A Christmas devotional (Advent 6): Messiah, Immanuel, Jesus

Painting by Leo Boucher.

Painting by Leo Boucher.

“…and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus (Matthew 1:23b–25).

What’s in a name? In biblical times, a name would often connote characteristics that the parents believed the child would embody. Along these lines, God through his angel told Joseph to name his son Jesus, which means “Yahweh saves,” and as we saw recently, what Jesus saves his people from is their sins. I don’t think Joseph had any idea of how Jesus would do this, but he welcomed it from a distance.

Matthew’s account gives Jesus two other names or titles – Messiah and Immanuel. Messiah is the Hebrew word for one anointed for a specific task (with Christ being the Greek rendering of this word). Matthew uses this term to signal to his Jewish audience that this is the coming Savior, for whom they have been waiting for generations to bring about God’s promised deliverance.

And Immanuel means God with us – God himself has taken human form in Jesus. God is with us because Jesus saves us from our sins, for sin is what separates us from God. Once Jesus rescues us from this fallen state, we enjoy Immanuel, God with us.

Jesus the anointed one. Jesus who saves. Jesus, God with us. What’s in a name? Simply, the whole gospel message.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we welcome you this Christmas day! You are the anointed one, the God who lives with us, the one who saves. As we praise and worship you this day, fill us with your presence and your love. And help us to reach out to a world aching to hear your message of good news.

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