Names are so important! Parents agonise over what to call their newborn infant. Should he or she carry on the family tradition for a name; or bear the name of a loved relative or friend; or reflect the parents’ hopes and aspirations?
When Jesus was born, 2000 years ago, all these considerations were set aside. His name ‘Jesus’, given by God through his angel, was chosen with the one aim of highlighting his unique work of saving his people from their sins.
But Jesus has another name — Immanuel. This Christmas, let’s consider carefully this wonderful name and its meaning.
First of all, think about its amazing nature. ‘Immanuel’ means ‘God with us’. That little word ‘with’can easily be overlooked. It doesn’t mean that God was with us on a short and casual visit to earth, soon to resume normal activity once it was over. No! ‘With’here means a permanent unionbetween God and man.
At Jesus’ conception, God joined his Godhead permanentlyto manhood. Jesus, our Immanuel, is uniquely God and man in one person for ever — a mystery, yet so true.
The importance of that ‘with us’ can also be seen from the enormity of the task Immanuel was committed to undertake. The greatest problem with our world is the long war againstGod that started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve’s sin. All our problems stem from that broken relationship between God and man.
Our greed, selfishness, pride and innumerable sins are nothing less than rebelling against God, sinning against his holy laws. Even godly King David, in the Old Testament, had to confess, ‘Against you, you only have I sinned and done this evil in your sight’ (Psalm 51:4).
When a business management and its workforce fall out in their industrial relations, they look for someone to act as mediator — someone who can talk to both sides and help broker an agreement and restore peace.
When the gulf between the sides is very large, this seems almost impossible. But, in the case of the enmity between mankind and God, what seemed utterly impossible was accomplished by Immanuel.
He is the perfect mediator between the two sides, for in his person he unites perfect manhood with his Godhead. In his dealings with God, his atoning death on Calvary was the sufficient penalty for all his people’s sins.
No mere man could pay that price, but Immanuel the perfect God-man brings the infinite value of God to the transaction. The Bible also makes it clear that, for believers in Jesus, ‘When we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son’ (Romans 5:7).
Immanuel acted as mediator and purchased the church of God with his blood (Acts 20:28). His blood is the blood of God, with power to blot out all the sins of every sinner who believes in him, and to give them everlasting peace with God.
The way into the kingdom of God is unique — it is through faith in Jesus our Immanuel.
When a forgiven sinner enters God’s house, he is welcomed through the front door — and he doesn’t stay at the entrance! He’s invited inside to enjoy all the privileges of family membership.
Martin Wells served as an elder at Welcome Hall Evangelical Church, Bromsgrove