Immanuel

Isaiah didn’t just prophecy that Jesus would come to us.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 (ESV) 

This is one of the most beautiful prophecies of the birth of Jesus Messiah in the Bible. I have heard it every Christmas my whole life and sung about it in carols. But I never really looked at the context of this prophecy until recently. God gave this prophecy to Ahaz, one of the most wicked kings in the history of Israel.  

[Ahaz] followed the ways of the kings of Israel and also made idols for worshiping the Baals. He burned sacrifices in the Valley of Ben Hinnom and sacrificed his children in the fire, engaging in the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 2 Chronicles 28:2-3 

The setting of Isaiah’s words to Ahaz is the coming against Jerusalem of two kings and their armies. Isaiah records that when this happened “the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” So, God sent the prophet to Ahaz to encourage him and assure him that these two kings would not be successful. God then commands Ahaz to ask for a sign that he indeed would save Israel from her enemies. But in rebellion, masquerading as false-humility, Ahaz refuses, “I will not ask; I will not test the LORD.” Exasperated, Isaiah replies, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God as well?” But then God himself gives the sign, the glorious promise, not just for Israel, but for all the world, for all time. 

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 (ESV) 

Think about this: Ahaz would be Jesus’ 16th great-grandfather. And, just as God did not have to bring his Son into the world with such an evil person in his family tree (see Rahab), God did not have to introduce this most wonderful of prophecies about his Son to such an evil person in such a depraved place.  It must have seemed like such a waste to Isaiah, like the pouring out on the ground of a drink offering – as Jesus’ blood dripping down from the cross must have seemed a waste to the grieving disciples. But God pours out his healing saving miraculous redeeming amazing Word over and over into the muddied swill of the human pigpen. He doesn’t give up on us. 

And look! Even more amazing, God didn’t just prophecy, through Isaiah, that Jesus the Savior would be born; he didn’t just prophecy that Jesus would come to us. He prophesied that Jesus would stay with us. Immanuel. God with us.  

And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. Matthew 28:20 (ESV) 

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. Luke 19:10 

If you feel like you are too terrible, too far gone to come to God, remember this. God is with you even now. And remember that it was in a pigpen that the prodigal son decided to go back home. Salvation

Image created from a Pixabay free download 

Jesus in the Middle

You know what is the most amazing and wondrous example of Jesus in the middle?

Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18 

Jesus in the middle. It seems like Jesus was always in the middle. The Greek word translated “in the middle” is mesos – the middle, the midst, in the midst of, amongst, between. It comes from meta, which means “with,” “denoting accompaniment,” “amid.” 

That’s why he came – to be with us, among us, in our midst. That was his mission and his passion. From the beginning to the end of his life on earth when he died still in the middle of sinful man. 

[When he was 12 years old:] After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among (or, in the midst of) the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:46 

[His last night on earth:] For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. Luke 22:27 (ESV) 

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God revealed to John the Baptist that Messiah was coming and that he was in our midst, not like John himself, who had kept himself separated. 

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know.” John 1:26 

So many times, the Bible tells of Jesus in the middle of the crowd, being grasped at and jostled, so that in the crush his disciples would be astonished that he could ask, “Who touched me?” (Luke 8:45) 

And Jesus touched them, and held them, and he mingled with them, and he ate with them, and he welcomed them – much to the consternation and distain of many. 

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the crowds were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Luke 19:6-7 (NLT) 

Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2 (NASB) 

 But you know what is the most amazing and wondrous example of Jesus in the middle? It’s in Colossians: 

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away (out of our mesos = midst, out from amongst us), nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14 

Do you see it? He took out from our midst all our sins, all that stood against us, all that opposed us, all the kept us separated from the love of God. And he replaced it with Himself. One of the meanings of mesos is “between.” Jesus stood between us and the just wrath of God. Like Aaron the High Priest, a type of Jesus, who ran into the midst of the assembly with the censer, stopping the deadly plague (Numbers 16:44-50). Jesus in the middle. 

And he is still in the middle, still in our midst, still interceding for us. His blood shed on the cross for all time has stopped the deadly plague of sin and death if we will but look to him in faith. 

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36  

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20 (ESV) 

… and in the middle of the lampstands [which represent the churches] I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. Revelation 1:13 (NASB) 

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” Hebrew 2:11-12 (ESV) 

This post is also available as a Bible study at https://hiddentreasurebiblestudies.home.blog/2021/06/03/jesus-in-the-middle/

Image: Ford Maddox Brown, Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet [1852-6], Tate Archive, image  released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) 

%d bloggers like this: