There is something profound about shared experience. This is one reason why successful marriages have so much emotional or spiritual depth. Husband and wife are shaped in the crucible of shared moments – both good and bad. It’s why soldiers bond. When a band of brothers (or sisters) have experienced together the horrors of war, or the elations of victory, they can’t help but to be welded to one another. When two people who have never met suddenly realize that they share a common history with common elements, they often become fast friends. It is far easier for one person to be counseled by another person if the counseling person shares something in his or her history with the person being counseled. People respond well to empathy because they believe the person who has it can feel their hurts.
It is partly because of this that the angel told Mary, the mother of Jesus, that her son would be called Immanuel (Matthew 1:23). The name means “God with us.” When Jesus took on a life of flesh and blood, he took on a life of temptation, and pain, and shared experience. He maintained his Godness, but also took on humanness (Hebrews 4:15 NIV). He can relate to us. But more importantly, we can see him as our living, breathing, and walking example (1 Peter 2:21-25).
But God with us is so much more than us being able to relate to him. It is also about him fighting our battles. Consider how many times the phrase, “God with us,” or any of its variations occur within the context of God seizing victory or protection for his children (Joshua 1:9, Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20, Psalm 23:4, just to name a few).
God is with us so that we can have relationship with him, and he is with us so that we can feel secure that our victory will be won.