We were discussing the meaning of Immanuel with a resident of Campbell Place last Monday. She was struggling to grasp the concept of “God with us” but during our debate a very simple, but highly significant, addition emerged which assisted her understanding – i.e. Immanuel means “God is with us”. I believe that this simple addition is both profound and powerful (and, of course, Biblical!). It makes the name Immanuel personal and certain – Jesus is God with me for all time and there can be no doubts about this. “God is” reminds me also of the stunning Name by which God revealed Himself to Moses – “I am”.
The present tense of “God is” and “I am” speaks of His constancy, His unchanging nature, His permanence, His total dependability. Christmas declares that God is with us moment by moment, in sickness and in health, in danger and in despair. Above all, it announces that God is with us in our desperate need for a Saviour. Immanuel walks with us to Calvary but then, in extraordinary love, He takes our place on the cross – and suffers excruciating separation from God so that we might truly experience the constant presence of God for all eternity. God is truly with us in Jesus Christ.
Who is He, in yonder stall,
At whose feet the shepherds fall?
‘Tis the Lord! Oh, wondrous story!
‘Tis the Lord! The King of glory!
At His feet we humbly fall;
Crown Him, crown Him Lord of all.
Peace and Grace and Happy Christmas