“…the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel”
At the very heart of the Christmas story is the name Immanuel. Immanuel, a beautiful name that is so much more than just a name. Immanuel…which reveals to us God’s heart for humanity, for each one of us individually, and for His kingdom in which Christ will reign for eternity.
700 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Isaiah announced a miraculous prophecy. The birth of Christ through the Virgin Mary would be a wonderful sign of God’s grace, mercy, power, and incredible love.
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us)”
The book of Matthew records the glorious birth of Jesus by quoting Isaiah, and it adds the Hebrew translation, “God with us”. When Adam and Eve first walked in the Garden of Eden, God was with them. Imagine a God that walks among His creation and talks with them, desiring to allow them to spend time in a lovely garden in His presence. Their incredible relationship with God is, sadly, shattered; they are separated from Him by their transgression and there is nothing they can do to restore the relationship.
Thankfully, God has a greater plan. Just like Adam and Eve, each one of us has followed our own way instead of His there is nothing we can do to draw close to God on our own. From the moment Eve crunched into the apple, Jesus’ death on the cross became a necessity to bridge the gap into His holiness so that we could be forgiven of our sins through His blood shed on the cross.
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God’”
You see, Immanuel is so much more than a name! It is a title, it is symbolic of the reason Jesus was born. He came to walk among us – fully God and fully man – to be with us. To teach us to pray, to live, to forgive…not to show us the way, but to BE the way for us to enjoy the fullness of the presence of God and restore an intimate relationship with Him. He gives us power when we feel weak, hope when we feel helpless, peace in every circumstance, courage instead of fear, security when we worry or feel anxious, love when we feel worthless or alone, and abundant life instead of death. He guides us and protects us…He takes away our darkness and gives us light.
Jesus – whose name in Hebrew means “God is salvation” was a baby born to die. A beautiful child, born of an innocent virgin who would forever change history and humanity. In fact, even the way we record time is impacted by the birth of Jesus. The term BC in the Gregorian calendar stands for “before Christ” and AD, which stands for “anno Domini”, is a Latin phrase that means “in the year of the Lord”. Many people believe that AD means “after death” which would seem logical if BC is “before Christ”. Yet, from what we can deduce from Scripture, Christ died in his early thirties, so this meaning for the abbreviation would leave a large gap. AD celebrates the birth of Jesus. It reminds us each day that He is Immanuel, God with us. The birth of Jesus was a truly amazing and miraculous event which has the power to transform not just our lives but our eternity.
Written by Diane Prieur for Saar Fellowship