What does the name “Jesus” mean to you? What does it remind you of? How is it related to the name “Immanuel”; what is the significance?
In these days we call children by names which have no particular meaning. They are the names, perhaps, of some celebrities or respected personalities, but there is no special meaning as a general rule in our children’s names. It was not so in the olden times. Then names meant something. Scriptural names, as a general rule, contain teaching, and especially is this the case in every name ascribed to the Lord Jesus. With Him names indicate things. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6), because He really is all these. His name is called Jesus, but not without a reason. Here is the Gospel passage that explains why: “20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “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.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, 25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matt 1:20-25).
Joseph is told that Mary should bring forth the Saviour of the world. He was to call his name Jesus, a Saviour. Jesus is the same name with Joshua. And the reason of that name is clear, for those whom Christ saves, he saves from their sins; from the guilt of sin by the merit of his death, and from the power of sin by the Spirit of his grace. In saving them from sin, he saves them from wrath and the curse, and all misery, here and hereafter. Christ came to save his people, not in their sins, but from their sins to purchase for them, not a liberty to sin, but a liberty from sins, to redeem them from all iniquity (Titus 2:14) and so to redeem them from among men (Revelation 14:4) to himself, who is separate from sinners. So that those who leave their sins, and give up themselves to Christ as his people, are interested in the Saviour, and the great salvation which he has wrought out (Romans 11:26). Joseph did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, speedily, without delay, and cheerfully, without dispute. By applying the general rules of the written word, we should in all the steps of our lives, particularly the great turns of them, take direction from God, and we shall find this safe and comfortable.
In addition to explaining the name of Jesus, and recording its God given origin, the Holy Spirit, by the evangelist Matthew, has been pleased to refer us to the synonym of it, and so to give us still more of its meaning. “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”. If, when our Lord was born, and named “Jesus,” the old prophecy which said that He should be called Immanuel was fulfilled, it follows that the name “Jesus” bears a signification tantamount to that of “Immanuel,” and that its virtual meaning is “God with us”. And, indeed, He is Jesus, the Saviour, because He is Immanuel, God with us; and as soon as He was born, and so became Immanuel, the incarnate God, He became by that very fact Jesus, the Saviour. By coming down from Heaven to this earth, and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man; by suffering in that human nature, and imparting, through His Divine nature, an infinite efficacy to His suffering, He removed that which would have destroyed us, and brought us everlasting life and salvation. O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love thy music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another name which rings melodiously in my ears, Immanuel, God with us!
Especially does this come out with sweetness in His being “God with us” in our sorrows. There is no pang that rends the heart—I might almost say not one which disturbs the body—but what Jesus Christ has been with us in it all. Do you feel the sorrows of poverty? He “had not where to lay His head.” Do you endure the griefs of bereavement? Jesus “wept” at the tomb of Lazarus. Have you been slandered for righteousness’ sake and has it vexed your spirit? He said, “Reproach has broken My heart.” Have you been betrayed? Do not forget that He, too, had His familiar friend who sold Him for the price of a slave. On what stormy seas have you been tossed which have not also roared around His boat? Never a glen of adversity so dark, so deep, apparently so pathless, but what in stooping down you may discover the footprints of the Crucified One. In the fires and in the rivers, in the cold night and under the burning sun, He cries, “I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am both your companion and your God.”
Our Saviour is God, and therefore He is “mighty to save;” He is God with us, and therefore pitiful; He is Divine, and therefore infinitely wise; but He is human, and therefore full of compassion. Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be that we shall never fully understand how God and man could be united in one Person, for who by searching can find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly revealed truth.
But let it remain, as a matter of faith, that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger, and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life, and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, the appointed “Heir of all things,” the brightness of His Father’s glory, “and the express image of His person,” “who thought it not a prize to be grasped to be equal, with God,” for that honour was already His, so that He could truly say, “I and My Father are one.”
“God with us” is the source of exquisite delight. “God with us” all that “God” means, the Deity, the infinite God with us, this is worthy of the burst of midnight song, when angels startled the shepherds with their carols, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This was worthy of the foresight of seers and prophets, worthy of a new star in the heavens, worthy of the care which inspiration has manifested to preserve the record. This, too, was worthy of the martyr deaths of apostles and confessors, who counted not their lives dear unto them for the sake of the incarnate God. And this, my brethren, is worthy at this day of our most earnest endeavors to spread the glad tidings. It is worthy of a holy life to illustrate its blessed influences and worthy of a joyful death to prove its consoling power. Here is the first truth of our holy faith—“Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in the flesh.” He who was born at Bethlehem is God and “God with us.” God—there lies the majesty. “God with us”—there lies the mercy. God—there is glory. “God with us”—there is grace. God alone might well strike us with terror, but “God with us” inspires us with hope and confidence.
My brethren, let us be with God since God is with us. We, the saints redeemed by blood, have a right to all this in its fullest sense. Drink it in and be filled with courage. Do not say, “We can do nothing.” Who are we that can do nothing? God is with us. Do not say, “The church is feeble and fallen upon evil times”—no, “God is with us.” We need the courage of those ancient soldiers who were desirous to regard difficulties only as whetstones upon which to sharpen their swords. Whatever is possible or whatever is impossible, Christians can do at God’s command, for God is with us. Do we not see that the word, “God with us,” puts impossibility out of all existence? Hearts that could never be broken will be broken if God is with us. Errors which never could be confuted can be overthrown by, “God with us”. Things impossible with men are possible with God. Let us live with it upon our hearts—“The best of all is God with us.” Blessed Son of God, we thank You that You have brought us that word. Amen.
Let us praise God with the song “God With Us”: