Posted by: Jonathan Stepp | December 29, 2008


What does it mean to say that Jesus is Immanuel, “God with Us”? There are lots of ways you can be “with” someone.

A mobster might be with me once a week, when he comes by my store to demand I pay him protection money. I pay up or he breaks my knee caps. Some people have this image of God, so they come to church each week and pay their protection money.

Sometimes we say that someone is with us in “spirit”. Which generally means we feel a strong connection to them and maybe keep up with each other on Facebook. I heard recently that some jokester set up an account on Facebook and called himself “God”.

There are also a lot of people who have this second image of God. They seem him as our friend in the sky, his Facebook profile is called the Bible and if you’re really lucky someday he’ll answer one of the thousands of email messages you’ve sent him – we call them prayers.

Neither of these images of “God with Us” is what the Bible means when it talks about Immanuel. The Bible says that the Word (i.e. the Son), the second person of the Triune God, has become a real flesh and blood human being and taken up residence with us, alongside us, and in us. (John 1:14).

Jesus is the union of the Divine nature with human nature. He is fully the Son of God and fully Human and he will never stop being either one of those. He will always be fully God, just like the Father and the Holy Spirit, and he will always be fully human just like us.

This means that when we say he is Immanuel, “God with Us”, we mean it literally. In Jesus, humanity is adopted into the Divine Life and the Divine Life in-fleshes (incarnates) himself in us.

Because Jesus is Immanuel humanity will always be seated right beside the Father, humanity will always be his children, and God the Father, Son, and Spirit will never leave us or forsake us.

That’s the good news of Christmas!


  1. Brilliant!

  2. Thanks Jonathan for articulating with boldness and confidence that Jesus is reality for all humanity and that even if we do not know we are known loved and belong to God, the hope of glory in all of us! A relation without the trappings! What a message of Good News! jg

  3. Jonathan. What a great image in the early part of the post! Sadly, I have known many Christians who dutifully go to Church every week to pay their protection money to the gangster god so that their knee caps will not be eternally broken.

    We have missed the reality that in the face of the incarnate Son, we see the face of God, for Jesus is God with us. In the loving acts of Jesus, the friend of sinners, the champion of the broken, the abused, the despised and the down and out, we see the acts of God, for there is no other God than the God revealed in Jesus. As Tom Torrance, following Athanasius, constantly reminds us, the Father, Son and Spirit are one in being and agency. In plain talk, this means that in the loving eyes of Jesus we peer deeply into the heart of God, for the heart of the Father is not different from the heart of the Son.

    Martin Davis

  4. Thanks, guys, for the encouraging comments!

  5. I love this. Great comments you saints. I have a little story I want to share with you.

    This little beggar boy sat on a street corner with his little tin cup begging all day for a little change passers by might give. One noon rush hour the press of pedestrians was so strong that someone kicked over his little cup and his coins went flying all over the sidewalk and into the busy street.

    Passers by went by as if nothing had happened while the little boy tried frantically to pick up his coins.

    All of a sudden a man appeared out of the croud, knelt down and began picking up the coins to help the child gather them all up.

    The little boy didn’t know what to say but ‘thankyou’ to the man who had helped him gather all of his coins back into his little cup.

    As the man turned around to leave the little boy looked up and asked, ” Sir, are you JESUS?”

    Without hesitationg the man replied, “Why yes, son. I am.”

    Maybe we need to look a little deeper into this story than how we previously have. ( John 14:20)

    God Bless

    Paul Kurts

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