Monday, 24 December 2007

Baby Name Confusion

'Tis the night before Christmas, and I thought I'd share about something that used to confuse me.

Did Mary and Joseph give their son, Jesus the wrong name?

In Matthew (the first book of the New Testament) an angel appears to Joseph and tells him
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. (Matt 1:21)
But then Matthew goes on to say
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with Child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us" (Math 1:22-23)

From the time that people decided to go it alone - leave God out of the picture - He planned to restore the relationship between Himself and humans. All through the Old Testament (even in Genesis) God gave hints or glimpses at the person who would bring peace, between rebellious people and a holy God. In Isaiah, this person is given the name Immanuel.

So did someone make a mistake? Was it Isaiah, the prophet of verses 22 & 23? Was it the angel? Did Joseph mis-hear (a case of Chinese whispers) ? Was it Matthew writing it down wrong? What name is the Son of God meant to have ... Jesus or Immanuel??????

The answer lies in the meanings of the names. The name Jesus means God saves. The name Immanuel means God with us.

So God's saviour has both these names. It is through God, dwelling amongst us, and being with us, that he saves. This concept is HUGE, and gives me big goofy grins whenever I think on it. Here's the really amazing part ... God is holy, and as such, can't be at peace (ie not at 'war') with people who reject him, but because God is with us (Immanuel), now when he looks at us He sees Jesus (and so God saves). When we fast forward to Easter, we see God with us in Jesus dying on the cross - he took all our rebellion on his own head - and so God saves. And fast forward even further, to when Jesus returns (the Second Coming), and there we have an amazing picture of God dwelling with his saved people.

So have you accepted that Jesus is Immanuel?

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