“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel”
What kind of sign gets your attention? Maybe it’s a sign that there are speed cameras on that stretch of road, or perhaps it’s a Sale sign that catches your eye as you walk round the shops looking for presents. Signs are designed to draw our attention to something important.
God, in exasperation with his wayward people tells them to look for a sign- a sign that his rescue package was on the way. And yet it wasn’t the most eye-catching sign. I mean young women get pregnant all the time! What was so different about this one?
Well apart from the fact that she was a virgin- not immediately apparent to the casual on-looker- it was her baby that was important; Immanuel- God with us. This baby, and the nature of his conception were a sign of something so miraculous that two thousand years on we are still struggling to comprehend it. God, the perfect, holy maker of the universe, chose to be with us, not just by standing near us, but, by entering into our existence himself. ‘God with us’ is not a condescending bystander, but a totally loving presence inside of humanity itself. God chooses to be one of us, see us from the inside, feel our hurts, pains, frailties and limitations.
This is God with us- a God who loves us so much that he takes the unbelievable risk of being just like us. Just like us except…that he is the only one who inhabited that human frame as it should always have been. He didn’t just come to be with us- he came to show us how to be ourselves! Immanuel was a sign that God loved us and hadn’t given up on us, but he was also a sign pointing to what we can be!