“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 1:23.

In the first chapter of his gospel, Matthew introduces his readers to Jesus’s earthly parents. His mother Mary and more specifically his adoptive father Joseph. In discovering the pregnancy of his soon to be wife, Joseph made plans to discreetly divorce Mary.  His plan is quickly changed when an angel visits him. The angel of the Lord comes to Joseph and says, “…do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew1:20-21) announcing that the child growing in Mary’s womb was conceived by the Holy Spirit and that she will bear a son. The angel then gives Joseph specific instructions to name the child Jesus. In naming the child Jesus, and speaking of the forgiveness of sin, the angel is making known to Joseph that the child in Mary’s womb is the long awaited Messiah, through whom God will bring reconciliation and redemption to his people. 

At the end of Matthew’s account of the angel’s visit to Joseph, he refers to an Old Testament promise given to the people through the prophet Isaiah. “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’).” (Isaiah 7:14).

The essence of this passage and event in history is not merely that a baby was born. The essence is that God became a baby. God was in the crib. This child will be called Immanuel, which means “God is with us.” The indescribable and sovereign God of the universe is among us. 

Jesus came to do the Father’s will, but He came to represent God, the Father, so that we would know what it is like to have God with us, as the name Immanuel defines. Colossians 1:15 says, “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” And in John, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. …. So the Word became human and made his home among us. …. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us..” (John 1:1, 14, 18)

Our amazing God has decided to live with us and within us. Where would we be if not for the vibrant, life-giving and abundant life of Jesus Christ within? 

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was the significance of the messianic title “Immanuel”? How should the truth that “God is with us” encourage you?