Joseph and Immanuel

12.15.23 Devo Image

“See, the virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they will name Him Immanuel, which is translated ‘God is with us.’”—Matthew 1:23 (HCSB)

What’s the first thing you learn about someone when you’re first introduced to them? Their name! Why? Because names help us remember people, to identify them, and to know who we’re communicating with. 

Today, many people name their kids based on what name they think is pretty or cool or popular (look up the most popular boy and girl names in the 2000s at the height of the Twilight saga’s popularity), rarely looking deeper at the origins and etymology of the name or its cultural significance and heritage. In ancient times, names were given for special reasons. Isaac (“he laughs”) was named because of the laughter of Abraham and Sarah when God told them they’d have a son in their old age. Jacob (“he grasps the heel”) was given his name because he was born “with his hand grasping Esau’s heel” (Genesis 25:26 NIV). 

Names in the Bible are truly significant because they often tell us something about the person. And I can tell you with confidence that no name in the history of the universe carries more significance or tells us more about a person than the name mentioned in Matthew 1:23!

A little context: Joseph and Mary were engaged to be married. But somehow Mary became pregnant before the wedding, and not by Joseph. Not exactly the picture-perfect wedding, right? So, after finding out Mary was pregnant, Joseph called off the engagement. 

Now, as we discovered a few days ago, Joseph could have publicly shamed her or had her stoned to death. Why? Because as his betrothed, it was essentially like already being married. So, getting pregnant by someone other than him would equate to being caught in adultery. He was well within his legal rights to go this route. But Matthew 1:19 (NLT) tell us that he decided to break off the engagement quietly because he “was a righteous man.” No shame, no death; he opted for a quiet, compassionate resolution. 

But before he could go through with the breakup, he was visited in a dream by the angel Gabriel, who confirmed to him that Mary’s story was true! In Matthew 1:20–21 (HCSB), he says, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” And all of this took place to fulfill what the Lord spoke through the prophet Isaiah, who said, “The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14 HCSB), which means “God is with us.”

At this point, Joseph could have said to himself, “I didn’t sign up for this. Raising the Savior? I’m just a carpenter. I’m not equipped for this. This is more than I bargained for. Count me out.” But he didn’t. Instead, when he woke up, he did everything the angel commanded

Joseph was faced with a difficult situation. He was asked to marry a woman who was pregnant before their wedding and endure the criticism, gossip, and shame that surely followed. You don’t read of a big celebratory wedding for Mary and Joseph. It’s very likely they married against the wishes of both families. But Joseph, like Mary, courageously endured this and showed his faithfulness to the Lord by raising Jesus as his own. Why? Because He trusted in the name of the one he would have the honor and privilege of raising and calling “son.”

I love this passage; I love this name. It’s the perfect name for the perfect gift of God! There’s so much comfort, peace, and beauty in it. 

As you get ready to celebrate Christmas, remember that Immanuel came to make a way for all to know God deeply and intimately, to save us from our sins, to transform our hearts, to renew our minds, to speak peace into our very souls, and to bring our spirits to life (John 1:4–5). The Son of God left heaven so we would have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV). He made His dwelling among us, died for us, and now makes His dwelling within us. Oh, what a beautiful name it is!

Pause: Why are the names and titles given to God so important in Scripture? 

Practice:  Make a family tree and talk about your family story. Ask your parents why they gave you the name they did. If you have kids, tell them why you gave them their names.

Pray: Jesus, my Lord and Savior, I praise You using all the different names and titles given to You in Your Word: 1. Savior 2. Redeemer 3. Bread of Life 4. Lord 5. Creator 6. Son of the Living God 7. Only Begotten Son 8. Beloved Son 9. Holy One of Israel 10–14. Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace 15. King of Kings 16. Head of the Church 17. The Almighty 18. Alpha and Omega 19. Master 20. King of the Jews 21. High Priest 22. Prophet 23. Teacher 24. Immanuel 25. Advocate 26. Mediator 27. Judge 28. Chief Cornerstone 29. Author and Finisher of Our Faith 30. Lamb of God 31. Good Shepherd 32. The Shepherd and Bishop of Souls 33. The Word 34. Fountain of Living Waters 35. Rock 36. Messiah 37. True Vine 38. Branch 39. Bridegroom 40. Dayspring 41. Shiloh 42. The Lion of the Tribe of Judah 43. The Bright and Morning Star 44. The Image of the Invisible God 45. I Am 46. Son of Man 47. Carpenter 48. The Way, the Truth, and the Life 49. King of Israel 50. Christ (“the anointed one”). This is who You are! Today, I thank You simply for being You! You are amazing and wonderful and beautiful and I love everything about You, my precious King and friend! Amen.

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.