Almost 2,000 years ago, a young woman from Nazareth, Mary, was visited by an angel, Gabriel. He shared some great news that would change lives. Mary is the mother of Jesus Christ, and Luke 1:28 describes her as “highly favored.” The phrase comes from a Greek word that means “much grace,” which is what Mary received. Mary lived an average life until Gabriel appeared to her and changed her life forever.
Who named Jesus when He was born?
Joseph was Jesus’ earthly father, a descendant of King David, who lived in Nazareth and was pledged to be married to Mary. Matthew 1:18 tells us that Mary became pregnant through the Holy Spirit, not through Joseph. Therefore, he’s understood as Jesus’ earthly adoptive father, not as His biological father. The Bible doesn’t give us much detail about Joseph, but with the given glimpses we get into his life, we can understand that Joseph was a humble man who obeyed God. In Matthew 1:23-25, an angel appears to Joseph, telling him not to be scared to take Mary as his wife, and Joseph immediately obeyed.
In that same verse, the angel told Joseph that Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit. She’ll have a son, and you will name Him Jesus because He’ll save people from their sins. In Luke 1:30-33, Mary was visited by an angel named Gabriel. Essentially, he told Mary the same thing that was told to Joseph: that she would have a son named Jesus, who would be God’s Son. Then, Mary questioned how this was possible since she was a virgin, but the Angel Gabriel explained the miracles of Jesus’ incarnation. Jesus would be born to a virgin, like the prophecy predicted in Isaiah 7:14. So, it would seem that the first angel who visited Joseph was the one who named Jesus before He was born.
Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
Due to an order from the Roman emperor that a census be taken in their hometown, Joseph and Mary had to travel to Bethlehem. After traveling on a donkey while pregnant for several days, Mary and Joseph entered Bethlehem but were told there were no places for them to stay because the inns were full. However, seeing that Mary could give birth any minute, one inn owner told Joseph they could stay in his stable. The couple settled on the hay in a stable with animals sleeping around them. Eventually, Mary went into labor, and Jesus was born in the stable. The only place for the baby to sleep was in an animal’s trough called the manger.
At that time, an angel appeared to shepherds who were watching their flocks in nearby fields, telling them the good news of the birth of the Messiah. The shepherds immediately went to see baby Jesus, whom the angels told them they would find sleeping in a manger. After some time passed, three wise men, also known as the magi, saw the bright star in the sky that sat over where Jesus was born. They traveled from distant lands to find the new king. During their trip, they met with King Herod, who told them to return and let him know where the baby king was so he could worship him.
The three wise men continued their trek to Bethlehem and found Jesus, where the star pointed. They knelt and worshipped the Savior, giving Him gifts of frankincense, gold, and myrrh. Then, they traveled back home a different way, knowing that Herod didn’t intend to worship Jesus and instead planned to kill the baby.
Why was Jesus not named Immanuel?
Matthew 1:21-24 tells us that an angel came to Joseph in a dream, giving him instructions about naming the baby Mary was carrying. The angel told him to name the baby Jesus because He’ll save His people from their sins. All of this happened to fulfill what God said through the prophet: that a virgin will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel, meaning “God with us.” This passage makes many people question why this verse brings up the name Immanuel, but in no place in the Bible do we see anyone applying this name to Jesus.
In this passage, Jesus appears to be given two names. Joseph is told to name Him Jesus, a name that means “Yahweh saves.” This name is suitable because He will save His people from their sins. The actual name given in the passage is Yeshua, which translates to English as Joshua. However, through Greek, Latin, and English translations, it has evolved into Jesus. The second name is Immanuel, occasionally spelled Emmanuel. This name comes from Isaiah’s prophetic message to King Ahaz in Isaiah 7:14. Matthew sees this sign from Isaiah as also being applicable to the birth of Jesus.
Matthew tells us that Immanuel means “God with us.” The name “Jesus” is descriptive of what Jesus did, but Immanuel is descriptive of who Jesus is. However, was Immanuel actually a name given to Jesus, or was it more descriptive of who He is? Notice that Joseph is instructed to name the baby Jesus, but He would be called Immanuel, not named Immanuel. Several sports have identified certain players as their G.O.A.T., meaning the Greatest of All Time. That’s not actually a name that’s been given to them. Still, it’s more of a descriptive title. No one actually calls them the G.O.A.T., but many identify them as such. The same could be said with Immanuel and Jesus. Immanuel wasn’t intended to be a proper name that people would call Him, but as you read the Bible, you find that people identified Him as “God with us.”
We refer to Him as Jesu because we know Him through English translations of the Greek New Testament. The Bible doesn’t value one language over another, and it doesn’t indicate that we must use Hebrew when addressing the Lord. The story of Jesus’ miraculous birth starts with angels coming to Joseph and Mary, telling them that they will have a son named Jesus. From that point, the world was never the same.