Question: "What does it mean that Jesus is God with us?"
Answer: Before the birth of Jesus, an angel appeared to Joseph and revealed that his fiancée, Mary, had conceived a child through the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20–21). Mary would give birth to a Son, and they were to name Him Jesus. Then Matthew, quoting from Isaiah 7:14, provided this inspired revelation: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’)” (Matthew 1:22–23).
Seven hundred years earlier, the prophet Isaiah foresaw the virgin birth of the promised Messiah. He prophesied that His name would be Immanuel, which means “God with us.” By referencing the words of Isaiah, Matthew recognized Jesus as Immanuel. The name Immanuel expresses the miracle of the Incarnation: Jesus is God with us! God had been with His people always—in the pillar of cloud above the tabernacle, in the voice of the prophets, in the ark of the covenant—but never was God so clearly present with His people as He was through His virgin-born Son, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel.
In the Old Testament, the presence of God with His people was most evident when His glory filled the tabernacle (Exodus 25:8; 40:34–35) and the temple (1 Kings 8:10–11). But that glory was far surpassed by the personal presence of God the Son, God become flesh, God with us in person.
Perhaps the most significant passage in the Bible on the Incarnation of Jesus is John 1:1–14. John states that “the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning” (verses 1–2, CSB). John uses the term logos, or “the Word,” as a clear reference to God. John declares in verse 14, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (CSB).
On the night of His arrest, Jesus was teaching His disciples. Philip had a request: “Lord, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” It was a perfectly natural yearning. But Jesus replied, “Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:8–9, BSB). Jesus had been showing them the Father all along. He was truly “God with us.” Whenever Jesus spoke, He spoke the Father’s words. Whatever Jesus did, He did exactly as the Father would do.
God took upon Himself human flesh and blood (1 Timothy 3:16). This is the meaning of incarnation. The Son of God literally “tabernacled” among us as one of us; He “set up His tent” in our camp (John 1:14). God showed us His glory and offered us His grace and truth. Under the Old Covenant, the tabernacle represented the presence of God, but now, under the New Covenant, Jesus Christ is God with us. He is not merely a symbol of God with us; Jesus is God with us in person. Jesus is not a partial revelation of God; He is God with us in all His fullness: “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body” (Colossians 2:9, NLT).
God makes Himself fully known to us through Jesus Christ. He reveals Himself as our Redeemer (1 Peter 1:18–19). Jesus is God with us as Reconciler. Once we were separated from God through sin (Isaiah 59:2), but when Jesus Christ came, He brought God to us: “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them” (2 Corinthians 5:19, NLT; see also Romans 8:3).
Jesus is not only God with us but also God in us. God comes to live in us through Jesus Christ when we are born again: “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, NLT). The Spirit of God lives in us, and we are His dwelling place: “For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: ‘I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people’” (2 Corinthians 6:16, NLT).
Jesus is not God with us temporarily, but eternally. God the Son, never ceasing for a moment to be divine, took on a fully human nature and became ‘God with us’ forever: “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NLT; see also Hebrews 13:5).
When it was time for Jesus to return to the Father, He told His disciples, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16, ESV). Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, who would continue to bring the presence of God to dwell in the lives of believers. The Holy Spirit carries on the role of Jesus as teacher, revealer of truth, encourager, comforter, intercessor, and God with us.