“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘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).”
– Matthew 1:18-23ESV
When I met my husband, he had already been an avid roller skater for eighteen years. And unlike my dedication to walking for some twenty-odd years, which had shown little improvement in avoiding embarrassing moments of clumsiness, he had put his years of skating to good use. He didn’t just skate… he could breakdance on wheels. I’m talking stalls, spins, backflips, jumps, and more. (If you’re really interested, you can find plenty of examples on YouTube.) By comparison, my roller blading had peaked in 8th grade at little more than desperately careening around the roller rink as fast as I could. I hadn’t skated since.
To watch my husband skate was amazing. Until that point, I hadn’t realized what was possible. Quickly, skating became a regular part of our relationship. Unfortunately, it was a rocky restart for me, and on roller skates this time. I wanted to do what my husband did, to learn to love what he loved and do what he did. Where he glided, I staggered. Where he stopped on a dime, I careened on. Where he easily dodged other skaters, I fell.
But every circuit of the rink, he was with me. He could have been dancing in the middle of the floor, drawing admiration, photos, and requests for coaching (which happened regularly.) Instead, he set aside himself to teach me, to help me up, to model the skills to me I needed to grow as a skater. Eight years later, there are still no backflips or rolling splits, but falls are rare, and I can skate on my toes and spin. I have a long way to go, but people now occasionally ask me for advice on how they can grow as skaters. That is all because Joseph set aside his chance for glory. He chose, instead, to be with me. And when Jesus entered into this world through Mary’s womb…He did and does much the same on a much greater scale.
In Matthew 1:18-23, Matthew highlights a prophecy about Jesus from Isaiah: ‘Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’ (which means, God with us).” Of all the titles Jesus could claim and would claim, the one He chose to prophesy His coming hundreds of years before it would happen is “God with us.” He is the All-Mighty Creator, King of the Universe, Commander of Angels, Vanquisher of Evil, Lord of the Earth, Knower of All, worthy of all “glory and honor and power” (Revelation 4:11). Yet the name from prophecy, the name by which generations of people would look forward to his coming…was “God with us.”
Jesus wanted us to know He is the God who is with us. The God who will sacrifice all He is entitled to so He can have a relationship with us…with you. He speaks love into your life by revealing His character in the Bible, by speaking through the words and actions of the people around you. He summons you back to Him and pursues you into your darkness, seeking you out to heal you…even in the darkest corners of your life. No matter how hard and fast and far you fall…the cold, scratchy, filthy cradle in a cave in poverty-stricken Ancient Israel is a testament to your “God with us”.
Fearlessly, He demonstrated how far He is willing to fall to lift you up. The God who spun out the cradles of the stars chose to be born, helpless and weeping, into a brutal world on the first Christmas. He walked in the shadow of the cross His whole life on earth…to be where you are for all your days…on both sides of eternity.
- If you could choose any name to be known by, what name would you chose for yourself?
- Jesus chose “God with us” to be the name we first knew Him by. What does that tell you about what kind of relationship He has with you?
- Many people view God as far-off and detached from what happens in our world. Knowing our God is “God with us”, how does that reframe how you view Him?
- Challenge for the Week: If God is with you always, that means there is evidence of Him at work in your life all the time. Spend some time each day intentionally looking for the little ways He is at work in your heart and in your environment. Keep notes of what they are so you can reflect on how God might be trying to speak into your life.