Isaiah speaks of Immanuel, predicting, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel, which means, God with us. Matthew, some 700 years later quotes the prophet saying: “Look the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means: God with us. A slight difference, yet an important message.
Isaiah told of the coming of one who will be “God with us,” as Immanuel; while Matthew offers Emmanuel as God with us, too. Both seem to mean the same thing. However, Matthew speaks of this Son being more than just a Son, but being a son both Human and Divine; both man and God; both infinite and finite.
This is the new interpretation, at a new time of God, in a relationship with mankind, who will be born in human form, in low estate; and that God will know us as we are from the very beginnings of himself in human life, and understand us in those same human terms.
These things were in the minds of the peoples as they called on God continuously in the Psalms: “Stir up your strength and come to help us. Restore us, O God of hosts; show us the light of your countenance and we shall be saved...” They even asked, “Let your hand be upon the man of your right hand, the son of man you have made so strong for yourself.”
All of these things happened at the moment of Jesus birth, as it had been predicted, as God found it necessary. He warned Joseph in a dream not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, “for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” he said. When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as commanded... when the babe was born, he named him Jesus.
All of these things happened many millennia ago, and yet we still rehearse them and come to know them new each year. Now that we are very close to Christmas day when we welcome the child, the babe, the miracle; we need to take these last few moments to make our preparations more complete, more welcoming; so God, in the form of Jesus can dwell within us. If we have purified our consciences, in this time, He most certainly will. That is what this whole effort of preparation is all about. Open your minds and hearts, your thoughts and souls, to receive that part of God, the Christ, who will come to dwell within us. AMEN.
The Rev. George O. Martin is an Ordained Deacon at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 17th and Adams, Great Bend. Send email to email@example.com.