We’re exploring Jesus’ identity as God. It makes sense of all the other characteristics we’ve studied in this series.
The prophet Isaiah spoke these words for God 500 years before Jesus’ birth:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14-15 ESV)
Immanuel means God with us. Two Hebrew words: Immanu which means “with us” and “el” which means God.
See the hints here? He’d be born of a virgin. Both things would normally be impossible, but this was how it would happen according to a prophet 500 years before Jesus.
500 years after those words were written, Matthew tells the story of Jesus’ birth, and you’ll hear echoes of that Isaiah prophecy:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:18-25 ESV)
Matthew wants it to be really clear who Jesus is. He explicitly references a prophet predicted this – when the Bible’s writers don’t usually give explicit references like that. He explains the meaning of the word Immanuel, to be sure everyone knows what it means. He takes no chances.
He’s highlighting the divine intervention in this story. This man, Jesus, is no ordinary man. Joseph is not called his father, the Holy Spirit is. Nevertheless, Joseph was willing to sacrifice his standing in the community, his legal right to divorce a fiancé who’d apparently been unfaithful, and much more.
Mary was a virgin, yet had a baby. No, this is not meant to be explained scientifically. Matthew is not naively trying to tell us how childbirth normally works, he’s telling us how it worked in one incredible, unique and unrepeated case to prove a point: God has come to earth! God is with US!
This is where we need to be careful of language. God is three persons – God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. They are all one God., and have been forever.
God the Son took on human flesh, and when he did, he took on the name Jesus of Nazareth. He was recognized as the Messiah, or Christ, the rescuer that Israel had long anticipated. So they called him Jesus Christ.
This is how we can say Jesus was Emmanuel, God with us. He is God, God the Son to be exact, and he was in constant relationship with God the Father, to whom he prayed, and God the Holy Spirit, by whom he was conceived, protected, guided, and whom he left to carry on his presence and work in the world.
Question: What do you find more incredible? The virgin birth, the idea that God is with us, the angel, or something else?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]