The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel — ” God is with us.” Isaiah 7:14b
When Isaiah penned these God-breath words, I wonder if he had any inkling what God meant by the idea of Immanuel. Did he realize that God in the flesh would leave heaven and come live among us — share our meals, walk our streets, hug our necks? Did Isaiah understand that not only would we know Christ in a new way, but God would understand us, his creations, differently?
Isaiah 53 reminds us that it was our weaknesses he carried, our sorrows that weighed him down (verse 43); he was despised and rejected, a man acquainted with sorrow and the bitterest of grief. The weaknesses, sorrows, and grief we’ve known Christ knew too.
So many times we feel alone in our pain or discouraged because of our many weaknesses. This isolation is a tool used by Satan. If he can isolate us, make us feel lonely and alone, we are more apt to give into his ways and abandon the truth we know. But the truth is this: We are KNOWN by God and he loves us in the middle of all our foibles and follies, sins and setbacks. Immanuel destroyed the lie of isolation. God is not “way out there” with little-old-me stuck here alone on this complicated and angry earth.
He came as a baby to fill our loneliness, not by just being our friend but by experiencing the same loneliness. His birthplace — a lowly manger— automatically set him up for rejection. The Jews wanted a king, a royal fanfare; yet Christ came in as quiet as a snowflake. Not what his people wanted.
Repeatedly, Christ said, “This is me, know me, know God.” Yet he was continuously rejected. We’ve done the same, offering ourselves in friendships and love saying “Here I am. Know me, see me, value me.” Yet we are rejected as well. But that same cry is answered with a resounding yes by God. He does see us! He knows us! What a glorious comfort in simply being known, and in spite of or because of that knowledge, God loves us and cares for us. He never grows weary of our weaknesses and constant mess-ups.
The simple truth of Immanuel is clear. God in flesh came to earth to be with us, to experience our joys and pain, and live an ordinary life so we could truly know Him. Even now, he is with us, even when we aren’t lovable, and because of Immanuel we are known and loved—truly the best gift we ever received.