New Year has dawned. We took down the tree, put the ornaments away, stored the Mikasa Christmas dinnerware and mugs for another year. But I refuse to step on the bathroom scale after all that turkey and dessert!

My wife, Patty, absolutely loves having family, friends, and fellow believers around her, especially during the holiday season. The art of hospitality seems to be waning in our culture, so I’m glad I married a woman who absolutely loves to cook and entertain. We enjoy a full house at Christmas with oodles of different food, delicious drinks, decadent desserts, and Michael Bublé belting out merry tunes on an endless YouTube playlist, and “White Christmas” on the TV with no sound. The kids in our family love to dramatize “the Christmas story” from Luke 2, complete with bathrobes, broom sticks for shepherd staffs, and a tin-foil star that guides the shepherds to Bethlehem. Grandpa serves as Narrator. Yep. We’re all in, and we love it!

When it’s all over, and the house is quiet, it’s usually too quiet. Right? You know how it is. You watch the last set of taillights head down the street, turn the corner, and disappear into the night. You slowly walk back in the house and start the clean-up. But once the reparations have been made, and you’ve demolished the last three Lindt chocolates, the house is still again. It’s now too quiet and it does not take long for our hearts to ache again for the joyful noise, the baby cooing, and the jingle bells rocking.

Why is that?

The obvious answer will be that we love our families deeply, even with their mild dysfunctions and crazy uncles, and when we are not together after being together for a day or two or five, we miss them. Of course.

The not-so-obvious answer is that God made us for this. He made us to be social creatures. He made us in his image (Gen. 1:27), and he is a Trinity, with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit eternally living in community with each other. To be made in the image of God, therefore, is to long for significant socialization, or meaningful fellowship, as we prefer to call it in the church. We have a deep need to be in relationship with other human beings!

We crave the comfort and camaraderie that come with rubbing shoulders, engaging in conversation, and finding ridiculous things to laugh about. Whether it’s my wife, grandchildren, a close friend, a colleague, or even a neighbor, having flesh-and-blood folks around gives me a particular kind of joy as well as a reminder of the promise that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Heb. 13:5).

When the Father sent his Son from heaven to earth, he gave him the title “Immanuel,” which means “God with us” (Is. 7:14; Matt. 1:23).

Of all that could be said about Jesus, the one thing Matthew shines the light on is this name or title of Jesus. “God with us.” It means that God is near. He is not merely the God who created the heavens and the earth. Jesus is more than the “image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). He is not just the Son of God come to earth. He is not only my Rock and my Redeemer, but God with us. He is the only one who can fill the empty spot that you feel in your heart when everyone else has gone home.

All the other names we have to describe Jesus are good and true and need to become ingrained in our hearts so that we have the fullest picture possible of the person and work of Jesus. Alpha and Omega, Branch of Jesse, Chief Cornerstone, Desire of Ages, Eternal One, Friend of Sinners, Great I Am, and every other name or title from A-Z. But every year, when Christmas comes around, the name of Jesus that we love the most is “Immanuel,” which means “God with us.”

Our Father, in his eternal love and mercy and grace, did not only send us a powerful Prophet, Priest, and King. He didn’t only deliver a Savior to become a propitiation for us (Rom. 3:25) or make peace with God for us (Rom. 5). Our heavenly Father sent us a person who is able to sympathize with our weakness (Heb. 4:15); one who would be with us always, even to the end of the age (Matt. 28:20).

January is the month for new beginnings. When you realize the house is much quieter than you’d like it to be, remember, you have God with you, Immanuel.


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