December 18, 2016

Repost: Why Isn’t Jesus Named Emmanuel?

The angel appears to St. Joseph in a dream.
The following is reposted from December of last year. We present it here for your consideration:

In Matthew’s Gospel, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream and tells him, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." [Matthew 1:21].

The verse immediately afterward states, "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,' which means 'God is with us'"

This begs the question, why isn’t Jesus named Emmanuel?

Matthew 23 quotes the prophet Isaiah who some 300 years earlier predicted, "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel." [Isaiah 7:14]

In this context, "name" does not refer to the name Joseph and Mary were to call their Son. It is rather, a designation of Jesus Christ in relation to his Incarnation and Divine Mission. Elsewhere, Sacred Scripture refers to the expected Messiah as "Wonderful Counselor," "Mighty God," "Everlasting Father," and "Prince of Peace," [Isaiah 9:6] yet, no one argues Jesus' name should be "Wonderful Counselor".

Both Isaiah and Matthew use "Emmanuel" in reference to Jesus. Isaiah prefigures the nature and form of Christ's Incarnation whereas Matthew elucidates its immediacy. Each are saying that Jesus truly is "God with us."

2,000 years ago, through his Incarnation, Jesus literally and tangibly became "God is with us". He remains with us in the following ways:

◗ He is present everywhere as God because of his knowledge, power and divinity. This is God's natural presence.

◗ He is present spiritually in those who are in a state of grace.

◗ He is present physically in the form of flesh and blood, soul and divinity in the Eucharist, and in his glorified body in Heaven.

[The name Jesus means "the Lord saves". It is the Greek form of the name "Joshua", pronounced Yay-shoe-uh, and it was a common name among first century Jews.]

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