“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14
I have a love/hate relationship with driving. I constantly drive all over SoCal everyday, whether there is traffic or not. Because I spend a little over 20 hours a week driving, it naturally grew on me. There are two things that make me uncomfortable while I’m driving; one is traffic and the other is the police. It’s not that I have anything against the police, but they sure know how to make me feel anxious. Every time my eye catches a police car within a five-foot radius, everything about my driving changes. My booming music abruptly gets softer, my incredible speed reduces to normal, I subconsciously throw my phone towards the backseat and stick both of my hands on the steering wheel. As silly as this story may be, I’ve come to realize that the presence of one person can change nearly anything.
“Immanuel” – His name literally means God with us. He is with us. It’s crazy to me that a God who is known to be holy, is the same God who is with us. His name isn’t and has never been “God who is far from us,” or “God who isn’t with us.”
As a Christian, I was finally able to comprehend why God being with us is such a significant matter. I am fully convinced that if we lived in the reality of God truly being with us, our lives would look radically different. In the same way that my driving completely changed in the presence of a police officer, so our lives dramatically transform in the presence of our Maker.
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). There may be some of you who have become calloused by this verse, but I am here to tell you that this is wonderful news! By no means must we hide our face from our gracious King, but we have been given the access to confidently approach the throne of grace! In the context of this verse, other nations had been forming an alliance to overthrow King Ahaz. King Ahaz was afraid and this was the word that the Lord had for him. “…the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14) – the God who was with King Ahaz, the same God who is presently with us.
In Matthew 1:23, Matthew the tax collector wasn’t writing a story about King Ahaz but of Jesus Christ, the Messiah. Because of Jesus, and only because of Jesus, we have been given the access to not only live but to enjoy the grace that has been given to us.
God is with us. Jesus is with us. He is not absent. He is not far, but He’s actually right next to us. I’ve noticed throughout this Christian walk, we allow the devil to overthrow us and let him beat us up. We give the enemy permission, allowing ourselves to hide our faces and become ashamed before the Good Shepherd. Some of you may be experiencing guilt, but every ounce of your shame was nailed upon the cross of Jesus, and our graceful Savior is now with you. Some of you may be feeling condemned, but that condemnation was poured out upon our Servant King who is now with you. Some of you may even fear God’s wrath, but that wrath was poured upon beloved Jesus Christ who loves you so dearly.
I am here to encourage and remind you once again that God is with us. There is no need to fear forgiveness or love; most importantly, there is no need to fear our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. For the God of all grace is with you, and living in the reality of His Presence will change everything. His name is Faithful. His name is Immanuel.
Photograph above by Wallconvert.
Patrick Chi is the Youth Pastor at Korean Hope Presbyterian Church in Cerritos, CA. He is currently pursuing a BA in Biblical Studies at Life Pacific College. He loves his friends and family, food, and stories of redemption.