Join in the comments below as we discuss a new name of Jesus each week of Advent. This season, we’re intentionally looking for Jesus, for His face in the midst of all of the world’s constant movement. We’re using Ann Spangler’s Immanuel: Praying the names of God through the Christmas Season, but you can join in without reading the book.
I know I said my favorite name of God is I AM, but this week’s is definitely a close second.
I wonder if we really, truly grasp what that means. Prior to Jesus’ birth, God was present only in select places. Unless He manifested Himself in a special way, only select priests could go into the Holy of Holies and only then after much preparation and up on fear of death if their sin collided with His glory.
Do we get what Jesus has done? That when He died, the veil of the Temple was torn from top to bottom (my favorite Scritpture, Matt. 27:51, Mk 15:38), signifying to the world that God had unleashed Himself to be present with us. First in the form of Jesus, then by the Holy Spirit actually inside us. To Old Testament believers, the idea of God physically among us, let alone dwelling in us, would have been amazing and incredible, perhaps unbelievable. Do we take for granted that we can now approach God in our cars, on our beds, as we work out, or as we clean the kitchen? Do we really get this?
I want you to think back on the lowest time of your life and tell me what you recall. When I was in the deepest throes of fear, unable to even leave my house 22 years ago, I look back and I see me, curled up in a ball in my room, wondering if I’ll ever be “normal” again. But I also see God. Overall and first thing, I see God. I see how He provided me support. How He ultimately healed me. And over everything, I simply feel His presence and know that He was there the whole time, even there were moments back then when I felt utterly alone. I never was.
How would life look if first thing in the morning and last thing at night we acknowledged Christ with us always? Would our day be different? Would our entertainment choices change? Our interactions be different? Would we have more peace and seek to do more for Him? I promise you… Jesus with us all the time makes us different. It has to, or He isn’t Jesus. His very presence demands a change. Read the Gospels and see. No one who encountered Him walked away the same unless they denied Him. Even then, their lives were different.
Immanuel. God with us. God who lowered Himself to the filth of our sinful world, into a stable no less. God who loves us so much He could have wiped us out from the moment Eve and the serpent spoke, but who instead chose to make the ultimate sacrifice, leaving heaven and glory to dwell with us and die for us. How can that ever leave us the same?