Matthew 1:18-23 says: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth her first born son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 'Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel,' which being interpreted is, God with us."
The prophet in verse 22 is Isaiah who wrote about 700 years before Christ was born, and the passage is Isaiah 7:14. If the Son of God had to come down here in such a way and give Himself to wash away our sins, they must have been exceedingly shameful. The birth of Christ is certainly a joyous event because of the great hope it brings, but it was indeed damning because of the necessity for which He came. He submitted Himself to this life, was made to suffer humiliation and scoffing and then died the cruelest of deaths. All of which was under the direction of the Father who planned our redemption.
One of the greatest parables from the lips of Jesus was the parable of the prodigal son. Look at that young man. He took his father's hard-earned money, went as far away as he could go; sought out the worst companions he could find; got himself in as deep as he could plunge. Yet, after he had wasted everything, his father loved him, received him and restored him. That is an example of grace. When we look at the state he was in, how far he had gone and how far he had fallen, we can see the love of God. The best way to understand God's love is to understand how deep into sin we had fallen - how far He has brought us. Why did He pay such a high price? Why did He send His only son to pay with His life? Because He loved us so much.
Twice in this passage Christ is given a name. In Biblical times people gave names with meaning to thier children. Noah means rest; Enoch means dedicated; Abram means exalted father; Abraham means father of a multitude; Isaac means he laughs; Jesus means Savior. That is why in verse 21, the angel told Joseph to name his child Jesus: "Thou shalt call his name Jesus, because he shall save his people from their sins." That emphasizes that He alone saves; not our faith in Him, but His death for us. Also, that He saves His people; those made willing to believe; those chosen by the Father. Thirdly, it emphasizes "from their sins." That is not what we deserve but what God graciously did. I do not know of a greater message for Christmas. There is no greater message.
The other name given to Christ is in verse 23, where it says: "They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us." Where is that name given to Christ? It is used only three times in the Bible: twice in the Book of Isaiah and once here in Matthew's Gospel. Each time the name is used in the sense of who He is. Christ is Emmanuel, God with us. John 1:14 says: "The word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father." The idea is that the person of the Godhead called the son was sent by the person called the Father to accomplish redemption for His people, thus, the name "Emmanuel" - God with us. He is Emmanuel. He is Savior.