God With Us

scene of birth of christ

Matthew records the birth in his gospel letter. Joseph, when he found out Mary was pregnant, was going to divorce her quietly because he was “unwilling to put her to shame.” Then an angel appeared to Joseph and told him not to fear to take Mary as his wife, “for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20 ESV). The angel went on to say that all this took place to fulfil what God spoke through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us)” (vs. 23).

This was especially important for Jewish people, because there was a consistent message of God being with people to lead them and provide shelter for them. Isaiah 41:10 says, Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteousness.” Likewise, Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Over and over again the Lord tells the Israelites not to fear because he is with them and will be their helper. Jesus was named Immanuel, which means God with us. God sent his son to become flesh and dwell with man. Jesus lifted those who were weak and weary. He freed the oppressed and bound up the injured. It should not be surprising that the last sentence recorded in Matthew’s gospel is this: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

The Consolation and Redemption of Israel


When Jesus was born, a man named Simeon was at the Temple, waiting for the consolation of Israel. The word for consolation literally means an urgent call done by someone close by. Context determines the exact meaning (e.g. urging, encouragement, comfort, appeal, exhortation). Luke 2:25 (ESV) says: “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel.”

Context for this word means “consolation.” Consolation is the comfort received after a great loss. Simeon was waiting for Israel to receive comfort by the one calling out on her behalf. He was told by the Spirit that he would not die until he saw the Lord’s Christ. When the baby Jesus was brought to Simeon, he blessed God and said,
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel” (Luke2:29-32)

Israel was desperate. Injustices had gone on for generations. People were weary. They were crying out, desperate to find hope. God sent his son to rescue the perishing, to liberate the oppressed suffering.

At the same time, there was a prophetess named Anna. She was a widow and stayed at the Temple day and night with fasting and prayer. She was eighty-four. Luke records, “And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38). Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel. Anna was speaking to all the people waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Christ was the one who would bring both consolation and redemption! The time was here for people to be comforted and rescued by the only One who would do so. Immanuel–God is with us!

Photo by Greyson Joralemon on Unsplash