IN addition to explaining the Name of Jesus, and recording its God given origin, the Holy Spirit, by the evangelist Matthew, has been pleased to refer us to the synonym of it, and so to give us still more of its meaning. “Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His Name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” If, when our Lord was born, and named “ Jesus,” the old prophecy which said that He should be called Emmanuel was fulfilled, it follows that the name “Jesus” bears a signification tantamount to that of “Emmanuel,” and that its virtual meaning is “God with us.” And, indeed, He is Jesus, the Savior, because He is Emmanuel, God with us; and as soon as He was born, and so became Emmanuel, the incarnate God, He became by that very fact Jesus, the Savior. By coming down from Heaven to this earth, and taking upon Himself our nature, He bridged the otherwise bridgeless gulf between God and man; by suffering in that human nature, and imparting, through His Divine nature, an infinite efficacy to His suffering, He removed that which would have destroyed us, and brought us everlasting life and salvation. O Jesus, dearest of all names in earth or in Heaven, I love thy music all the better because it is in such sweet harmony with another Name which rings melodiously in mine ears, Emmanuel, God with us!
Our Savior is God, and therefore He is “mighty to save;” He is God with us, and therefore pitiful; He is Divine, and therefore infinitely wise; but He is human, and therefore full of compassion. Never let us for a moment hesitate as to the Godhead of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His Deity is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. It may be that we shall never fully understand how God and man could be united in one Person, for who by searching can find out God? These great mysteries of godliness, these “deep things of God,” are beyond our measurement. Our little skiff might be lost if we ventured so far out upon this vast, this infinite ocean, as to lose sight of the shore of plainly revealed truth.
But let it remain, as a matter of faith, that Jesus Christ, even He who lay in Bethlehem’s manger, and was carried in a woman’s arms, and lived a suffering life, and died on a malefactor’s cross, was, nevertheless, the appointed “Heir of all things,” the brightness of His Father’s glory, “and the express image of His person,” “who thought it not a prize to be grasped to be equal, with God,” for that honor was already His, so that He could truly say, “I and My Father are one.”
Jesus of Nazareth was certainly not an angel. That fact the apostle Paul has abundantly disproved in the first and second chapters of his Epistle to the Hebrews. He could not have been an angel, for honors are ascribed to Him which were never bestowed on angels. He was no subordinate deity, or created being elevated to the Godhead, as some have absurdly said. All such statements are as unreliable as dreams and falsehoods. Christ was as surely God as He could be, one with the Father and the ever blessed Spirit.
If it were not so, not only would the great strength of our hope be gone, but the glory of the Incarnation would have evaporated altogether. The very essence of it is that it was God Himself who was veiled in human flesh; if it was any other being who thus came to us, I see nothing very remarkable in it, nothing comforting, certainly. That an angel should become a man, is a matter of no great consequence to me; that some other superior being should assume the nature of man, brings no joy to my heart, and opens no well of consolation to me.
But “God with us” is the source of exquisite delight. “God with us” all that “God” means, the Deity, the infinite Jehovah with us, this, this is worthy of the burst of midnight song, when angels startled the shepherds with their carols, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” This was worthy of the foresight of seers and prophets, worthy of a new star in the heavens, worthy of the care which Inspiration has manifested to preserve the record.
This, too, was worthy of the martyr deaths of apostles and confessors, who counted not their lives dear unto them for the sake of the incarnate God; and this is worthy, at this day, of our most earnest endeavors to spread the glad tidings, worthy of a holy life to illustrate its blessed influences, and worthy of a joyful death to prove its consoling power. Well did the apostle say, “Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh.” He who was born at Bethlehem is God, and “God with us.” God there lies the majesty; “God with us,” there lies the mercy.
God therein is glory; “God with us,” therein is grace. God alone might well strike us with terror; but “ God with us” inspires us with hope and confidence.