What’s up with “Emmanuel?”
Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel, that mourns in lowly exile here, until the Son of Man appear.
Familiar words to you? More than likely you recognized the lyrics of that Christmas carol. What do those words mean? What do they mean for you?
The pivotal word of the phrase is “Emmanuel.” Sometimes it is written as “Immanuel.” It is the same Hebrew word transposed into English, and the meaning behind this Hebrew word is huge for you. The word comes from Isaiah 7:14:
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Somewhat of a unique name for a baby. But not when you consider the baby this was referring to. This baby is the baby you know as Jesus. This is another name for Jesus. It means “God with us!” To break it down, emma = with, nu = us, el = God. “God with us” is an amazing statement, isn’t it? God is the perfect creator of all things. Yet, we, his creation, are imperfect. We are fallen. We daily fall into sin – crossing the line which God has clearly laid out in his word and even written on our hearts. How can the perfect God be with imperfect, unholy people? Through that baby, with that name.
Jesus was “God with us.” Not only is it incredible that God was willing to be in the middle of the sinful world, and among sinful people, but the power of that preposition “with” goes even deeper. In Jesus, God not only was among his people, but God took on the flesh and blood of his people. He took on the flesh and blood of his people so that he could rescue them from their captivity. So he could ransom them – pay the price demanded by their captors.
You are a part of the Israel in captivity. While the nation of Israel found itself carried into captivity by several foreign powers, the foreign power that has carried you into captivity is sin. Jesus paid with his blood and his life to rescue you from that captivity – to free you from the chains of sin. He became God with us, so that you could be with God for eternity.
This well-known Christmas carol isn’t just about Christmas. Its words do remind us to reflect on what happened when God became Emmanuel – “God with us” – on that Christmas morning, and Jesus has rescued us from the captivity, but we still long for the day when that rescued will be complete. The day when the “Son of Man” appears again. And once again God will be with us, and we will be with God.
Do you remember the refrain for this well-known carol: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel will ransom captive Israel!”
Do it! Rejoice! God will be with us, because Jesus has ransomed us – he has bought us back from the sin that claimed our lives and gives us freedom in his name.
What special comfort do you have knowing Jesus is Emmanuel, “God with us”?
Write a prayer asking God to help you prepare for Jesus’ return.