God With Us

God With Us December 22, 2014

In reading through Matthew’s account of Jesus’ birth awhile back, I noticed what appeared to be an embarrassing mistake he made inapplying a verse from Isaiah to Jesus’ birth. Here’s the passage:

As Joseph considered these things, behold, an angel ofthe Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do notfear to take Mary as your wife…. She will bear a son, and you shall call hisname Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this tookplace to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, thevirgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his nameImmanuel” (which means, God with us). Mt 1:20-23

Did you seethe mistake? It’s in the names. The angel says, “You shall call his nameJesus”; but Isaiah’s prophecy says, “They shall call his name Immanuel.” So Ipondered and prayed and reread the verses, and then I think I found the answer.It’s in the tiny word “for.” But before I explain how that one word solves theproblem, we need to think for just a moment about the two names themselves.

Matthewdefines the name “Immanuel” right in the verse: “God with us.” The meaning of“Jesus” isn’t quite as explicit, though it is implied. It means “Yahweh saves.”

When theangel told Joseph to name his son “Jesus,” he was giving a name that declaresthe exclusive position of Yahweh as the only Savior of His people. Remarkably,however, the angel follows the child’s name with this statement: “FOR he[Mary’s baby] will save his people from their sins.” In effect, the angel says:“Name your son ‘Yahweh saves,’ because he’s going to save you.” Apparently,this baby is going to do something that previously was done by Yahweh Himself:save His people. The point is unmistakable: this baby must be God!

Thus, whenMatthew recalled from Isaiah 7:14 that the virgin’s baby was called “Immanuel,”he saw the perfect fulfillment in the angel’s announcement to Joseph. Sinceonly God can save His people, and since this baby is going to be named “Yahwehsaves” precisely because he (the baby) will save His people from their sins,this baby must be God. To say that this infant will be our Savior is justanother way of saying that this baby is God with us!