In the Old Testament, the people of Israel carried around the Tabernacle, in which God dwelt among his people. It was portable so it could travel with them. God wanted to be with his people wherever they were, wherever life took them. When it came time for the hundreds of prophecies foretelling of Christ to be brought to a glorious culmination with his birth in Bethlehem, the most prized, resonant truth is that now he is not only among us but with us and in us.
Immanuel. God is with us.
“He came into the very world he created. . . . So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son” (John 1:10, 14, NLT).
I love the story of a swallow that flew into a burning barn. Other swallows were inside, and there was only one tiny hole at the top of the eaves from which to escape. Because of the smoke, the birds could not see a way out, until the new swallow—who looked just like them—entered through the hole to guide them to safety. Jesus came to be with us where we live so he could guide and lead us. Fully God and fully man, as his birthday proves.
Better, even, than living among us, with us, is that Jesus made way for God to live in us. His atoning death made us holy enough for God to indwell us in the form of the Holy Spirit. No further need for a traveling tent—God goes with us wherever we go. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).
This day, let’s take a moment and wholeheartedly thank God for loving us so much that he not only made a way for us to be with him, eternally, he made a way to be with us right now, every day, wherever we may go in the here and now. Merry Christmas!
Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23, NLT