Hosting Immanuel

Hosting Immanuel

by Ryan Pflasterer


The birth of Jesus was foretold all throughout the Scriptures.  A prophetic declaration of His coming was announced from the very beginning when God said, “Let there be Light.”  And even after the fall of humanity, that ancient prophecy was whispered again amidst the curse of sin. 

To Eve the Lord says, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.”  And to the Serpent the Lord says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”  Then, some 4,000 years later, the prophecy finds it’s fulfillment.  And we get a glimpse of this magnificent moment through the eyes of a young virgin named Mary. 

An angel visited Mary and told her that she had been chosen to carry the very Presence of God within her womb.  This Presence would be made manifest in the earth though her, and she would call His name Jesus.  “How can this be,” she asks, “since I am a virgin?”  The Lord’s answer to Mary rings true for all who long to host His Presence…

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

Mary responds in faith, declaring herself to be completely yielded to the fulfillment of that ancient prophecy.  “Let it be to me according to your word.”  The Lord was already with Mary.  She was already highly favored of God.  But the Scriptures suggest that it was through this expression of faith that the Holy Spirit came upon her in power.  And that changed everything.

After this encounter Mary arose and went with haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who was also with child.  And when the sound of Mary’s greeting came to Elizabeth’s ears, the baby in her womb leaped for joy and she too was filled with the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit who overshadowed Mary now came upon Elizabeth.  Mary was carrying within her the very Gift of God, given for all humanity.  Mary was hosting His Presence.  And when she walked in the room that Presence came upon Elizabeth too.

What was the result of this divine encounter with the manifest Presence of the Lord?  Joy!  The baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy!  And Elizabeth herself exclaimed with a loud cry—a humble exultation, “Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  And all of this happened in the moment of Mary’s arrival.  A simple greeting became a revelation—a divine revelation of Holy Incarnation. 

This too was a prophetic declaration of His coming.  And it summons us to believe, along with Mary, that there will be a fulfillment of what was spoken to us from the Lord.  For we too must eagerly desire, like Mary, that we might also be filled with the Holy Spirit and overshadowed by the power of the Most High.

And so it was that when the time came, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.  Mary, after hosting His Presence for nine months, could finally behold the very Face of God in Jesus Christ.  And now, even today, His Face will shine upon all who gather around that humble manger.

May we, like Mary, treasure up all these things, pondering them in our heart.  May we, like Mary, be host to the bright shining Presence of Jesus Christ—Immanuel, God with us.

A meditation on the coming of Christ, featuring the song "Immanuel" by Beautiful Eulogy and images from the film "Tree of Life" by Terrence Malick.