“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 1:23, NASB)
As you begin your reading for today, I encourage you to first read Matthew 1:1–17. Matthew’s Gospel begins with the genealogy of Joseph, which gives evidence of Jesus’s humanity and His Jewish ancestral ties to Abraham and King David. Joseph’s marriage to Mary established him as Jesus’s legal father.
Matthew continues with the Christmas story told through the eyes of Joseph in 1:18–25. He departs from the details of Jesus’s birth in verse 23 to emphasize that seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah declared: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The Jewish people had waited hundreds of years for the fulfillment of this prophecy. Matthew announces that Jesus is the child of Isaiah’s prophecy and the promised Messiah.
When Matthew quotes Isaiah’s words, he wants his readers to know that “Immanuel” means “God with us.” In other words, even though Jesus has an earthly father (Joseph), which emphasizes Jesus’s humanity (Son of Man), Joseph was not Jesus’s biological father (Luke 1:26–38). This little baby was God come in the flesh, the God/Man. Therefore, Jesus is sinless and able to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
What are you celebrating this Christmas? Is your focus only on a baby born two thousand years ago? Are you caught up in red and green decorations, the singing of carols, the giving and receiving of presents, the gathering of family and friends for a holiday dinner? Or do you celebrate this baby as Immanuel, God with us? And remember Jesus’s promise as He prepared to leave earth: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). When you gather with family and friends, you can also celebrate that Jesus is with you right now!