Name Him Jesus; Call Him Immanuel: The Names of Jesus and the Point of Religion

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The birth of Jesus Christ came about this way: After Mary his mother had been engaged to Joseph, it was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. So her husband Joseph, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her publicly, decided to divorce her secretly.

But after he had considered these things, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

“See, the virgin will become pregnant
and give birth to a son,
and they will name Him Immanuel.”

(Matthew 1:18-23, HCSB)

They named him Jesus — Yahweh saves.

They called him Immanuel — God with us.

God, our Creator, become one of us.

God, our Deliverer, enacting salvation by himself and in himself.

(He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no one to intercede;
then his own arm brought him salvation,
and his righteousness upheld him.

He put on righteousness as a breastplate,
and a helmet of salvation on his head;
he put on garments of vengeance for clothing,
and wrapped himself in zeal as a cloak.

Isaiah 59:16-17, ESV)

Son of God become Son of Man, blurring the lines eternally.

(Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9, ESV)

The Son of David sitting on the throne of the kingdom of God forever, because he is himself God even as he is himself man and son of David’s line.

(Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;

you have loved righteousness and hated wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.

Psalm 45:6-7, ESV)

We’re told often that all religions are the same. That if you dig deep enough, you’ll find they share the same core, making everything else just chaff.

But that is a fundamental misunderstanding of what Christianity, at least, is.

Yes, if you dig deep enough, you’ll find that most religions share a core system of moral values. (Of course, you’ll find that most HUMANS share that core system, regardless of religious beliefs. C.S. Lewis unfolded this brilliantly in his classic MERE CHRISTIANITY. Pretty much all of us think it’s wrong to steal, murder, cheat on your spouse, etc. — at least when someone’s doing it to us.)

But that isn’t what Christianity is about. Morals are important. But they are not the point.

The point is who Jesus is.

The point is that YAHWEH saves — not our efforts, our rituals, our “spirituality,” our good deeds.

The point is a Person.

The point is, further, that salvation ultimately takes the form of relationship.

Jesus is God with us.

He is the Creator returned to his creation and in fact immersed in it.

He is invisible Spirit forever dressed in skin and bones.

I talk about this a lot. The incarnation. The central mystery of our faith.

Can we please agree that “Immanuel” is not something we should ever, ever, ever get used to?

The prophet Ezekiel looked into heaven and saw a Man on the throne.

(Ezekiel 8:2)

This is what the kingdom of God means.

Trust in Jesus — Yahweh saves.

Walk with Immanuel — God with us.







One response to “Name Him Jesus; Call Him Immanuel: The Names of Jesus and the Point of Religion”

  1. Bill Tuck Jr. Avatar

    Rachel I Love The way you focus on on a point and make it real. Such a Pleasure! No Confusion.

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