Each day during this year's Advent season, I will be sharing a devotional here to help aid our hearts in preparing for the coming of Christ. These come from a book entitled "Christ's Incarnation, the Foundation of Christianity" by Charles Spurgeon. I pray that these thoughts will aid your heart in worship.
BEING "with us" in our nature, God is "with us" in all our life's pilgrimage. Scarcely can we find a single halting-place, in the march of life, at which Jesus has not paused, or a weary league of the road which He has not traversed. From the gate of entrance, even to the door which closes life's pilgrim way, the footprints of Jesus may be traced. Were you once in the cradle? He was there. Were you a child under parental authority? Christ also was a boy in the home at Nazareth. Have you entered upon life's battle? Your Lord and Master did the same; and though He lived not literally a long life, yet, through incessant toil and suffering, He bore the marred visage which usually attends a battered old age. He was not much more than thirty when the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old," evidently implying that He looked much older than He actually was.
Are you alone? So was He, in the wilderness, and on the mountain's side, and in the garden's gloom. Do you mix in public society? So did He labor in the thickest press. Where can you find yourself, on the hill-top, or in the valley, on the land or on the sea, in the daylight or in darkness, without discovering that Jesus has been there before you? We might truly say of our Redeemer that He was—
"A man so various that He seemed to be
Not one, but all mankind's epitome."
One harmonious man He was, and yet all saintly lives seem to be condensed in His. Two believers may be very unlike each other, and yet both will find that Christ's life has in it points of resemblance to their own. One may be rich and another poor, one actively laborious and another patiently suffering, yet each man, in studying the history of the Savior, shall be able to say, "His pathway ran hard by my own." He was in all points made like unto His brethren. How charming is the fact that our Lord is "God with us," not merely here and there, and now and then, but everywhere, and evermore!
Especially do we realize the sweetness of His being "God with us" in our sorrows. There is no pang that rends the heart, I might almost say not one which disturbs the body, but Jesus Christ has endured it before us. Do you feel the pinching of poverty? He could say, "The Son of man has not where to lay His head." Do you know the grief of bereavement? "Jesus wept" at the tomb of Lazarus. Have you been slandered for righteousness' sake, and has it vexed your spirit? He said, "Reproach has broken Mine heart." Have you been betrayed? Do not forget that He, too, had His familiar friend, who sold Him for the price of a slave. On what stormy seas have you been tossed which have not also roared around His boat? Never will you traverse any glen of adversity so dark, so dismal, apparently so pathless, but what, in stooping down, you may discover the footprints of the Crucified One. In the fires and in the rivers, in the cold night and under the burning sun, He cries, "I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am both your Companion and your God."
Mysteriously true is it that, when you and I shall come to the last, the closing scene, we shall find that Emmanuel has been there also. He felt the pangs and throes of death, He endured the bloody sweat of agony, and the parching thirst of fever. He knew all about the separation of the tortured spirit from the poor fainting flesh, and cried, as we shall, "Father, into Your hands I commend My spirit."
Ay, and He knew the grave, too, for there He slept, and left the sepulcher perfumed and furnished for us as a couch of rest, and not as a charnel-house of corruption. That new tomb in the garden makes Him "God with us" until the resurrection shall call us from our beds of clay to find Him "God with us" in newness of life. We shall be raised up in His likeness, and the first sight our opening eyes shall see will be our incarnate God. Every true believer can say, with Job, "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God." Yes; I, in my flesh, shall see Him as the man, the God, the God-man, Christ Jesus.
And to all eternity He will maintain the most intimate association with us. As long as the eternal ages roll, He will still be "God with us." Has He not said, "Because I live, you shall live also"? Both His human and His Divine life will last forever, and so shall our life endure. He shall dwell among us, and lead us to living fountains of waters, and so shall we be "forever with the Lord."
Ask yourselves whether you know what "God with us" means. Has it been God with you in your tribulations, by the Holy Spirit's comforting influence? Has it been God with you in searching the Scriptures? Has the Holy Spirit shone upon the Word? Has it been God with you in conviction, bringing you to Sinai? Has it been God with you in comforting you, by bringing you to Calvary? Do you know the full meaning of that Name Emmanuel, "God with us"? No; he who knows it best knows but little of it; and, alas! he who knows it not at all is ignorant indeed; so ignorant that his ignorance is not bliss, but will be his damnation unless it is removed by the Holy Spirit's effectual working. May He teach you the meaning of that Name!
My soul, try to ring out the music of these words, "God with us." Put me in the desert, where vegetation grows not; I can still say, "God with us." Put me on the wild ocean, and let my ship dance madly on the waves; I would still say, "God with us." Mount me on the sunbeam, and let me fly beyond the Western sea; still I would say, "God with us." Let my body dive down into the depths of the ocean, and let me hide in its caverns; still I could, as a child of God, say, "God with us."
“This is one of the bells of Heaven, let us strike it yet again: "God with us." It is a stray note from the sonnets of paradise: "God with us." It is the melody of the seraphs' song: "God with us." It is one of the notes of Jehovah Himself, when He rejoices over His Church with singing: "God with us."
Tell it out to all the nations that this is the Name of Him who was born in Bethlehem, "God with us,"—God with us, by His Incarnation, for the august Creator of the world did walk upon this globe; He, who made ten thousand orbs, each of them more mighty and more vast than this earth, became the inhabitant of this tiny atom. He, who was from everlasting to everlasting, came to this world of time, and stood upon the narrow neck of land between the two unbounded seas.
His Name is, indeed, wonderful: "Emmanuel." It is wisdom's mystery: "God with us." Sages think of it, and wonder; angels desire to look into it; the plumb-line of reason cannot reach half-way into its depths; the eagle-wing of science cannot fly so high, and the piercing eye of the vulture of research cannot see it. "God with us." It is hell's terror. Satan trembles at the sound of it; his legions fly apace, the black-winged dragon of the pit quails before it. Let him come to attack you, and do you but whisper that word "Emmanuel," back he falls, confounded and confused. Satan trembles when he hears that Name, "Emmanuel." It is the Christian laborer's strength; how could he preach the Gospel, how could he bend his knees in prayer, how could the missionary go into foreign lands, how could the martyr stand at the stake, how could the confessor own his Master, how could men labor if that one word were taken away? "Emmanuel." 'Tis the sufferer's comfort, 'tis the balm for his woe, 'tis the alleviation of his misery, 'tis the sleep which God gives to His beloved, 'tis their rest after exertion
“and toil. Ah! and more than that; 'tis eternity's sonnet, 'tis Heaven's hallelujah, 'tis the shout of the glorified, 'tis the song of the redeemed, 'tis the chorus of angels, 'tis the everlasting oratorio of the grand orchestra of the sky.
"Hail, great Emmanuel, all Divine,
In You Your Father's glories shine;
You brightest, sweetest, fairest one,
That eyes have seen, or angels known."