Immanuel — God with us (part one)

There have been plenty of times in my life when I felt that God didn’t understand me and my struggles.  How could He, I reasoned, as He is God and I am a human that deals with sin and weakness.  Not to mention, that I was raised to believe that God nearly demanded my perfection and anything less caused Him to be disappointed in me.  But I have come to a greater understanding of God’s grace and mercy in the last couple of years.  And it all starts with a simple name that was given to Jesus…Immanuel, God with us.

I love the name Immanuel and more the meaning.  While many well-meaning Christians believe that God is mad at them and holds them at arms-length because they have messed up, the name Immanuel gives us a promise that God is with us  . . . no matter what!  The name Immanuel is the beginning of Jesus’ journey as a human.  God becomes a man and begins a most incredible journey to reconcile the world to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ.

In journeying through life as a human being, Jesus experienced humanity in its fullest.  He experienced the full range of emotions of a human.  He experienced the limitations of humanity.  He experienced the temptations that humans face.  It is sometimes hard to believe that Jesus experienced temptations like lust, greed, laziness, insecurity and so on.  Yet, we are assured in Hebrews 4:16-18 that Jesus was tempted as we are yet He didn’t give into sin.

 14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  (emphasis added)

He was tempted in every way just as we are.  What this speaks to me is that Jesus understands our humanity.  He understands the pull of temptation and sin.  He understands the struggles that we face.  He understands how easy it is to mess up our lives through one wrong choice.  He understands the effects of sin upon us.  He understands what rejection is like and what a broken heart is.  He understands these things because He experienced them as a human being.  He has been on the journey.

You never really know what someone is going through unless you have experienced it yourself.  Because Jesus experienced humanity, He understands what we face, how we feel, and He doesn’t condemn us.  He gives us grace and mercy to help in our time of need.  When you have experienced the trauma and disappointment of life, then you have greater mercy and compassion for others who are going through the same things.  Because Immanuel, God with us, has experienced humanity He has mercy and compassion upon us.  What a wonderful Savior Jesus truly is.

How does the fact that Jesus experienced the full brunt of humanity, as you and I, change your perspective of God?

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