James Smith, 1856
"They shall call His name Immanuel." Matthew 1:23
In proportion as we love Jesus, will be our joy at the dignity conferred on Him, and the glory ascribed to Him. It delights the spiritual mind to know that it cannot think too highly of Jesus, or ascribe too much to Him; and as it thinks over His names and titles, it rejoices to find that all honor and glory are given Him. He is not only Jesus, the all-sufficient, ever-loving, and ever-living Savior — but He is Immanuel, "which is, being interpreted, God With Us."
He wasGod FOR us — before He became God with us; and it was because He was for us — that He became God with us. His heart was set upon us from everlasting. He always loved us, and loved us with an infinite, consequently with an inconceivable, love. He delighted in us ages before he appeared among us. When creation-work was going on, He was rejoicing before His Father, and His delights were with the sons of men. In the looking-glass of the eternal decrees He saw us, anticipated the time when he would come among us, and rested in His love to us. In the covenant He engaged for us, in the promise He was pledged to us, in the types He was presented to us, in the predictions He appeared as though among us; and, at length, He literally became one with us. For "the children being partakers of flesh and blood, He likewise Himself also took part of the same." Thus He became —
God WITH us.God in our nature; God in our world. God in our nature and in our world, as one of ourselves. This is the great mystery of godliness, "God was manifest in the flesh." The Divine nature underwent no change — but it was mysteriously united to the human. The body became the temple of Deity. The whole human nature became one with God. In that nature dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Thus God came as near to us, as He possibly could. He became one with us, dwelt among us, sympathized with us, spoke to us, wrought before us, suffered instead of us, and died to save us.
O mystery of mercy! O wonder of wonders! The man of Nazareth, who was despised and rejected of men, who suffered the just for the unjust, who was put to death in the flesh — was Immanuel, God with us! The babe of Bethlehem, sitting on Joseph's knee, or lying in Mary's bosom — was the true Almighty God! The youth in the temple, listening to the rabbis and asking them questions — was the Creator of the universe! The stranger, sitting on the edge of Jacob's well, and talking with the guilty Samaritan woman — was God over all, and blessed for evermore!
He wasGod LIKE us; that is to say, He became as much like us as possible. True, the Divinity did not become human, nor the humanity Divine; the natures were distinct — but were so united that the two became one person. The Divine nature was one with us. Man once aimed to be as God, and now God stoops to be as man. Jehovah Jesus is like us; he thinks, he speaks, he feels, he works, he suffers, he dies, as we do. He enters, by experience, into all the peculiarities of our nature. In our afflictions, He is afflicted. He Himself bore our sicknesses, and carried our sorrows; He is therefore still touched with the feeling of our infirmities. We do not conceive it possible for God to become more like us, than He has.
He isGod IN us. This was the effect of His being one with us. "I will dwell in them and I will walk in them, says the Lord Almighty." God's mystery among the Gentiles is, Christ in us the hope of glory. "I live," said Paul, "and yet not I — but Christ lives in me." Our bodies are the members of Christ. Our persons are the temples of God. God dwells in us — the affections are His throne, the heart is His home. Thus God was for us before time, therefore He became God with us in time; being God with us, He became as much as possible like us; and having become like us, He takes up his abode in us. Thus God dwelleth in us — and we dwell in God.
And why was all this?
Just that we may be FOR God, as His portion; His people; His representatives; His sons; His servants. That we may think for Him, speak for Him, work for him, suffer for Him, and, if required, die for Him, as many have. The Lord says, "I will be for you — and you shall be for Me." Beloved, let us daily, hourly, bear in mind, that it is of us the Lord says, "This people have I formed for Myself; they shall show forth My praise." Immanuel "gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people zealous of good works."
That we may be WITH God. Jesus came to earth — that we might go to heaven. He tabernacled in a tent among men — that we might dwell with God in a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. O glorious mystery! I live — because Jesus died; I shall be happy — because Jesus suffered; I shall dwell with God — because Jesus dwelt with men.
That we may be LIKE God. Not divinities, not deified; but like God in holiness, in happiness, in glory. My will running parallel with His will; my heart beating in unison with His heart, and having the same object in view, and aiming at the same end. As God became as much like me as possible — so I shall be as much like God as possible.
That we may be IN God. Hence Jesus prayed, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me!" John 17:20-23.
What can it be to be in God? — to dwell in God? — united to the Divine nature as closely and as gloriously as possible? We must die to know it fully.
Brethren, how wonderful the grace of God! That God should be for us — who were against Him. That He should come to be with us — who said, "Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of Your ways." That He should become like us — who had lost all resemblance to Him. That He should enter and dwell in us — where Satan had dwelt, and wrought, and reveled.
Nor is it less wonderful to consider that all this was, that we may be won over to be for Him who were enmity against Him. That we should be with Him — who deserved to be banished eternally from Him. That we should be made like Him — who loathed Him, and debased ourselves even unto hell. That we should be in Him — who were gone as far from Him as it was possible for us to go!
My soul, dwell upon this glorious subject! Dwell upon it until filled with wonder, love, and praise! And may the Holy Spirit unfold yet more and more to your view — the wonders that are wrapped up in this glorious name of your beloved Lord, "Immanuel."
"On such love, my soul, still ponder.
Love so vast, so rich, so free;
Say, while lost in holy wonder,
Why, O Lord, such love to me?
Grace shall reign eternally!"