God used Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to write the gospel accounts; each was written at different times. They didn’t get together in a room and decide who was going to write what. The Holy Spirit moved on them to write. Matthew doesn’t go into the same detail as Luke with the birth of Jesus. Matthew wrote more about it from the aspect of the prophets. Isaiah gives us a prophecy and Matthew quotes it as fulfilled. God, through Matthew, wants us to know who Jesus is.
Matthew 1:20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Jesus: with capital letters. People try to move Jesus out of Christmas but God’s son is still named. He’ll never be taken out of scripture. He may be cropped out; people may pretend he’s not there but he still is!
Isaiah 7 was written in the time of King Ahaz. Israel was at war with Syria. Ahaz had a formula to win. Isaiah told Ahaz to ask God for a sign. He said with a fake humility that I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. The real truth was he didn’t want counsel from God. Isaiah told him a sign would be given anyway. Isaiah said it and Joseph believed it.
Isaiah 7: 14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
The name Emmanuel is given in Isaiah but no interpretation is given until the book of Matthew. Isaiah spoke these words 600 years before Jesus was born. It was a sign for Israel and the entire human race. A virgin would conceive. The only ones involved would be Mary and the Holy Spirit. The angel told Joseph that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. Right after that, he told him the prophecy: Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Have you ever wondered why the angel told Joseph to name him Jesus first and then mentioned the part about Emmanuel? There is a likeness and a difference. Jesus is our all in all. Jesus is the human name of God’s son. Where was Jesus in Isaiah’s time? He was in heaven with God sitting at his right hand. Yet he appeared many times in the Old Testament. He was with the two angels who came to Abraham before the destruction of Sodom. In Joshua’s day he was Captain of the Lord of Hosts during the battle. David mentions him. He was in the furnace with the three Hebrew children. There is proof all over the place that Jesus existed even in Old Testament times. Gabriel told Mary he would be the son of the Highest and instructed he be named Jesus. God lived among us as a human. God became an embryo, a fetus, and was born a babe in Bethlehem. The angel reminded them that the scripture would be fulfilled and he would be called Emmanuel.
He was called Emmanuel long before he was called Jesus. His birth changed everything. Time is noted at B.C. before his birth and means Before Christ. It’s now referred to as A.D. That stands for Anno Domini and is Latin for in the year of our Lord. Don’t be paralyzed with fear. The year 2017 will still be in the year of our Lord.
In the 600 years between Isaiah’s writing and the birth of Jesus there were probably some good guesses as to what Emmanuel meant but it wasn’t until the angel told Joseph that we really knew: God with us. When Mary conceived they no longer had to guess. God let them know he was with us. He used to be with Adam and Eve in the Garden but that all changed when they sinned and God hadn’t been with man again until now. With us had been erased until Jesus was conceived. It’s not an insult or incorrect to call him Emmanuel. Only until we know him as Jesus, the Savior of the soul can we know him as Emmanuel, God with us. The only assurance of God with me is to know him as Jesus and let him save us from sin.
Jesus gives us access. He gives us the privilege and honor to call him Emmanuel and know he’s with us. One day he’ll take us to be with him. If we get no presents, if we hang no lights on a tree, it will still be Christmas, a Jesus Christmas, an Emmanuel Christmas. Those who know Jesus as Savior know him as Emmanuel. God is with us because he saved us from our sins. We know him as Jesus and in his fullness as Emmanuel.
Because Jesus is Jesus, that means he’s Emmanuel—God with us. That’s why we can have Christmas every day of the year.