February 03, 2015

IMMANUEL: “God With Us”

Isaiah 7:10-17

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

—  Matthew 1:23

Just six weeks ago, we celebrated Christmas. What is your favorite Christmas memory? Certainly there are lots of traditions to cherish, but many people enjoy rehearsing the story and meaning of Jesus' birth in hymns and carols. I always look forward to singing, "O Come, O Come, Immanuel," because of the deep longing and hope it expresses for Jesus' coming. Immanuel means "God with us."

Looking back to Isaiah's prophecy, Matthew saw a dual fulfillment of God's promise. He understood that God delivered his people in a time of great need in Isaiah's day, and Matthew also saw the fulfillment of all of God's promises in the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. As God promised, he comes to be with us in his Son and will continue to be with us.

Further, even though we can know God in Christ now, we also long for his peace to be complete in our lives and in our world. We wait for Jesus to come again. While we wait and long, however, we have Jesus' words of assurance to his followers: "Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

With these words we can be comforted and strengthened today—comforted in knowing Jesus' continuing presence "with us" and strengthened to carry on the mission God has given us to do. In what ways are you involved in his mission?

Jesus, Immanuel, we take comfort in your presence in our lives and our world today. Even so, we pray, come again and make all things right. Amen.

About the author — Kurt Selles

Kurt Selles is the director of ReFrame Ministries and serves as the Executive Editor of Today. He is a graduate of Calvin College and Seminary, and received his PhD from Vanderbilt University. Before coming to ReFrame, he served 19 years in Taiwan and China with CRC World Missions. Kurt later taught missions at Beeson Divinity School, where he also acted as the director of the school’s Global Center. Kurt and his wife, Vicki, reside in Grand Rapids and have three adult children.

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