God With Us

Before the birth of Jesus, an angel came to Joseph and told him, “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” (Matt. 1:20, 21). Mathew then notes, “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’” (Matt. 1:22, 23). The prophecy was one written by Isaiah (Isa. 7:14) about 750 years before the Christ would come, foretelling the birth of the one who would be the Messiah.

      The prophetic name given to the Christ [Immanuel] and the name by which He was called [Jesus] both have significance to all believers today, for those names were not given incidentally, because it was a revered family name, or simply because someone liked the sound. The name Jesus means ‘God is salvation,’ and Immanuel, as Matthew noted, means ‘God with us.’ For today, let us focus on the name Immanuel, and just how fitting that name was and is to all believers even today. When we consider how God is with us, why He is with us, and even when and why He is not with us, we will learn some important points. Consider:

      God Is With Us in the Miracles Jesus Performed. When Jesus did the numerous and amazing miracles, some recognized the truth of what was happening, and at least acknowledged, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Nicodemus saw that God was with Jesus, but Peter would note the same thing the first time he preached the message of salvation, on Pentecost, telling the audience that Jesus was “a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst” (Acts 2:22). Jesus would make the point to the doubting Jews, “I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). Without a doubt, God was with Jesus as He did the numerous and powerful miracles, signs, and wonders

      But let us also note that God was with us — mankind — as Jesus worked those miracles. Jesus Himself was “God with us,” walking among the sick and afflicted, and He overruled every demon, healed every sickness, and eased every affliction. This same Jesus walked on water, turned water into wine, and calmed the storm! No amount of explanation can make those things anything less than a demonstration of the awesome power of God, and we are deceiving only ourselves if we deny the inescapable conclusion it should lead us to: Jesus was God [deity].

      Though we cannot be eyewitnesses to the great works of Jesus, we have the written record of at least some of those great works, and John noted they were written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30, 31). In other words, these words are God’s testimony about Jesus Christ; the testimony is a declaration of the truth of His claim to be the Christ and Son of God! So, if we refuse to believe God’s testimony regarding Jesus, we must also then acknowledge, “he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son” (1 John 5:10). Calling God a liar — God, who cannot lie (Titus 1:2) — is about the most foolish thing we could ever do.

      God Is With Us In the Forgiveness He Offered. On at least two occasions, Jesus offered and granted forgiveness of the sins of another. He granted forgiveness to the lame man who was brought to Him by his friends (Mark 2:1-5) and drew the criticism of scribes, and forgave the sins of the woman who washed and anointed the His feet (Luke 7:36-50), and caused those sitting there to wonder among themselves who Jesus was that he could forgive sins.

      The answer to that was found in the words of the critics of Jesus when He healed the man who had been lame: “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7); if only they had seriously considered what they had just said! They were right — which meant God was with them in Jesus, who had the power and authority to forgive sins.

      Today, forgiveness is still offered by Jesus Christ to all who will come to Him in obedient faith. God still demands that the lost “Repent, and…be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), and there is only forgiveness in Christ because of God’s great grace (Eph. 1:7). As Christians, we have the promise of forgiveness every time we confess and repent of those sins (1 John 1:9).

      God Is With Us in the Words of Jesus. No doubt, some of the critics of Jesus rejected Him because He was not the Messiah they envisioned, but the proofs of His claim should have silenced that idea. Nevertheless, many still rejected Him and any claim He made to have been sent by God; but Jesus persisted. More than once, Jesus would declare, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (John 7:16), or, “I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Jesus also equated His words with the will of the Father in heaven (Matt. 7:21-27), making it clear to all who would hear that what He spoke was the word of God.

      Again, we may not be able to hear Jesus speak as He did when He walked this earth, but we have the written record, and it is no less true today that the words He spoke then will judge us in the last day (John 12:47, 48). If our aim is pleasing God [and it should be], then we must seek to know His will. To know the will and words of Jesus Christ is to know the will and word of God.  Let us heed those words!

      God Is With Us In the Lord’s Church. This statement must be qualified, for God will not be with any church that is not Christ’s church; many make the claim to be a part, but making the claim does not make it true. Since Christ died for the church and paid for it with His blood (Acts 20:28), we honor Him only when we recognize this to be true, and truly recognize Him as its sole head and authority (Col. 1:18; Matt. 28:18).

      But it is in that church that God’s people can know and be assured God is with them. God recognizes the faithful disciples of Jesus Christ as those who are His children (Rom. 8:16), and as His children, we enjoy “every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3) and the promise of the Father, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). What a promise! With this, we can say, as did the psalmist, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Psa. 23:1).

      When God is Not With Us. God was not with the Israelites when they disobeyed (Josh. 7), and made it clear He would not be when they lived and indulged in sin (Isa. 59:1, 2); it is no different today for us. Since “there is no unrighteousness in Him” (Psa. 92:15), and since “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5), if we are to have fellowship with Him [and He with us], we must “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7), which means we must keep the words of Jesus (John 14:23).

            Is God truly with us? — Steven Harper