In his account of Jesus’ birth, Matthew cites a prophecy assuring Judah of her victory over Israel and Aram. Immanuel is also a sign of the Lord’s judgment. When God comes near, He comes to bless and to curse, to save and to condemn, for deliverance and for judgment.
The Lord’s table is the table of Immanuel, where God-with-us is with-us. That means that this meal can bring judgment and cursing to those who come without faith, hope, and love. “Many are sick and some have fallen asleep,” Paul says of those who divide the body of Christ.
But for those who hope in God, Immanuel is a sign of deliverance. God is with Judah as a dread warrior, as a mighty Protector, as a conquering Hero. To say “God with us” is also to say “Jesus,” which means “Savior” and “Rescuer” and “Victor.”
God-with-us is all we need. If God is with us, who can stand against us? If God is with us, who can accuse us, and make those accusations stick? If God is with us, we have no need to fear, for if He is with us, He will be victorious.
When we trust Him, this table is the table of Immanuel, an assurance that God is with us as the Victor over our sins. At this table, we drink the blood of the covenant, shed for the forgiveness of sins. Through this table we are fed and strengthened to fight our own sin and the injustice of the world. At this table, we celebrate a victory feast.
We have all these blessings at this table because this is the table of Immanuel. We have all these blessings because God-with-us is with-us here.
Peter J. Leithart is President of Theopolis.