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Dec23TueThe Word became flesh and dwelt among us. December 23, 2014 by Commissioner Susan McMillan
One of the duties and privileges of a father in New Testament times was to name his newborn son. He wanted to choose a name that would be consistent with his expectations for the child—hoping that he would grow up to reflect the name that had been given.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
In the first chapter of Matthew, God sends an angel to speak to Joseph about the upcoming birth of Jesus. Not only is Joseph to forfeit his right to divorce Mary because of her unexpected pregnancy, but he is also told what to name the baby: “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 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' ” (Matthew 1:20-21).
Matthew then quotes from the prophet Isaiah: “ 'The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' (which means 'God with us')” (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14).
The name Jesus means “the Lord saves us,” and Immanuel, as Matthew explains, means “God with us.” In order to save us, Jesus came as a man to share in our lives so that we could know him. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
The people of Israel expected a conquering Messiah, who would liberate them from their enemies and make Israel the ruling nation. God sent a living, breathing Messiah, who lived among us and can understand our needs and challenges.
But he is God, and we must never forget that. “He left his Father's throne above” because he loved us so much (see SASB 283). He left behind his position as the Son of God and in humility became one of us: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a human being, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).
What an amazing thing, that the God who created the universe would deign to live as a human being.
And yet there's more. He promised to be with us always, not just in New Testament days when he walked the dusty highways of the Holy Land. He promised to be with us through his Holy Spirit, every day, and everywhere.
Matthew records for us the words spoken by Christ to his disciples just before he ascended into heaven: “ 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age' ” (Matthew 28:18-20). The King James Version is perhaps more poetic in saying: “ … lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
So at this Christmastime when we sing the familiar carols that talk about Jesus, Immanuel, let us rejoice in the fact that the Son of God came down to earth to save us from our sins and that he continues to be with us by his Holy Spirit.