Immanuel “God with us”. Prophesized by Isaiah in his 7th chapter, “God with us” brought an influx of raised eyebrows to the children of Israel.
“God with us”? How could that be? We have been kept separate from His presence since the Exodus days when to view His face would mean death.
But that is exactly what Isaiah said, “God with us”.
In Matthew 1, Isaiah’s prophesy is once again repeated as his embryonic sermon is brought full term. The Messiah is to be born. The Christ will live among us. Jesus is moving into the neighborhood.
John tells us that “The Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-kind glory, like Father, like Son.”
But we are a forgetful people. We allow ourselves to be so comfortable by the presence of Christ that we can take it for granted because it is always there, just like that helpful neighbor you call on for a cup of sugar or a screwdriver or a cup of tea.
Our family had what seemed to be a minor hiccup to those looking in from the outside, but to those dealing with it day to day it was allowed to become a gasping for breath.
Circumstances were magnified and fears were stretched, even though no one had mentioned what those fears could be. We all played the “what if” game which did nothing but define those imagined fears more distinctly.
What had we forgotten? What could we not remember?
God is with us.
God has our back.
God has the solution already under control.
“The only way God can show us He’s in control is to put us in situations we can’t control.”
One by one we all made a hard stop and remembered, “God with us”. Not God watching us. Not God cheering us on from the sidelines of heaven. Not God separated from our eyes by a heavenly curtain, but “God with us”.
God is good all the time and all the time God is good. And if not…He is still good and He is still with us.
Yes, God has moved into the neighborhood, my neighborhood, your neighborhood, the neighborhood across the tracks.
His presence is real and true and faithful and steadfast. We just need to ask for His help, like the good neighbor He is.
It was understandably hard for the Jews to grasp that God would be with them, so Matthew ends his book with Jesus’ own assurance to his disciples that He was Immanuel.
“And surely I am with you always to the very end of the age.” (28:20)
Welcome to my neighborhood, Jesus.