‘Tis the season to sing Christmas carols and one name found in many of the most popular carols is “Immanuel” (also spelt Emmanuel – both referring to the same name). We find this name in both the Old and New Testament here:
“Therefore the Lord himself willl give you a sign: The virgin will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”
“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God with us’)”
Although it says in Isaiah 7:14 “and will call him Immanuel,” Mary and Joseph didn’t give their son that name. Instead, they followed the directions given specifically to them in Matthew 1:21 (to Joseph in a dream) and Luke 1:31 (to Mary by the angel Gabriel) to name Him Jesus.
As seen in the verse from Matthew above, the meaning of Immanuel is “God with us.” The promised child was given the name of Jesus (which incidentally means “God saves”) but was also literally Immanuel – God in the flesh among us. God put Himself on display for us to know and understand Him through Jesus becoming Immanuel.
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
At a time when our world desperately needs real hope, this name for Jesus is wonderful news for us. God has not left us to our own devices but has come and made his dwelling with us in the coming of Jesus. Let’s celebrate this today as we remember the birth of Jesus on that very first Christmas morning. Merry Christmas!