What music there is in that name – Immanuel. To many of God’s sons and daughters the name Immanuel causes a tingling down the spine, a heady sense of other worldliness, a feeling of the nearness of the divine presence, a sense of safety, security, peace, life, tranquillity, beauty and wonderment.
What does the word mean? It comes from two Hebrew words, IMMANU – EL, the first meaning WITH US, and the second being one of the words translated GOD. Think about it for a moment. “GOD” conjures up the sense of the infinite, the majesty, the holy, the mighty, the transcendent One, distant, awesome, righteous, One to whom we need to exercise reverential fear. “US” brings us down to earth with a bump! It is our world, the world of men and women, of fallen creatures, of all our waywardness, sin, rebellion, hang-ups, struggles, hopes, fears, depressions, yearnings, anxieties, as well as the few times which may be called euphoric. Yes, “US” is truly our lowly world, in which we are born, live, and die. In between these two words comes that little word “WITH”. What blessedness! What joy! Here is the connecting link between Heaven and Earth. No longer is God so distant, so unapproachable, so awesome and fear inducing. He has come down among us men, born into the world just like us, a little baby, so vulnerable, crying, gurgling, seeking his mother’s breast, then growing up as a small boy, an adolescent, a young man, just like the rest of mankind. He knew our fears. He knew our struggles, our temptations, our pain and desperations, our need of relationship with the Father. We can relate to Him, we sense that He understands us. We feel His nearness, even though He has long since departed into the heavens again. There remains that abiding presence, that sweet residual awareness of the One who is truly GOD WITH US. That is why so many have come to treat the word Immanuel with so much respect.
His name is JESUS. And we are told that “the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Father of Eternity, the Prince of Peace.” (Isa.9:6) There is no possible way round it. He is truly God, God the Son, the only-begotten of the Father. As He declared Himself, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” No wonder the Jews wanted to stone Him. They recognised the power within those words. Either they were true, or they were the greatest blasphemy man could utter.
It is as simple as A,B,C, to believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. And yet many have striven to demote Him to that lower place of just a senior created being. We are aware of the teaching of Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Worldwide Church of God, and the Unitarian Universalists, to name but three large movements that vigorously denounce the “Trinity” as heresy. But have you ever noticed how dry and lifeless are their teachings? There is truth, yes, but it feels dead. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is present in the world to glorify the Son of God, and if men do not believe that Jesus is truly Immanuel, God with us, then the Spirit is unable to provide that inner witness. Truth is then disseminated without life.
But the four Evangelists declare Him to be the Son of God without any possibility of misconception. The angel said to Joseph, “She (Mary) shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins.” Can any but God take away sins? Can any created being fulfil that function? Mary brought forth her first-born Son by a miracle of conception, known as parthenogenesis, virgin birth. It had never been known before, and never since. It was God the Son’s entrance into the world, by Whom we now have this amazing relationship. Our sins have been forgiven, we have received the gift of new life in His name, we sense His presence with us every day, we talk to Him and with Him along life’s narrow way, and we have a deeply rooted awareness of eternity in our souls, a longing for the next world, the immortal body, the beauty of paradise, and above all the joy of looking into His wonderful face.
Immanuel, O Immanuel,
Bowed in awe, I worship at Your feet,
And sing Immanuel, God is with us,
Sharing my humanness, my shame, feeling my weakness, my pain,
Taking the punishment, the blame, Immanuel;
And now my words cannot explain, all that my heart cannot contain,
How great are the glories of Your name, Immanuel.
(Words by Graham Kendrick)