The “Why” of Immanuel [Day 20]
- December 19, 2019
- Guest Writer
Because He knows us.
For a couple of weeks I knew that I would be writing about why it matters that God became flesh, a human who was born, who grew up, and who walked this planet like we do. So I have pondered that question—sometimes intentionally, sometimes unconsciously, it has been a subtle but consistent soundtrack in the background of my brain.
Why? Why, God, did you pick this way? You could have chosen any way. You had appeared and given signs of your presence many times before—as a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire (Exodus 13:21), in the burning bush (Exodus 3:1-3), in a whirlwind (Job 31:35-37), and numerous other ways. You are unlimited. You could have come in a blaze of glory. You could have been bigger than life-size. In Greek mythology, Athena is said to have “sprung full blown” from the head of Zeus, wearing armor and prepared for battle. That is myth—but you, God, actually could have done that. You could have appeared in some flashy, showy, way—demonstrating in spectacular fashion that the God of the universe was on the scene.
But you came as a baby. In the humblest of circumstances. A virgin mother? Belief in that depended on Mary’s testimony. Without any other verification, many must have branded you illegitimate, a product of sinful behavior. A few knew your true lineage and blessed you. (Luke 5:25-38). But you surely endured the scorn of the scoffers on the way to claiming your identity.
You grew as a boy. We know you were curious, drawn to the temple to be in your Father’s house. (Luke 2:49). We know you grew “in favor with God and men.” (Luke 2:52). But your childhood may have otherwise been entirely ordinary, at least from the perspective of the neighbors—for when you went back to your hometown as an adult, few had faith that you could be anything other than the carpenter’s son. (Matthew 13:53-58).
You became a man. Baptized by your cousin, only six months your senior but already with an extensive ministry. (Matthew 3:13-17). You were largely unknown for much of your earthly life, your first recorded miracle coming in your third decade in a human body. (John 2:1-11). Within about three years, you were crucified, buried, resurrected, and ascended—gone from us in physical form yet fully present with us in Spirit.
God surely has many reasons for the “Why” of it all, but as I pondered, one thought echoed back. Because He knows us. He knows we need the experience of Him. We need the example of Him. We need to see, to feel, to hear, to know. We need our impossible to become possible because of the amazing reality of Him. It was in His humanity that we could begin to fathom the depth of His love for us. All those other times God appeared in physical form, somehow we did not really get it. Or, if we got it, we could not keep it. Moses goes up on the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments, and we are down below making idols out of our earrings. (Exodus 32:1-6). We need more than rules. We need relationship. And He knew.
Deep into His earthly ministry, Jesus asked His disciples: “Who do people say I am?” (Mark 8:27). And they responded that some said He was John the Baptist, some said Elijah, some said another prophet. (Luke 9:19). Then Jesus asked “But who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). And one who walked with Him, watched Him, heard Him, touched Him, answered “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” (Matthew 16:16).
Yes, He is. He is Immanuel. He is God with us. He is God who chose to humble Himself, to lay aside his majesty and be born in obscurity. He is God who chose to walk with us, to talk with us, to love us one-on-one. He is God who reveals Himself to us, who allows us to know Him as a brother. He is God who sacrificed and suffered that we might live. He is God who died for us, rose for us, that His Spirit might live in us. Because He knows us.
He revealed Himself to us in a deeply personal and vulnerable way. He partnered with us. And He still partners with us. By His choice. Because of His love. What an Amazing God.
There are probably an infinite number of theologically sound and very good answers to the “Why” of Immanuel. But one of them is because He knows us. And He knows that without Him, we can do nothing. But with Him—in the flesh, through His Spirit, in His presence, all things are possible. And so He became a man. He walked among us. He became flesh and sin and sacrifice that we might have life and know love in relationship with Him. Be blessed with the amazing reality of Immanuel—the amazing reality of God with you, God with me, God with us.
Guest Writer: Allison Mullins