“…the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated “God is with us.” (Matt 1:23)
What a powerful verse. Isaiah shared this prophecy hundreds of years before Jesus was even born. More powerful than the fulfillment of prophecy is the coming of God to be with us. When Jesus comes on the scene we finally have a taste of what Adam & Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden: the familiarity of God, hearing Him, walking with Him, recognizing His presence by the sound of His walking. Matthew wants his Jewish readers to know that Jesus is Israel’s Messiah. John on the other hand is less concerned with the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy and wants everyone to know that Jesus is God in the flesh. This is why instead of quoting the prophet’s, John paints picture of relationship. Jesus became flesh and took up residence among us. He dwelt among us (John 1:14). Jesus left the perfect, eternal home with God. A place without pain, without tears, without sin… He left there and came here to live in the middle of all of us.
Why? Because, God loved us. Because, He loved us. Because of love—and nothing—absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God that is found in Jesus (Rom 8:38-39). Paul will tell the Christians at Philippi that Jesus emptied Himself and didn’t try to be God while He was here—No! Paul says he became a slave, a man, a mortal and lived with us only to die for us (Phil 2:5-8). This is the story of Christmas. This is the story of Christianity. This is why we follow Christ.
It is not about what He has promised us—though he has promised us so much. It is not about a place to belong—though the church is a place where everyone belongs. It is not even about being good, or right, or holy—though we try to be all of those things. It has always been about following the One who made us, the One who loves us, the One who redeemed us, and the One pursued us when we had wandered away. He came here to be “God with us”, the least we can do is be with Him.