[Jesus] made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
“O Come, O Come, Immanuel” is a song filled with various titles for Jesus. These were all roles that he would fulfill by taking on our human flesh and becoming Immanuel (“God with us”).
Some months before Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord told Joseph in a dream that the child who would be born to Mary, his fiancée, was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The child was to be named Jesus because he would “save his people from their sins.” And this would fulfill a prophecy of Isaiah about a child born to a virgin; the child would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us” (see Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:20-23).
Philippians 2 describes how God himself comes down to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus, who is fully God, humbles himself, and is “made in human likeness.” And he comes with a purpose and a mission: to pay the price for our sins by dying in our place. He took on himself the weight of all our sin and paid the full price to free us by dying on a cross.
Whenever we sing about “Immanuel,” we sing about God himself becoming like us to save us from our sin. Jesus became Immanuel, “God with us,” to experience what we experience, to suffer as we suffer. And even more—to rescue us from that suffering. “Rejoice! Rejoice!” Immanuel has come to us!
Immanuel, thank you for humbling yourself by taking on our likeness and suffering on a cross to save us from our sin. Amen.