One of the names given to Christ in Scripture is "Emmanuel." Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin shall be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Emmanuel" (Isaiah 7:14, NIV).
The gospel of Matthew records the precise fulfillment of this prophesy in Matthew 1:22-23. We are told the name Emmanuel means "God with us."
As we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, let us consider the following.
Emmanuel means God is a God of promise. What God promises, he will perform. What he foretells, he will fulfill. The phrase "and it came to pass" tells us God is reliable, trustworthy, and true to his word.
Emmanuel means God has made a major move in our direction by sending his son to us. In the past, God spoke to people through the prophets, but now was sending his son, Emmanuel, to live among the people and place salvation within the reach of every person. No longer do we see "God to man," but we now see "God with man."
Emmanuel means God has come to us in terms with which we can identify. Mankind long wondered what God was like. Jesus said: "if you have seen Me, you have seen the Father" (John 14:9). We come to know what God is like by looking at Jesus. He is an exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus has come to us in terms we can understand - born a baby, grew up as a child, living as an adult, relating to us in every way, yet without sin.
Emmanuel means God, in Christ, is showing us what he wants us to be like. Not only did Jesus show us what God was like, but he modeled for us how God wants us to live. He is our pattern and example. To be like Christ should be the ambition of every Christian. Paul encouraged us to "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13, NIV).
Emmanuel means God himself is paying the penalty for our sins. The supreme purpose for which Christ was born into our world was to die for our sins and rise from the dead, thus ultimately and completely defeating sin and Satan. That which we could not do for ourselves, Christ has accomplished for us.
Emmanuel means God is reminding us that we are never alone. Remember, Emmanuel means "God with us." He is with us through the stress and strain of life; through job losses and financial difficulties; through marriage problems and family turmoil. He is with us through the loss of family and friends to death. He is also with us in the ordinary, everyday events of life. He has promised never to leave us or forsake us.
Celebrate Emmanuel this Christmas. He is the reason for the season. Make the most of this Christmas by making him your Savior, Lord, and centerpiece of your faith. Merry Christ-mas.