Monday, December 26, 2011

What's in a Name

This morning after Christmas, I feel a bit like my preschoolers when their Uncle Johnathan comes home after months of anticipating his arrival, all of my little ones running around shouting, "He's here! He's here!"

For many of you, the excitement is over, maybe even exhaustion has set in, or perhaps even a bit of depression from the sudden drop in adrenaline and things to "do." Wrapping paper is crumpled in the trash, delectable treats all (hopefully) consumed, hidden surprises all revealed. For some, it's all over.

And yet, today should be more exciting than even yesterday. Christ's journey has only just begun. He's here! Christ. God with us.

That name--Emmanuel. God with Us. It's still important this side of the nativity...this side of the cross.

Mary and Joseph didn’t have a problem with choosing a name for their little babe in the feed trough. The angel had told them up front what the baby’s name would be: “and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us’” (Matt 1:23).

The meaning of Jesus’ name was and is important because His very character was inscribed in His name. His name meant that as the second part of the trinity, He had left His heavenly home to physically come to earth and dwell among us in the flesh. He was 100% God. And yet He was also 100% human.

But why is this such a big deal? And for that matter, why did we need God to dwell with us anyway?

First, the fact that a sinless, holy God would see fit to dwell among sinful humanity blows my mind each time I think about it. There are many days when I want to cut myself totally off from the sin I see being so openly and guiltlessly flaunted in our society…and I’m a sinner, myself. But Jesus who was perfect chose to dwell here. That is incomprehensible.

As the disciple John said, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:1,14).

Secondly, God needed to dwell with us if we were ever going to be reconciled to God. His coming to earth and, ultimately, giving His life on the cross, bridged the gap between man and God the Father, whose relationship had been severed by an endless ocean of sin. Paul writes, “Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corr. 5:18-19).

Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesied His coming much earlier: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Mary and Joseph couldn’t have possibly known all that their son’s name would mean for them and for all mankind. But through Scripture, we can understand more of how God is with us even still—the Holy Spirit that resides within us, Jesus who makes intercession for us with the Father...


God is with us as our counselor in times where life’s circumstances leave us questioning our next step.

God is with us as Prince of Peace when anxiety, uncertainty, or depression threatens to drown us.

God is wish us as mighty, everlasting king of all creation who will come again soon to reclaim His earthly throne.

This post-Christmas season, don't forget that Christmas is not over. It's only just begun. Even without the tinsel and holly, we must remember to continue giving thanks to God for His son, Jesus.

Immanuel. God’s word made flesh for you, for me.

1 comment:

  1. This name for our Lord has played around in my head all season. Comfort and encouragement from "God with us" has blessed me during this season. For me as well I can't think of Jesus first coming without anticipating His second. "Christmas is not's only just begun." So thankful for that fact.