What's in a Name?


Father, teach me to listen to You and to believe even what seems impossible.


Read: MATTHEW 1:18-25

[18] This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. [19] Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. [20] But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.[21] She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” [22] All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: [23] “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). [24] When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. [25] But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.



Today we reflect on the Christmas story from Joseph’s perspective, and we see how it is the fulfillment of the prophecies spoken by Isaiah 700 years earlier. Mary and Joseph were real people who lived in real time in the real world. And, like a normal man who has discovered that his betrothed is pregnant when he knows that he could not be the father of the child, Joseph assumes the worst. The Bible is not a mythical world where strange things happen that people think to be completely normal. Joseph understands biology and he does the kindest thing he can think of—he decides to break off the relationship quietly before the marriage. But imagine how Mary must have felt. She, too, lived in the real world.Joseph has a dream in which “an angel of the Lord appears to him” (20). After this miraculous experience Joseph believes that Mary’s child will be the Messiah. And it is not only Mary who has been selected for a significant role—Joseph too has a major part in redemption’s story, being given the awesome task of naming the child. He is to be called Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins” (21), thereby bringing God’s presence to his people (“Immanuel”; 23).



“Immanuel—God with us.” As you pray, ask to know the presence of Immanuel today.



God With Us, thank You for the unspeakable gift of Yourself!


Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Terry Schneider