“‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” (Matthew 1:23, NIV)
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, was a tireless servant of God. During his world-changing ministry in England, he planted churches, established orphanages, opposed slavery, authored books, and trained and ordained pastors. Some estimate that he preached more than forty thousand sermons. Wesley died on Wednesday, March 2, 1791, at the age of eighty-eight. As his life slowly ebbed away, his friends gathered around him, Wesley grasped their hands and said repeatedly, “Farewell, farewell.” At the end, summoning all his remaining strength, he cried out, “The best of all is, God is with us.” He then lifted his arms and raised his feeble voice again, repeating the words, “The best of all, God is with us.” These final words summarize the secret of his far-reaching impact and can energize our lives as well if we appropriate their reality.
In the fullest sense, Jesus, who is called “Immanuel” in fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, is “God with us.” He is and always will be God in human flesh. He became one of us and is always for us and with us. Matthew opens his Gospel by reminding us that Jesus is “God with us” and closes with the reassuring words of Jesus, “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He is with you when you face temptation, when you’re assaulted by doubts and discouragement, when you feel alone and forsaken, when life takes you where you don’t want to be, and even when you face death. This Christmas, and always, remember, “The best of all, God is with us!”