By Edward Thal /
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son,
and they shall call his name Emmanuel,
which being interpreted is God with us. (Matthew 1:23)
There is no greater word given to humanity than Emmanuel: God with us.
This word spells the difference between hope and hopelessness, between Truth and folly, between life and religion, between life and death. In order to better appreciate Emmanuel we must go back to the Old Testament for a brilliant illustration of the difference between a false god and the true God With Us.
I Kings 18:17-39 is the story of the followers of the pagan god Baal, and their conflict with a follower of the true God. Note the contrast between the false worshippers who leap and shout and beg and inflict pain on themselves in their attempts to get Baal’s attention, and the calm certainty of Elijah. Religion encourages us to heroic efforts to reach god, but the truth is quite different: see Romans 10: 6-9.
There is a great difference between people of religion and people of faith, between those –
- who merely admire Christ and those who worship Him;
- who believe He may be available to help them under certain conditions, and those who know He has purchased them;
- who know about Him and those who know Him;
- who honor Him as a great man or a great moral teacher and those who trust their soul to Him for ever and ever.
The great tragedy of our time is that humanity faces grave perils but the only Truth that offers a way out of the human dilemma is obscured by the vague name of “Christian” that covers two very different religions and two distinct and incompatible gods.
Those who call themselves Christians yet do not know Jesus Christ – merely know about Him – are followers of a comfortable idea, not a Living God who will invade their space and turn their lives upside down.
In the day when Jesus walked this earth and taught and worked miracles many followed Him for the immediate benefits and entertainment He offered. But when He refused to confirm their superstitions and conform to their opinions they tired of Him and turned on Him; some mocked Him, some spat on Him and others tortured Him to death.
It was only through His resurrection that a few came to know Jesus as God’s Presence. The Lord from heaven. Emmanuel. God with us.
The difference in our perspective of Jesus makes a huge difference in our relationship with Him. If He was merely a very good man then I may strive to one day be very good, like Him. Or I may decide later to follow another. But if He is God, God with us, then I can never be like Him, I can only worship Him.
And I can only truly worship Him if I have received His life: if God is with me!
- Is Jesus your hero or your Eternal Lord and God?
- Is He the prophet and champion of your own abilities, or is He the redeemer of your spiritual poverty and moral failure?
- Do you entrust yourself to the religion He represents, or to Him personally?
On the answer to these questions hangs the fate of your eternal soul. When the name Emmanuel is personal to you, what you have in Christ is not an impression but a life change; not a belief but a conviction. Emmanuel does more than deeply influence you: He possesses you. You are not His loyal subject; you are His absolute property. Everything you have you owe to Him – and He owes Himself to no man.