All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet:
“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 1:22-23 New Living Translation
Immanuel, God is with us; I can’t help but imagine what that phrase meant to a people who once had their own nation and government but now lived as the conquest of the latest and greatest empire to appear on the scene. Many, perhaps even Joseph and Mary, may have felt that they had been abandoned by their God. They waited for what they believed would be a political and military deliverer who would restore their nation back to the greatness it once knew. They wanted to believe that Yahweh was not through with them and the name Immanuel represented that hope more than any other name associated with Jesus. Once again God would make His presence known in Israel.
When Immanuel came, though, it wasn’t in the way that many expected. He was not born in a place that would grant Him power and influence from a human perspective. He never knew great amounts of wealth. He came as a vulnerable baby born to a humble family. He spent His life talking about a Kingdom that was not measured by the standards of this world. It was a place where people of the lowest position could find a home and community but the rich and the powerful often found it difficult to enter in. God was truly among them, but many would not see this because of their own bias.
We live in a world that often feels broken and disjointed and we may wonder if God is anywhere near us at all. Often we find ourselves looking to anyone who will promise to take away those things we fear to be our deliver and give us a feeling of power and security again. God promises that His presence will always be with us. Often, though, it doesn’t come in the way we expect it to.
Father, help us to always be on the lookout for your presence in our world. Help us to see it, even when it appears in a way that we don’t expect.