Christmas is a celebration of the arrival a baby who is the Son of God and the Savior of the world, Jesus. In announcing the upcoming birth of Jesus, one of the things the angel says is this: “[Mary] will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel (meaning, God with us)” (Matthew 1:23b).
Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. What does this mean? The word “with” can hold different meanings, including in the context of being a coach. Perhaps you’ve had the experience of an administrator who says, “I’m with you” – but you’re wondering whether they’ll still be “with you” if you’re no longer winning as many games as they’d like. Or maybe you have family members and friends who genuinely mean it when they say, “I’m with you.” They’re in the stands for every game. They’re “with you” as genuine supporters, but they don’t actually participate in all that’s required to carry out your coaching goals and responsibilities.
There’s a third category of “with”: someone who is by your side and assisting you every moment of every practice, every game, every film session, every meeting, every post-game whether after a win or a loss, every off-season conditioning session… This is someone who is “with you” in the fullest sense, immersed in every aspect of what you do as a coach.
This third category is closest to what it means that Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. John, referring to Jesus as “the Word” (meaning, God’s ultimate self-expression), gives another picture of Jesus as Immanuel in John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In Jesus, God has come to us and made his dwelling among us. Jesus has come to be “God with us” in the fullest sense, immersed in every aspect of our lives. In Jesus, God draws near to us so that we can draw near to him. While Jesus is no longer physically walking the earth, he sends his Spirit to us when we put our faith in him. Through his Spirit, Jesus is present with us at all times and in every situation.
What does this mean for you as a coach? Here are three implications of the truth that Jesus is Immanuel:
- You are never on your own as a coach. Coaching can feel lonely at times. Because Jesus promises that he is with you always (Matt. 28:20), rest in the assurance that you are never alone – even in the toughest coaching moments. Lean into his presence and strength.
- When it seems like others don’t get what it’s like to be a coach, you can be sure that Jesus understands. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that Jesus, as one who was fully human, understands the weaknesses you experience and the temptations you face. He knows what it’s like to be in your shoes. Because of this, you can confidently turn to him to “receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16), including the needs you have as a coach.
- You bring Jesus with you into every situation, giving others a chance to know him. Because Jesus is God with us, God “through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of [Christ]” (2 Cor. 2:14b). In every situation you’re in as a coach, you can point others to Christ through your words and actions, showing them who he is and what he’s like. God can use you to spread the “fragrance of Jesus” through your coaching.
Coach, be encouraged this Christmas season! Jesus whose birth we celebrate is Immanuel, God with us. In Jesus, God is with you!