I don’t know of a better way to wrap up my posts that focus on WITH, than looking at the greatest WITH of all … God WITH Us!
The prophet Isaiah told King Ahaz,
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)
In her advent devotional, Pursuing the Christ: 31 Morning and Evening Prayers for Christmastime, Jennifer Kennedy Dean says:
Jesus, You are “God with us.” I cannot quite grasp the fullness of it. Something more than God somewhere in the vicinity. More than God down the street. More than God within shouting distance. God with us.
Think about that. What does it mean that God is with us? Jennifer continues by answering it this way:
Can our English word with capture it? Does it mean “with me” like someone next to me? No, nearer than that. Does it mean “with me” like someone holding me in tight embrace? No, nearer than that. “With me” like the blood in my veins? No, nearer still. “With me” like the beat of my heart? No, nearer, nearer.
Then she says this:
“I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2: 20). With me becomes in me.1
Apart from the prophets and priests, very few people in the Old Testament had a personal relationship with God. Abraham did. Moses did. King David did. Maybe a couple more.
Other than a select few, the priests were the only ones who interacted with God. They were the mediators between the people and God. Even then, the priest’s role was to offer sacrifices on the behalf of a sinful nation. The priests themselves did not have an intimate relationship with God. It was rather scary for them. If they didn’t do things just right, they could be killed.
Until Jesus …
The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NIV)
God the Son came to earth and lived among men. He lived with us! People knew Him well. He had best friends.
Before He died, Jesus prayed:
I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me. (John 17:22-23)
His death and resurrection opened a new way to have a relationship with God the Father. No longer was a priest necessary to mediate between God and sinful man–Jesus became our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
When Christ ascended to the Father, He left us with a very special gift: the Holy Spirit. It is this Spirit who lives in us.
It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us. (2 Corinthians 1:22-23)
What is that promise? Eternal life!
This is the reason Jesus was born. This is what Christmas is all about!
Thank you, friends, for sharing your year with me here at Sweeter Than Honey!
I pray that you and your loved ones experience all that it means to have God WITH you and IN you this Christmas!!
God bless you and see you next year!!
1Dean, Jennifer Kennedy. “December 1.” Pursuing the Christ: 31 Morning and Evening Prayers for Christmastime. Birmingham, Ala.: New Hope, 2008. 16-18. Print.