I enjoy picking my daughters up from school. At this stage in the game, the little ones are still excited to see me. Regardless of what might have happened at school for them, I’m happy to see them. I’m glad I get to be there with them. In reflecting on the relationship of a father to his children, I’m reminded that our Heavenly Father wants to “be with us”.
Throughout the Old Testament, expectations grew and grew concerning a coming Messiah who would rescue the Jewish people. While God’s chosen people were awaiting this salvation, different theories emerged as to how this would happen. Certain Jewish teachers believed that the Messiah would only come when moral righteousness among the Jewish people was achieved. Much focus was placed upon individual and communal purity. Though these are admirable goals to pursue, those hopes were misplaced as that equation made Jewish obedience the lynch-pin in God’s salvific plans.
If we all need to be perfect to bring about salvation, I think we’d still be waiting for the Holy One to come.
The world at that time was not close to perfection…and still isn’t! There was a lot of darkness. One can see it in Jesus’ birth story (with a maniacal baby-killing king) and in his death (as Jesus forgave, he was unjustly sentenced, crucified, abandoned, etc). In the amazing act of grace of sending His Son to the world, God didn’t wait for us to get it right. The equation was not “Get yourself right, then follow me” or “Obey and then your sins are forgiven”. Rather, God came. God showed up. God moved into the neighborhood. He became acquainted with pain, suffering, and every part of the human condition. He became the gift that was exactly what we needed and what we could not do for ourselves. He did it for you. He did it for me. He wants you forever.
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 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”). (Matthew 1:21-23)
Whether you had a bad day at school or have been in a season of struggle, know the Father sees you, loves you, and runs to you. He welcomes you and embraces you because you are His. He sent Jesus to reconcile you to himself, not after we had it figured out, but while we are still in darkness and amidst our rebellion.
May you receive this beautiful and wonderful gift of Emanuel, God with us!