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). Matthew 1:21-23 (ESV)
There’s nothing like a great movie line. You know, those iconic phrases that defy time and endure from one generation to the next. Marlon Brando’s “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse” from The Godfather. Judy Garland’s “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore” from the Wizard of Oz. Bogart’s “Here’s looking at you kid,” and Eastwood’s “Go ahead and make my day” (from Casablanca and Dirty Harry respectively). Some of those lines become so associated with the actor that the two become inseparable. Take for instance, Greta Garbo. The mere mention of her name brings to mind the phrase, “I want to be alone.”
The truth is, however, that none of us really want to be alone. Deep down, most of us really desire not to be alone. We want someone to be with us. It’s amazing then that on a planet of eight billion people and more ways to communicate than ever before that we are more alone than ever before. Texts, emails, internet chats, Facebook, Twitter, cell phones, and Skype don’t seem to fill the deepest longing of our hearts for someone to be physically present. We want someone with us.
That’s part of the beauty of Christmas. When Joseph learned that his fiancé was pregnant, he thought he might just quietly end the relationship and walk away. But an angel came to him with a message that the child Mary carried was no ordinary child. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was the fulfillment to a promise made long ago (Isaiah 7:14). This child was to be called Immanuel. Immanuel means “God with us.”
The Bible is full of passages where we see God’s desire to be with His people. He walked with Adam and Eve. He had a tabernacle built so He could dwell in the midst of His people. And, in fulfillment of that promise made long ago, He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Where our natural inclination is to run from God because of the sin in our lives, He comes to us. We defy Him and hide from Him, yet He comes for us. Why?
The angel told Joseph that this Jesus would come to save His people from their sins. God came to us and He came for us. He came to pay the price so we could be with Him forever. Our sin drives us from God. Our tendency is to run and hide from Him. And there, in our fears and isolation, the reality sinks in. We are alone….alone and longing for someone to reach out and be with us. We want someone to come near and fill the void in our lives.
Because of Jesus, we don’t have to be apart from God. We don’t have to be alone. We don’t have to run and hide. He has come to fill the void in our lives. He has met our greatest need and He is with us. We are alone no more. He is Immanuel.
Further Reading: John 1