God with Us

by J. Randal Matheny
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At his birth, Jesus was announced by the angel as Emmanuel, “God with us,” quoting Isaiah 7:14. With his dying breath, our Lord cried in agony, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”, his excruciating question directly from Psalm 22:1.

By a righteous man who married Mary, disgrace was avoided at his birth. Dishonor, shame and condemnation were the marks of his judgment and death.

When he entered this world, kings sought him, wise men adored him, shepherds marveled at him, angels’ songs reverberated across the sky. His death, however, signaled that even the people of God had no place for one who who broke their rules but lived in perfect harmony with the heavenly Father.

For the Incarnation, angels announced, a star guided and the Spirit made possible his appearance in Bethlehem. At the cross, silence reigned, the heavens went black and Jesus suffered alone.

As a helpless baby, his parents raced to Egypt and saved him from a king’s wrath. As a strong man, muscled disciples fled from his arrest when he prevented them from battle, and the ire of the authorities nailed him to the roughened beams.

What, then, do these two moments have in common?

Just this, that a God with an eternal plan was at the helm of Jesus’ birth and death.

His marvelous birth set the stage for his bitter death.

And God said, “Let life come forth from the grave.” And it was so. There was evening, there was resurrection in the morning, the first day.

And God saw that all that he had done was very good.

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