God in the Present Tense

Matthew 1:23

Many names and titles are ascribed to our Lord in the Scriptures. They describe not only what He has done, but what He is. Not only the spiritual benefits of the past, but what He can do in us and for us in the present.

Among the names and titles of God’s Son is one of particular significance to His followers—Emmanuel—given centuries before His birth in the prophecy of Isaiah (7:14): “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel.”

The fulfillment of that promise is found in Matthew 1:23: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, which means, ‘God with us.’ ”

“God with us”—now! The Present tense!

He is as close as the whisper of His name. Not in some far-off celestial computer center operating the machinery, but cradled in human hearts and minds.

He was Immanuel—God with us—in the cradle, eliciting the usual human expressions of adoration, love and admiration which come from any group looking upon a newborn baby. No doubt, He kicked and waved His little arms as if to invite doting visitors to take His pudgy little hand in theirs, and to speak in the high-pitched voice which uninhibited baby admirers are prone to use. There in a crude cradle in a Bethlehem stable He was God with us.

He was Immanuel—God with us—on the cross. There were those who recognized Him, even there, as “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14) who had “pitched his tent” among them for 33 years. Incarnational living comes through acceptance of the message of the cross, and the sacrifice of Jesus, our Savior.

He is Immanuel—God with us—as the Comforter. Our Lord’s promise is still relevant: “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you” (John 14:16, 18).

Jesus further reinforces the truth of his abiding presence in Matthew 28:20:

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Robert A. Watson, The War Cry


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