Matthew 1:20-23 – “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). NIV
Have you ever stopped to wonder why Isaiah said that His name would be Immanuel, but He is actually Jesus? When I first came to know the Lord, it was one of those questions I had. Well, you may be in the advanced class and know this already, but I just wanted to share, in case there are those who are still wondering.
In the Bible, names had meanings that represented a message that God was sending, or a calling/ministry on an individual’s life, or a memorial to something that was going on. I think of Ichabod, which means the glory has departed from Israel. So every time someone referred to him, or he heard his name, or thought of his name, he was forever reminded that on the day of his birth, his dad, his uncle, and his grandfather died, and the glory departed from Israel. Poor baby! Another interesting time of naming kids happened when Hosea and Gomer had children. He had a daughter named Lo-Ruhamah, which means “not loved” for God had decided that He would no longer show love to Israel. How messed up would a young lady be with this name today, if she knew that her mother had named her “not loved”? But for the record, God wasn’t saying the daughter was not loved, just that He would no longer show love to Israel.
The name Jesus was a common Hebrew name. (Actually in Hebrew, it is Yeshua, and in the Greek, it is Joshua). When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, to calm his fears in regard to marrying Mary, and to inform him of the unique assignment he and Mary were being given, the Angel told him to name the baby, Jesus. The reason Joseph was to name the baby Jesus was because He, Jesus, would save His people from their sins. Then Matthew informs us that this is in fulfillment of the prophetic word given by Isaiah.
Well, from what Matthew said, we can understand that the virgin conceived. After all, that was the whole point in the angelic visit, to assure Joseph that Mary hadn’t been dishonest with him. She was truly pregnant by Holy Spirit, and had never been touched by a man, in an illicit affair. So this point was made without a doubt, but the name isn’t Immanuel, it is Jesus. We are told that He will save the people from their sins, but not how He is God with us! And yet, he does!
The truth that a virgin conceives is a supernatural occurrence. It is out of the norm. It can’t happen. But it did, because God made it happen. He placed the seed of Himself, into Mary, and when Jesus was born, “God with us” became a reality. Throughout the book, Matthew continues to share through the encounters of the Jews with Jesus that He is no ordinary man, but He is, in fact, God. He heals the sick, He multiplies food, He walks on water, and He expels demons; bringing God into the everyday lives of the people. Not the super religious, not the rich, but the lives of the common man. And so He is God with us!
Matthew ends his book in a way that sums it all up; chapter 28, verse 20 – “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Jesus proclaims to His disciples, and the world, that He is with us always. He, God the Son, is with us! Thus we have the proof, the solidarity of what God said through Isaiah, and what actually happened, that the virgin did conceive and His name is Immanuel. Remember, a name is as much about who we are called, as it is about what we are called to do. So although we call Him Jesus, for He saves us from our sins; we also call Him Immanuel, for He is God with us always!
Back to the name Jesus! It was a common name, but once the Son of God took on this name, it became a holy name, a name above every name, the most powerful name known to man. Demons tremble at that Name, disease disappears at that Name, power is released at that Name. There is no other Name given amongst men, whereby we can be saved, but the Name of Jesus! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! Wonderful Jesus!