‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel’
Matthew puts the words of Isaiah in the angel’s mouth and so declares that Jesus is also to be known as Emmanuel, a name which he points out means, ‘God is with us’.
Once again we are drawn into facing something truly wondrous, truly mysterious in looking this man in the face we will be looking into God’s eyes.
Once again we lose so much in translation for in the Greek this phrase “god is with us" is ego meth hemone eimi. In his choice of words Matthew captures the wonder of the incarnation.
In Greek the words ego eimi mean ‘I am’, which was the name of God in the Old Testament, simply ‘I am’! So in Matthew inserts between I and am, between ego and eimi the words meth hemone, with you.
The implication is that people are held within the bounds of the very name of God – God has drawn into God’s own life. Here we can find echoes of the promise expressed by that great church Father Athanasius who declared “He became human in order that we might become God with him.”
God in this genesis of Jesus not only saves us but opens the door into God’s own inner life so that we might share in his life. Rather than as people thinking that to be spiritual we must put God at the centre by our piety and efforts to be holy we discover a new and surprising thing God has put us at the centre of God’s own existence.
It is the revelation of this which enters our hearts and opens our eyes to the promise of a future determined not by our abilities or holiness or otherwise but by God’s choice to enact this amazing thing, this amazing grace which is announced by the angel in the dream to Joseph.
The implications of the incarnation are continuously unfolding in each of our lives as we discover the wonder of God’s grace for ourselves. For just as the genesis of Jesus life came into Mary’s womb unexpectedly so to the genesis of Jesus life for us grows within the womb of our faith and we celebrate this in the choices that we make to glorify and enjoy God in our living as we give thanks and praise in and through Jesus our Emmanuel.