“Pleased, as Man, with Men to Dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel”
There’s a scene from the sitcom “The Office” in which, after an evening of working overtime, the cast walks out to the parking lot and finds that the lot gate has been locked for the night. Trapped, they begin panicking until one of them remembers that they have the security guard’s phone number. The problem is that they don’t know his name, and so one of them has to make the awkward call to him in the middle of the night, ask for a rescue, and do so without having to say his name. In the end, the cleaning crew lets the workers out, but they forget to tell poor Hank, the security guard, and he shows up to find no one there.
There’s a startling parallel to the way that we often view Jesus. In our minds, his role is to come and die. He is valuable to us because he can unlock a door, but as long as he does that there’s not much need to know him personally. Certainly Jesus’s role is to save, as Matthew notes, but Matthew also highlights another role of Jesus’s incarnation, and it’s not, as it were, just about the cross.
Instead, Matthew highlights the name that Jesus is given through Old Testament prophecy: “Emmanuel- God with us” Matthew makes a claim that would cause many of his contemporaries to wonder- God himself is not simply coming to judge the world in a glorious appearing as we expected, he is coming in human form- in order to be with us- to live and work alongside us- to make his presence known- to introduce himself to us in his fullness. The God of advent is not simply concerned with running an errand. He is not simply valuable to us because he accomplishes a task. The God of advent as revealed in Jesus is interested in us personally, and the wonder is not simply that he would save us, but that he would actually want to be with so intimately.
-Most people think of God’s “gift” simply as a ticket into Heaven and a sparing of punishments, but Advent shows us a God who wants to live with us. How is that better? How might our view of God and our interactions with him look differently if that’s true?