The Uncommon Christ series explores lesser-known scriptural names and titles of Jesus Christ.
“O come, O come, Emmanuel, / And ransom captive Israel.” (1)
This phrase comes from one of my favorite Christmas songs. It isn't bright and happy like most holiday tunes celebrating the birth of the Messiah; it's a haunting, pre-Christmas pleading of God's people to deliver them.
Immanuel (eem-ah-noo-EHL), also spelled Emmanuel, is a transliteration--a borrowed word in pronunciation and meaning (2)--from Hebrew. Isaiah prophesied that “a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
WWhy was this prophesied title significant? Well, it's actually a full sentence that describes the mission of Jesus Christ. Here's the literal translation:
imm - anu - el
With - us - God [is].
The Savior fulfilled this prophecy in numerous ways.
First, as a member of the Godhead, God the Son literally came and lived among mankind; He was “the Word made flesh” (John 1:14). He willingly condescended from His throne on high so that He could experience mortality and “know according to the flesh how to succor his people” in our weakness, illness, temptation, sin, death, pain, and every other affliction (see Alma 7:11-15). In Gethsemane and on Golgotha He “descended below all things” (D&C 122:8) in order to lift us up.
Immanuel was both with us and for us.
Second, Immanuel enabled us to see and live with God, our Father, again someday. Our entire objective from the beginning was to be back with God forever, and Christ made it possible.
Finally, Immanuel bridged the gap between God the Father and His children, so we are able to connect to Him—and have Him with us—throughout our mortal journey. Think of it! Through Jesus Christ, you and I have access to the Eternal Father, the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, the Most High God at any and every moment in life!
I invite you to ponder the following questions:
What pain can I survive if I truly believe God is with me?
What fears would I put aside?
What hope could be ignited?
What buried courage can I uncover?
God [the Son] was and is with us. Because of that, we can be with God [the Father] now and forever. What a glorious truth!
“Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” (1)
Veni, Veni, Emmanuel (lyrics), 8-9th cent. AD, J.M. Neale translation, 1861
2. translation: to take a word in language A and find a word with an equivalent meaning in language B. The goal is to keep the meaning the same.
transliteration: to take a word in language A and reproduce similar sounds with letters from language B. The goal is to keep the sounds the same. (E.g. Karate is a word English borrowed from Japanese.)