When you hear the names King David, Alexander the Great, Caesar, or even President Trump, there is one word that could describe them all: power! Just hearing their names denotes power. There is power in a name. There is one name that stands above them all. It is not just a name, but also a title. We find it given some 700 years before Jesus was ever born. Isaiah wrote,
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child
and bear a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14
And they shall call him Immanuel . . . Isaiah explains that Immanuel means “God with us” a few verses later (Isaiah 8:10). Just stop and think about that for a moment. This means that God would be with us not just in spirit, but in body as well. This is the same God that created the world (John 1:3). This God would humble himself to become a human and dwell with us. This is a mind-blowing theological truth. He didn’t have to come, but out of His love for the Father and the love for His creation, He came to live with us.
Before Isaiah knew all the details, he was looking forward to God’s presence, and in Matthew’s Gospel we find it coming to fruition. Matthew is not looking forward to God’s presence, but he is presenting it. Notice what he says,
“Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’” – Matthew 2:22-23
Matthew is recording one of the most important (if not the most important) events in human history. This is where we see God coming to dwell with us. If He does not come to us, there is no going to Him. If He does not come to us, there is no cross. Without the cross, there is no salvation.
So what kind of power is in a name? A lot; there is a lot of power in this name. Immanuel is not just another name, but it is the greatest of names. It tells us who Jesus was, and what He was going to do. This Christmas season, when you sing the old 18th century hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” remember just what it is that you are singing. You are singing about the advent of Jesus . . . you are singing about the Immanuel who literally came as a child but would go on to be our King, our Shepherd, our substitute, our portion, our God. That is what is in a name.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Adam B. Burrell