Everyone knows that being with the people you love during the holidays is very important. It is good news that someone you love is going to be home for Christmas. The birth of Jesus is also good news because it is God coming to be with those he loves, his people.
After a long time of silence from God, the promised one finally arrives with the birth of a baby in a manger (Lk 2:1-21). The angel Gabriel tells Joseph to name the child in Mary’s womb Jesus because he will save people from their sins. However, as Matthew points out to us, the coming of Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promise to be with his people, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means, God with us)" (Matt. 1:20–23).
God Pursues the World
God being with his people has always been the driving purpose behind God’s great plan of redemption. Sin and death alienated us from God, corrupting our natures and putting barriers between us and God. But God promised us that he would not abandon us to our sin. Instead, he would save us from our sin. Even more, God would provide a way for his people to dwell with him in everlasting peace and joy.
But to be with God, we must be holy like God. This could only be accomplished through God forgiving our sin and giving us alien righteousness, one not tainted by any sin. God fulfilled his promise to be with us by sending his own Son to be our savior.
God With Us
The prophecy that foretold the coming of Christ calls him Immanuel, which means God with us. Throughout Scripture, God’s promise of salvation is accompanied by his promise to be with those he saves—not just theoretically with them or with them in spirit, but with them in person, dwelling with them and walking among them (Ezek. 14:11, 37:27; Zech. 8:8; 2 Cor. 6:16; Rev. 21:3). God is not a God far away or distant but a God close at hand. He is near and desires to be with his people. The coming of Jesus was the extraordinary fulfillment of that promise. Christ came and died on the cross so that God and man could dwell together in peace and love.
Jesus' coming meant the beginning of the end of evil in this world. The destruction and alienation from God that sin brought would be reversed in Jesus. All who are lost can be found if they are united to God through Christ. He is the great shepherd who goes into the wilderness in pursuit of his lost sheep and brings them back rejoicing over them.
Separation from God has been turned into union with God himself through Christ and entrance into God’s own family. God loves us and desires to be with us so much that he came down and became one of us.
Jesus Remains One of Us
The author of Hebrews writes that Jesus had to become a human being in order to be our salvation but also that he might be our perfect mediator.
Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. . . . For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 2:17; 4:15–16)
Jesus truly is God with us, because he knows every aspect of being human and has experienced every emotion and every temptation. He became one of us so that he could provide the way for us to draw near to God with full confidence and hope in God’s mercy and grace. He came to be one of us so that we might be caught up in him and be made like him. He alone is our hope, the one who proved without a doubt that God loves us, saves us, and one day will bring us to be with him—the only place where everlasting peace, joy, and love can be found.
Episode 133 | Dr. Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez answer questions on sharing the gospel, spiritual sacrifices, and the image of God.