Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). Matthew 1:23
The movie “Star Wars: A New Hope” is my favorite movie of all time. I first saw it when I was 12 years old and have seen it countless times since.
I can quote any line from the movie, that’s how many times I’ve seen it.
There are many elements of this movie that relate the Gospel story of Jesus Christ. I learned this from one of my mentors, Francis Rossow, who taught me how to find “Gospel Handles” in stories – both written and filmed.
One of the handles in Star Wars is when Obi Wan Kenobi sacrifices himself in order to be of greater help to his “padawan” (student) Luke Skywalker.
Kenobi had been there for Luke to help him grow in his understanding and use of the Force. But he knew that to truly help Luke in the best way possible he would have to transcend limited human experience.
So he becomes “one with the Force” and is able to be present with Luke wherever Luke goes.
Like all handles and analogies, this one has its limits.
The word is defined in Matthew’s Gospel as “God with us.”
That is what Jesus truly is: God with us.
Jesus is the Son of God, as we explored in the devotion “How Will This Be?”
He is also the Son of Man, a human being. During Jesus’ earthly ministry, which began as his conception, he was limited (willingly) to where he could go and who he could be with.
But after his sacrificial death he is unlimited as to who he can be with and where he can go.
During his earthly ministry he truly was “God with us.” He was God walking around the dusty sands of Israel teaching and preaching and performing miracles.
Everywhere he went he changed lives. He healed those who were ill or had a disease. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf. He even raised people from the dead!
But he was still limited in where he could go. He could truly only be in one place at a time.
He was also limited in what he could do. He didn’t heal all the sick. He didn’t restore sight to all the blind. He did raise all the dead to life.
In case you were wondering why Jesus didn’t do this, the answer is in Matthew 13:8 “And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.”
He was still “God with us” but in a limited, localize way.
But this was to be only for a limited time!
Jesus himself said that there was going to be a time when he would be “God with us” in a limitless way.
I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. … When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16: 7, 13-15).
All of this seemingly started with a dream that Joseph had, where the angel told him that the baby Mary is carrying will be “God with us.”
But like so much of what we observe and participate in during these days leading up to Christmas, there is more to the story than meets the eye!
The promise of “Immanuel” is hundreds of years old. It didn’t start with Joseph and his dream. It was first a prophecy from Isaiah in the 8th century BC.
As we are on this epic journey of biblical proportions in these devotions, I pray it is becoming clearer that there is much more to Advent and Christmas than at first appears.
We are now less than two weeks away from Christmas morning. The path is becoming shorter. The goal is in sight – a stable outside the little town of Bethlehem.
There, in the deep darkness, is to be born the Light of the world, God with us!
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