Did you realize when God sent His son, Jesus to come to this earth, He gave him TWO names? One was…Jesus, which means “Savior” (Matt. 1:21). The other was Immanuel, which means “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).
The pairing of these names signals a reversal in our typical understanding of salvation. We usually think of salvation as us “finding” God “out there” and going to be WITH HIM and him saving us from how it is. (Thus, the endless quest for techniques, methods, programs by which we hope to “achieve” some sort of spiritual fulfillment or harness divine favor.) The hidden premise behind all of this is the unquestioned assumption that we alone are in control of our spirituality. The problem is, and always has been… we can’t make the Christian life “work.” We can’t change our own hearts.
However, God revealed Jesus as the Savior-Immanuel which means that salvation is not achieved by trying harder nor is it our ascent out of the hard, pain-filled conditions of this world. Our real salvation is God coming to be with us, abiding in us…in all of life’s messiness, tragedy and pain. Salvation then becomes a matter of having our eyes opened to see that God is with us in this life.
In the words of the angel Gabriel, “The Lord is with you….Do not be afraid.”