18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. When Mary his mother was engaged to Joseph, before they were married, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph her husband was a righteous man. Because he didn’t want to humiliate her, he decided to call off their engagement quietly. 20 As he was thinking about this, an angel from the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because the child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 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.
(Emmanuel means “God with us.”)
24 When Joseph woke up, he did just as an angel from God commanded and took Mary as his wife. 25 But he didn’t have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. Joseph called him Jesus.
Expectant parents put a lot of thought, time and conversation into picking out the right name for their new baby. Sometimes they want to pass on a family name that goes back generations, or they want a name that can be translated from the original, such as Ethan, which means “strong.” Names can even be descriptive of attributes parents value and expect the child will have, such as the name Mercy. Whatever name we are given, it becomes part of our identity, and how others identify us.
When Joseph is deciding what to do about Mary, his pregnant betrothed, an angel of the Lord comes to him in a dream and tells him to not be afraid. He reassures Joseph that he and Mary have been chosen to take part in fulfilling the promise foretold in scripture, the coming of the Messiah. Joseph is told to name the child Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins.” Yeshua, or Jesus, is derived from the Hebrew meaning “Deliverer, Savior.”
The angel then quotes the prophecy from Isaiah 7:14, that Joseph would have been familiar with, that describes how Jesus will be born and tells Joseph “they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” This baby, Jesus, comes into the world to deliver us from our sins, bringing the gift of salvation. This little baby is God in human flesh, who will experience every human emotion, joy and sorrow, even suffering and death. This baby is “God with us” so that we can experience God’s extraordinary love as his children and be redeemed from our sins. With Immanuel – God with us, we will never be alone and we too can receive the angel’s greeting, “Fear not!”
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
During the rush of the holiday season it’s often easy for the reason we celebrate Christmas to get lost. We may not feel happy or may be experiencing difficulties in our lives that bring sadness and stress.
Where in your life do you need to accept the angel’s message “Fear not!”? Both Joseph and Mary accepted God’s call to serve him. Where do you feel God has been calling you to serve him?
Take a few minutes now to be still and pray, “Thank you God that you are with me, and that you love me so much, that you became human to die and save me from my sins.” Amen.