Saturday, December 6, 2014
Emmanuel--God is With Us!-by Linden Malki
The angel that came to Joseph with an explanation of Mary's impending child described Him first and foremost as the One who would save us from sin, using a word God had given to Isaiah: He shall be called Emmanuel: God with us.* As we see the upcoming Christmas season all around us, we need to thank God for coming to be with us. As we heard last Sunday morning, what is "Christmas" without Jesus?
What does it mean that Jesus is "Emmanuel"? Anytime we see a name with -el in Scripture, we need to know that it refers to "El" , one of the names used for God; this is a person who is intended to show something about God. Isaiah's prophecy describes the child whom God will send as not just a replay of King David but "Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Is 9:6-7) This is more than a description of a human being, but of God Himself.
The writings of John unpackage this for us: First, Jesus is the Word of God, who was the creative side of God and the physical universe. When John reports a conversation at the very beginning of His ministry that uses both "Son of God" and "Son of Man", we see Him as being a connecting point between God and Man. We see Jesus defending the sanctity of what He describes as "My Father's House". We see Him describing God sending His Son to save the world. We see Him healing the sick and raising the dead--reversing the normal progression of human life. We see Him claiming to have seen Abraham, and even existing before Abraham, using the God-Name "I AM".
And yet He was fully human; did all those things that we do to live our lives. He even died as human beings did; bloody, in pain. Unlike human beings, though, He didn't stay dead, and as Peter told a festival crowd in Jerusalem: This Jesus, whom you put to death, is both Lord and Christ.
It is interesting that the two human beings who perhaps knew Jesus on earth better than anyone else, Peter and John, both understood Him to be the eternal Son of God. The Church has wrangled with the meaning of this since the beginning; we as human beings cannot fully understand it on this earth. We can know, as we celebrate the birth of a human baby, that it is God Himself showing Himself to us.
*Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23