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Mary’s baby meant “God is with us”

December 10, 2021

Daily Scripture

Matthew 1:22-23

22 Now all of this took place so that what the Lord had spoken through the prophet would be fulfilled:

23 Look! A virgin will become pregnant and give birth to a son,
And they will call him, Emmanuel [Isaiah 7:14].
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)

Did You Know?

Isaiah 7:1-14 told of two neighboring kings plotting against Ahaz, the king of Judah. The prophet Isaiah told the worried king to ask for a sign that God was with him. The king defiantly refused. Isaiah said the sign was that a young woman would have a son. Scholar John Goldingay wrote, “We don’t know who the girl is—indeed, Isaiah doesn’t need to have a particular girl in mind. The point is that by the time a few months have passed and the girl has had her baby, the crisis that preoccupies Ahaz will be over.”* In a few years the hostile kingdoms would lose their power (and they did).

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Matthew quoted Isaiah 7 to link Jesus with the name “Emmanuel” (“God with us” in both Hebrew and Greek). Pastor Hamilton wrote, “Matthew was not confused nor was he misinterpreting Isaiah…. I think he was saying, ‘Jesus, like that first Immanuel, was a sign sent by God that you might know God is with you, that you might know he will never leave you’…. Jesus, in a way that the first Immanuel could not, incarnated the presence and love of the God who rules over the entire universe.”*

  • Scholar William Barclay summed up why Matthew linked “Emmanuel” with Jesus: “Jesus is the one person who can tell us what God is like, and what God means us to be. In him alone we see what God is and what [humans] ought to be.”*** In what ways have you made Jesus central to your understanding of what God is like? Has that helped you to avoid some of the negative, frightening images of God some people deal with? If so, how?
  • Matthew 18:20 quoted Jesus: “Where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them.” And in the gospel’s final verse, Jesus pledged that “I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age” (Matthew 28:20). What settings or practices help make God’s presence real to you? In what situations do you especially long for and value God’s presence with you?

The Journey: A Season of Reflections

Today’s Insights was chapter 12, “They Will Call Him Emmanuel,” from The Journey: A Season of Reflections, by Adam Hamilton. Copyright © 2011 by Abingdon Press, and available on our website for 24 hours by permission of Abingdon Press. If you’d like to buy the entire book of reflections, you can click here for a direct link to the Cokesbury sale page, as well as other Journey resources.


O Lord, on that first Christmas you came into our midst—human, but also more. Give me insight and humility as I take in the divine mystery that you were Emmanuel, “God with us.” Amen.

GPS Insights

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* John Goldingay, Isaiah for Everyone. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2015, p. 35.

** Adam Hamilton, The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2011, p. 48. (Pages 46-50 of the book explain Isaiah’s prophecy and how Matthew applied it more fully.)

*** William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew—Volume 1, Chapters 1-10 in The Daily Study Bible Series. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1976, p. 21.