Read: Matthew 1:18-25

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (v. 23)

In verse 21, God tells Joseph to name Mary’s baby “Jesus,” and in verse 25 he does. So why is it that in between those two verses we are told he would be named “Immanuel”? Which is it, Jesus or Immanuel? Well of course it’s both. The Jesus who will save us from our sins will be able to do that because he will be the living God among us.

What a gift it is to know this. When he was on earth Jesus was “with” so many people: little children whom he blessed, ostracized lepers whom he healed, scorned prostitutes and tax collectors whom he forgave. The Pharisees kept claiming Jesus hung out with all the wrong people. Not true: he was Immanuel, the living presence of God precisely among those who needed God most.

It’s the same today. Jesus remains God with us in the cancer clinic and at the bedside of the hospice patient. Jesus is God with us when the pink slip comes and when the long-awaited pregnancy results in miscarriage. Jesus is God with us at every juncture of life where hope could otherwise die but where it instead comes back to life because he’s here. With us. Matthew begins his Gospel with Immanuel, God with us. And he ends there too in Matthew 28: “Behold, I am with you, always.” —Scott Hoezee

Prayer: O come, O come, Immanuel. We need your presence this day and always. Amen.