Jesus is Immanuel (7)

Understanding:

 Jesus as the Immanuel was the revelation of the heart of God in order to draw all men unto the gospel.

Following the third century, one of the great theological misunderstandings concerning the function of Jesus was that He ascended so far away from the Christian that another intermediary was necessary in order to make contact with Him. Misguided theologians subsequently made Mary, the mother of Jesus, the new intercessor on behalf of the saints. Some recent exaltations of Mary are “that the Virgin [Mary] intercedes for us in heaven and that her intercession is so universal that every grace passes through her hands” (Paul H. Hallet, What is a Catholic, p. 77). Since Mary is supposed to intercede on behalf of the saints, we “may also pray to the Blessed Virgin …” (William J. Cogan, A Catechism for Adults, p 16).

But the preceding is not what is taught concerning the relationship that Jesus now has with His people. The preceding teaching was indirectly making its way into the thinking of the disciples even by the time the book of Hebrews was written.   The substitute for Jesus was not Mary.   Some Christians, however, were reverting to the intermediary function of the Levitical priesthood. For this reason, the Hebrew writer made the following reassuring statement concerning the relationship that Jesus, as “God with us,” was with all His disciples: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all things tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hb 4:15).

Because we personally have a high priest who shows empathy toward us, the Hebrew writer wanted to embolden us to approach unto the throne of grace directly through Jesus: “Therefore, let us come boldly to the throne of grace, so that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hb 4:16). We have direct access to Jesus because He partook of the same environment of temptation in which we live. He was “tempted as we are,” and thus, He understands our predicament in this world.   Add to this the encouragement of Paul, For through Him [Jesus] we both have access by one Spirit to the Father (Ep 2:18).

On earth, Jesus was personally with His disciples in order that God have a personal relationship with His people.   Because He personally in the body ascended out of their presence (At 1:11), this does not mean that He discontinued His relationship with His disciples. He is not personally with us at this time in bodily form, but we are assured that He will be personally with us in bodily form when He comes again (At 1:11; 1 Jn 3:2). It is for the restoration of his personal relationship that we yearn.

The prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 was that the Immanuel (“God with us”) would be comforting to those who accepted Him as the Savior of the world. Any theology that would teach that Jesus is distant from us is an attack against the very purpose for which God intended the incarnational Son of God would be in His relationship with us. When Jesus ascended to the right hand of God, He went away bodily, but not in presence spiritually. He only assumed another function of being that would draw us closer to the Father by drawing us closer to Him. He understands our predicament of life because He continually relates to our suffering, though He is not personally with us at this time as He was with the early disciples.

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