Matthew 1:22-25 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
What is something small in your life that has changed everything? Perhaps it was a child, a pet, an impromptu meeting, a move, a conversation, a discovery, making a team, missing a plane. Our lives tell the stories of seemingly small things, occurrences, interactions, and words that have made big differences in multiple ways. Sometimes they add up to make a difference. Sometimes they stand all by themselves. Sometimes they alter our route, introduce a new chapter, or change the way we see or how we hear.
“With” is a word that changes everything.
Matthew’s gospel gives Jesus a grand introduction as Immanuel, which means “God with us.” It’s easy to skip ahead and miss the significance of this announcement, especially if our first reaction is “yeah, I know.” The Greek word translated "with” is metá. Metá does not just signify a nonchalantly-preoccupied-and-texting-while-standing-by kind of presence, but can rather imply a state of with-ness that looks towards an after-effect, change, or result. “God with us” certainly means God hasn’t forgotten us and is not hanging out in a distant galaxy far, far away-- but it’s way more than that. Jesus was born and lived on this earth because God is in the business of transformation. Just as being with different people can change us and shape us, there is a result from being with God.
Is there a result in your life from Immanuel? Do you find peace in the midst of chaos, do you chase grace over being “right,” do you express generosity instead of selfishness, do you submit your will to God’s instead of vice versa, do you have an eternal mindset over a temporal one? Do others see Christ in you—or do they only see you in you?
Who you are “with” may seem like a small thing, but it has big implications. It can alter your route, introduce a new chapter, or change the way you see or hear.
In Advent, God whispers that above all else, he desires to be with us.
Are you listening?