Of all of the 300+ names and titles for Jesus given to us in the Bible, I think Emmanuel is my favorite. Wonderful counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, the Word, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Good Shepherd….all of them tell me important things about who Jesus is. But the fact that He is God with us changes everything.
It takes care of the fear factor. Think of all the times in the Bible that God told people those two pieces of information together – “Fear not, I am with you.” He told Abraham to head out into the unknown and he would be with him. Poor Moses tried to worm out of his assignment from God because he was afraid, but God told him “You’re it” and you’ll be fine because I will be with you. He told Joshua to round up the wagons and head across the Jordan into the promised land and to be strong because He would be with him. The angel told Gideon, “The Lord is with you” so don’t worry about being outnumbered. He told the prophets to speak the truth, even if nobody listened, and He would be with them. The list goes on and on.
When I’m afraid, I don’t like to be alone. There’s just something about having someone nearby that keeps my blood pressure down in stressful times. And it’s even better if it’s someone who loves me. If a gunman showed up at my grocery store, the produce man would do, but I’d feel less afraid if Jim was there. I trust him and know he would protect me. (I’m not so sure about the produce guy!) God sent Jesus to become one of us so we could relate to Him. God could have commanded our obedience since he’s sovereign over all things. But that wouldn’t produce the kind of relationship he wanted with us. He set aside everything he had in heaven and became human so he could be the sacrifice for our sins. What makes us love him is his love for us.
The last thing Jesus told his disciples before he left this earth was, “Surely I am with you always.” What an amazing thought! Almighty God right here with us, right now and forever – Emmanuel!