Jesus and Immanuel

From “Sermon Preached on Christmas-Day, at Pauls, in the Evening” (1624)

Though the angel at the conception told Joseph that he should call his name Jesus, and tells Mary herself that she shall call his name Jesus, yet the Blessed Virgin herself shall have a further reach, a clearer illustration, “She shall call his name Immanuel, God with us.”

Others were called Jesus, Joshua was so, diverse others were so; but, in the Scriptures there was never any but Christ called Immanuel. Though Jesus signifies a Savior, Joseph was able to call this child Jesus, for a more particular reason, and way of salvation than others who had that name, because they had saved the people from present calamities, and imminent dangers. For the angel told Joseph, that he should therefore be called Jesus, because he should save the people from their sins. And so, no Joshua, no other Jesus was a Jesus. But the Blessed Virgin saw more than this; not only that he should be such a Jesus as should save them from their sins, but she saw the manner how, that he should be Immanuel, God with us, God and man in one person, that so, being man, he might suffer, and being God, that should give an infinite value to his sufferings, according to the contract passed between the Father and him. And so he should be Jesus, a Savior, a Savior from sin, and this by this way and means. And then that all this should be established, and declared by an infallible sign, with this Ecce, “Behold;” That whosoever can call upon God by that name Immanuel, that is, confessing Christ to be come in the flesh, that man shall have an Ecce, a light, a sign, a token, an assurance that this Immanuel, this Jesus, this Savior belongs unto him, and he shall be able to say, Ecce — “Behold, mine eyes have seen thy salvation.”

John Donne (1572-1631) was an English cleric, poet, and scholar, acclaimed as one of the finest preachers of his day. He is widely considered the preeminent metaphysical poet, prized for his inventiveness in the use of metaphor and his dramatic, vigorous style. He was ordained after a political and military career, serving as chaplain at Lincoln’s Inn, and for the last ten years of his life, as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Donne is commemorated on the liturgical calendar of several Anglican churches on March 31.


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