God living with his people has always been the driving purpose behind God’s great plan of redemption. And not just any people, but specific people, people whose names he knows and has written down. Jesus taking up humanity is living evidence of God's whole purpose in his plan of salvation, that God himself desires to be with his people.
“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” 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)
After a long time of waiting and silence from God, the promised one had finally arrived. No wonder his birth was announced by singing angels and a special star. Jesus’ coming was and continues to bring us joyful celebration because of what his coming brings about for us! 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.
Sin Separated Us from God
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, that thing that promises us the darkness is better than the light. But God kept his promise that he would not abandon his people to our sin and darkness. Instead, he would save his people, even though it would cost him greatly. Even more, God would provide a way for his people to dwell with him in peace and security and joy.
Jesus Reverses the Separation
God is not a God far away or distant but a God close at hand. 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).
The coming of Jesus was the extraordinary fulfillment of that promise. His coming meant the beginning of the end of evil in this world. The destruction and alienation from God that sin brought upon the world would be remedied in Jesus. All who are lost are found when they are united to God through Christ. Jesus is the great shepherd who diligently searches the wilderness for the members of his flock and then is filled with great joy at finding them (Lk. 15:1-7). The curse of sin was reversed by his death and resurrection on the cross. Separation from God has been turned into union with God himself through Christ and entrance into God’s own family.
Jesus Remains One of Us
Jesus truly is God with us, because he knows every aspect of being human and has experienced every emotion and every temptation. Jesus was born a human not only to save us from our sin but to be a merciful and understanding mediator. In fact, even after his ascension he remains human. The author of Hebrews writes,
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)
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, made like him so that we could be with 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 flourishing with him.