Dear Catholic Exchange:
I've always wondered why, if Jesus was supposed to be called 'Emmanuel,' he was named 'Jesus' instead.
In Isaiah 7:14, the prophet says, "Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." The name "Emmanuel" means "God is with us." The name "Jesus" (or Yeshua), means "God will save." St. Matthew makes reference to this prophecy in his gospel (Mt. 1:23). So, why didn't Mary name Jesus Emmanuel?
The author probably didn't mean that the Messiah would literally be named Emmanuel, but that the name Emmanuel expressed a reality about the Messiah; that in Him, God is with us. This is similar to Isaiah 9:6, which reads, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulder, and his name will be called 'Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'" Of course, Jesus was not literally named any of these things, but they express elements of His person and ministry. This meaning of "calling" the Messiah Emmanuel can be inferred at other points in Scripture, such as Jn. 1:1-3, Jn. 1:14, and Col. 2:9.