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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






02 January 2006

Jesus Is Immanuel


Q: Why is Jesus called “Immanuel”?

ImmanuelA: Immanuel (also Emanuel or Emmanuel) is a Hebrew word meaning “God [is] with us.” Isaiah 7:14 (see also 8:5-10, especially verses 8 and 10) and Matthew 1:23 are texts we associate with the name. Physically and literally, Immanuel happens in the person of Jesus Christ: The Creator became part of His own Creation that He might save us from our sin.

Immanuel means that the Virgin conceived and bore a Son without human father; God assumed our flesh and joined Himself to mankind; a human woman became God’s mother. These miracles point to the far greater miracle: God became man so He could live a perfect life on our behalf, suffer and die to atone for our imperfection, and be raised again to life that we might live forever.

Scripture shows different reactions to these miracles of Christmas. Mary pondered these things in her heart; the shepherds came to see, then went home praising God; wise men traveled from afar to worship; Herod sought to destroy the newborn King.

How do you receive the message? Do you go to His house to hear His Word? Do you ponder God’s love for you in Christ? Do you live a life that tells others, “It’s a miracle that I’m alive”? If not, then go to the Source of the miracle, Christ and His holy Word. Experience — perhaps again, perhaps for the first time — the joy of having Him born in your own heart.

God give you a joyful, Christ-centered time of celebration now, as the Twelve Days of Christmas draw to their conclusion, and throughout time and eternity.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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