And You Shall Call His Name Immanuel, Not!

Matthew 1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ”

Now, that’s a familiar verse, isn’t it? We hear it every Christmas. We read it with every reading of Matthew’s Gospel. Yet, have we ever really stopped and really listened to what it is saying to us? Matthew 1:23 “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’ ”

Matthew is calling upon the prophet Isaiah here regarding a particular Messianic Prophesy, which simply means a prophecy about the Messiah or about Jesus. This particular prophecy was written by Isaiah in the book that bears his name Isaiah 7:14 All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Now let’s see if I’m straight on this point. The sign that God was going to give Israel that the Messiah was born was that he would be born of a virgin and then that he would be named Immanuel, right?

The first part has to be the tricky one.  That the virgin would conceive a child, which means she will be pregnant. Now, in High School, Biology was not one of my strongest subjects; as a matter of fact, in High School, my only strong subjects were study hall and lunch.

Somehow, though, I’m still under the impression that a virgin conceiving a child is not the way it happens; you know it’s not in the right order. And yet I’m sure that you’ll remember in Luke 1:30–31, “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “For you have found favour with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.

In the same chapter, Mary presents a small problem, which she mentions to the angels in Luke 1:34. Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

Do you remember what the angel said, and I quote, “Not a problem?” If he had of been an Australian Angel, he would have said, “No worries, she’ll be Jake.”

Actually, that isn’t what he said; what he said is found in verse Luke 1:35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.

So that takes care of the first part of the prophecy, the virgin birth, we just need to believe that it’s a God thing.

The part that I thought would have been the most difficult. But hey if God can make the natural laws that say that virgins don’t conceive then God can overrule those laws, right?

The second part of the prophecy should be more easily dealt with, it was and they will call him Immanuel.

Now, that is no sweat; I mean, you’ve have a prophesy concerning naming a child, right? So, all you gotta do to fulfil that prophesy is to name the kid what the prophesy says you’re going to name the kid, right?

Right. I mean, you don’t have to be an Einstein to figure that one out, do you? I mean, a preacher could figure that out. It’s not rocket surgery.

OK, so how come I never read about “Immanuel the Son of God” in my New Testament? And why does nobody ever call him “Immanuel, the carpenter’s son?”

How come you never hear about “The Immanuel Movie,” and how come Andrew Lloyd Weber didn’t write “Immanuel Super Star”? How come? Inquiring minds want to know.

Because He wasn’t called Immanuel, he was called Jesus, or, more correctly, because He was Jewish and his parents spoke Hebrew, they called him, E-A-Soose.

Well, then, maybe Immanuel was his middle name. Now I can appreciate that because I think that parents give their kids their middle name out of revenge.

My grandfather’s middle name was Theophilus; he was named after his father.

My middle name is Vance, and as an adult, I don’t think that is too bad, although I normally just use v; I mean, my folks really weren’t thinking when they gave a kid with a lisp a middle name with a c in it.

I heard two Jr. High girls talking, and one asked, “Do you like your name?” The other replied, “No, I hate my name,” and the first girl said, “Yeah, I hate mine too.”

I think it’s a fact of life that most of us hate our name at some point in our lives, probably because of the way our parents abuse it, “Dennison Vance, you get in here right now. You have some explaining to do.” So maybe His name was Jesus Immanuel, Immanuel Jesus, and He just went by Jesus.

Or maybe His name was Immanuel, and everybody called him Jesus.

After all you never hear anyone call Prince Harry, Henry.  But that’s his name, actually his name is Henry Charles Albert David, not a Harry in the bunch.

When I was on the tugboats as a teenager I had a Captain named Gerry, well actually his name was Rudolph but everyone called him Gerry, I wonder why?

And I had a second cousin; she was actually my first cousin once removed, if you want to get picky, who was named after my great-grandfather; you remember him. His name was Theophilus, except she was a girl, so they named her Theo, but everyone called her Teddy.

But to tell the truth, I don’t think Jesus was ever named Immanuel; I don’t think he was ever called Immanuel or even Manny by his family and friends. I don’t even think that Immanuel was even a consideration, ever, and I don’t think that Mary and Joseph fought over whether to call him Jesus or Immanuel. And yet, even though His name was never called Immanuel, I truly believe that He fulfilled the prophesy because His name was called Immanuel.

“There you go again Denn talking in circles. I always knew your true calling was in politics. No, honest, trust me on this one, darn, I sounded like a politician again. It makes sense. We just have to follow it through.

You see, even though the prophecy wasn’t fulfilled on the birth certificate, Jesus wasn’t legally called Immanuel; the prophecy was fulfilled in His life because even though he was never named Immanuel, His life and ministry reflected the translation, “God with us.”

And I don’t necessarily think that it simply means “The Son with us. What Christ achieved was to allow mankind to come to a place of harmony with the Trinity as a whole: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

And so, as a result of Christmas, as a result of this teenage Virgin conceiving a child who came to be with us?

1) God, the Father is With Us. We really need to start at the beginning because the beginning is always the best place to start. And so we discover way back in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, that Moses wrote in Genesis 1:27 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

In the master plan that God laid down for the world and humanity, humanity was created to be in harmony with the creator. We were created to be in fellowship with God Himself. And one of the most precious gifts that could be offered was given to us, and that was our free will.

Humanity would be free to choose their own destiny. God laid out all of the options for the first couple with all the rewards and consequences spelled out. You do this, this and this and this will happen, but if you do that, that and that, then these are the consequences.

Chapter three of the book of Genesis records the fall of humanity. How when offered the choice, they chose to rebel against God, and how that choice that Adam and Eve made at the dawn of history has affected mankind’s relationship with God from that moment on.

The theologians call it original sin or inherent depravity. Now, we all inherit things from our folks, right?

My father loved the bumper sticker that says, “We’re spending our children’s inheritance,” so I’ve probably got all I’m going to get. But I inherited something else, and I got it from both Mom and Dad.

It came via the Scottish and Estonian on Mom’s side of the family and through the Welsh and native Canadian on my father’s side, and that is my leaning toward sin, toward rebellion and toward disobedience.

And we all have it. We were born with it. I’ve said it before: that is why you have to teach your kids to say please and thank you and to be polite, but you don’t have to teach them how to say no, or won’t or can’t or how to be rude or how to throw a temper tantrum, and that my friends is original sin or inherent depravity.

We were originally created to be friends with God and yet sin drove a wedge into the relationship. Isaiah 59:2 It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.

That is reiterated in the book of Micah 3:4 Then you beg the Lord for help in times of trouble! Do you really expect him to answer? After all the evil you have done, he won’t even look at you!”

Sin has separated us from a Holy God. In the history of Israel, God was approached through an intermediary, and that was the High Priest; people didn’t have a relationship with God. He was a remote and distant figure.

And that doesn’t sound like “God with us.” And into the void came Christ, who died on the cross and spilt his blood for our sins in order to bring us back into fellowship with God. John the apostle wrote in His first letter in the book of 1 John 2:2 He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

Further along, In the same letter, we read in 1 John 4:10 This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.

And so, because of that sacrifice that Christ has made for us, once we have repented of our sins, that simply means telling God that we are sorry for disobeying him and turning away from those actions, and accepting the forgiveness that Christ offers us then he becomes Immanuel, God with us, not by name but by character.

2. God, the Son is With Us.

When Jesus Christ appeared on this earth, born of a virgin, conceived of the Holy Spirit, he became, by definition, Immanuel, God with us.

Now, you can either choose to believe in Christ, or you can choose not believe in Him; those are the two options you get. King David wrote in Psalm 14:1 Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”

I’m sure that we wouldn’t do any disservice to the text if we read Psalm 14:1 Only fools say in their hearts, “There is no Jesus.”

Now, you may want to believe that there is no Christ; you may have convinced yourself that there is no Christ, but history authenticates His existence.

Historical evidence, both inside and outside of the Scriptures, confirms that there was a man named Jesus who came from the town of Nazareth, ministered and taught in Palestine, and was crucified by the Romans.

To deny His existence would be the equivalent of denying the existence of Caesar, Charlemagne, Alexander the Great or Napoleon. And so, we must accept the existence of Christ. But who was He? A good teacher? A great moral man? A religious leader? A prophet?

C.S Lewis wrote in “Mere Christianity,” “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” This is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on a level with a man who says He’s a poached egg, or else He would be the devil of Hell. You must make the choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a Madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

For the thirty-three years that Jesus walked this earth, He was very much in a physical sense, Immanuel, God with us.

3. God, the Holy Spirit is With Us Christ tells the disciples in John 14:16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.

Christ clarifies this in Vs. 26 of the same chapter when he says, John 14:26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

One of my favourite passages in the Scripture is the continuation of this promise, and it’s found in Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.

In John Chapter 16, Jesus has told His disciples that He is returning to the Father, and He senses that they are not entirely thrilled with this prospect, and so He tells them in John 16:6–7. Instead, you grieve because of what I’ve told you.  But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you.

When Jesus left this earth, He filled the void with the third person of the Trinity, and that is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is probably the most neglected person of the Trinity, and yet today, in our everyday life, He is the most important to the believer because today, Christmas Eve 2023, Jesus Christ has made provision for the Spirit to walk side by side with you.

Jesus might be your Saviour, but it is the Holy Spirit who was sent to be your helper on a daily basis. And somehow, we forget that. I think it’s a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water; because some groups of believers really focus on the Spirit. We swing too far to the other extreme.

I sure hope that isn’t what Christ meant by grieving the Holy Spirit when we, at best, ignore Him and, at worst, relegate him to the back corner of the Trinity like some distant cousin. Because in a very real way today, it is the Spirit who is Immanuel, or God, with us.

Is God with you? The provisions were made with the birth of Christ, for your relationship to be restored with the Father, for your relationship to be reaffirmed with the Son and for your relationship to be confirmed with the Spirit.


One thought on “You Shall Call His Name Immanuel. . . Not!

  1. Well spoken, pleasing to read TRUTH with great understanding of the Word of GOD and wisdom .it is GOOD, peace upon Us with Eyes that can See and Ears that Hear, “my my what a blessing” thank you..

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