“God with us.”—Matthew 1:23
There will be such a mystery unfolded, in “God in our nature,” as will fill the church of God with immortal wonder for ever and ever. When Christ speaks of it, he says, “Father, I pray for them; I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me; for they are thine,” and “that they may be one in us.” This blessed Redeemer, this Person of the Son, takes our nature, and is “God with us.” I believe that our blessed Christ really took soul and body, the whole of humanity. He was “God with us” in his weakness; “God with us” in his conflicts; “God with us” in his victories; “God with us” in his exaltation; “God with us” to strengthen us, to watch over us, to direct us, and to deliver us; completely to save us; to rule over us and in us; to defeat all our foes; to give us exalted views and feelings of God; to raise us to ineffable felicity and glory. “God with us!” And there are thousands more that I cannot name! He has promised to be “our God and our Guide, even unto death.”
I have been struck with that hymn of Hart’s:
“Behold from what beginnings small Our great salvation rose;
The strength of God is owned by all, But who his weakness knows?”
Devils tremble at this moment to hear this. What weakness was this! And let me tell thee, poor child of God, he was made like his people in all their weakness and in all their littleness, that he may come to the help of the weakest child of God in existence.
Observe, further, he was “God with us” in all his solemn concerns. Born in Bethlehem, he was hunted into Egypt that he might find his hunted people, to seek them “out of every nation.” And now, poor child of God, your Jesus has been here before you. The Lord help you to go to this blessed Jesus!
He was “God with us” in his temptations. O what solemn seasons! He was “God with us” in the solemn field of temptation; he was driven into the wilderness of temptation! What a solemn conflict! Here what a battle had to be fought! If Christ had been beaten, the whole world would have been damned. “Do your duty, and God will love you,” is one of the devil’s cradles, in which to rock a hypocrite to sleep. God will bring all his people into such a state that nothing but “God with us” can bring them out. And when they have been brought sweetly to feel this, they sweetly sing, “God with us.” The more we are brought to feel sick of self, and in a famishing condition, the fitter we are for a precious salvation.
Christ was “God with us” in Gethsemane and on the cross. We were there, poor sinners, to spit in his face, to kill him, to despise him and set him at naught. He was a solemn Day’s Man, to stand up between God and us.
He was “God with us” in the solemn mystery of his love. He suffered the vengeance of hell and the vengeance of insulted Justice. The sun went into mourning, the dead were alarmed, earth and hell were all in arms. Poor child of God, poor broken-hearted sinner, it was all for thee. And yet, O how grievous! There are times when we in truth can say:
“I can read each moving line,
And nothing move this heart of mine!”
We can read of the sufferings of Christ, the Son of God, and feel as hardened as a devil; and after our hardness of heart and backsliding, the Lord hides his face: “Ephraim is joined to idols; let him alone.” He goes “like a bullock to the yoke;” and there he is as fast as a thief. He can neither go backward nor forward; and if he goes to the Lord, Satan says, “You must go back again; he will have nothing to do with you; not he, indeed!” What! Has the Lord given him up? If he were to give one up, all heaven would go in mourning and all hell would be illuminated. But it cannot be.
He was “God with us” in his finished work. He gave up the ghost. Bless his holy name, he is “God with us” in applying all these blessings to the soul. Nothing but this will remove guilt from the conscience; nothing but this will do for the poor burdened child of God.
He was “God with us” in his resurrection and ascension. “He died unto sin once; but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.” The Holy Ghost, when further speaking by Paul, stamps a higher glory on his resurrection and ascension: “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died; yea, rather, that is risen again; who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” He died for thy offences, he died for thy sins. Could death have kept him in his cold jaws, there would have been no proof that he was “God with us,”— “God with us” in his glorious resurrection and ascension on his throne: “For Christ is not entered into the holy place made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.”
Now do not you see this, poor child of God? “Blessed are the people that know the joyful sound.” What a shout will that be, when “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality;” when millions “God with us” shall bring, to give one immortal shout of harvest home, and proclaim his honour for ever and ever.
William Gadsby (1773-1844) was a Strict and Particular Baptist preacher, writer and philanthropist.