“What child is this?”
That’s a good question! And we need to ponder it as we look at decisions we have made about Jesus. Lets take a look back and see what the Bible tells us about this baby lying in the manger.
Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she was chosen to fulfill the prophecy that had been spoken of in her Jewish family for oh so many years.
“Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and His Name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God with us.) Isaiah 7:14
When Gabriel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How shall this be, since I have no husband? And the angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called Holy, the Son of God.”
Mary’s answer to the angel was, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:30-38) And it was! Mary became so overwhelmed with the Power of the Holy Spirit that she became pregnant! With the Son of God!! Can you wrap your mind around that? This is the Power of LOVE. Intimacy with God!! Powerful intimacy. Just what we are searching for.
But now she had a problem. She was engaged to Joseph. And she was pregnant! She went to visit Elizabeth, her mother’s sister, for the angel had also told her that Elizabeth was finally pregnant after all these years. Picture this: Mary arrives, calls out a greeting to Elizabeth—and the son in Elizabeth’s womb is filled with the Holy Spirit and leaps for Joy! Elizabeth, too, was filled with the Holy Spirit! Elizabeth and Mary knew without a doubt that they were witnessing a miracle: the pregnancies of a special forerunner of Jesus—a prophet to make ready for the Lord a people prepared for the knowledge of salvation—and the actual Son of God Himself.
Elizabeth’s husband, the high priest Zechariah, was sharing his experience that he had had in the temple about when this very same Angel Gabriel had appeared to him to tell him of Elizabeth’s impending pregnancy. He could only do this in writing, for his unbelief had caused the angel to silence his vocal cords for the duration of the pregnancy. His story was reassuring to the women.
But—what was Mary going to tell Joseph? She was a virgin who was pregnant! In Matthew Chapter 1, we read of Joseph’s concern for Mary and what he has figured out he is going to do: divorce her quietly. Starting with verse 20, we read, “But as he considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her IS of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife but knew her not until she had borne a son; and he called His Name Jesus. (v.24.)
Imagine the conversations these two had as they anticipated the birth of this miraculous baby! Would he arrive walking and talking and quoting the Scriptures? Or would He really just be a baby, but a baby who actually WAS one of the Trinity?
Near the end of the pregnancy, a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus that all the world had to be enrolled, each in his own city of origin. Joseph had to travel to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, and Mary traveled with him. As Luke 2 tells us, “And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.
And in that region, there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.:
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:13-14)
When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.
Can you imagine? This had to be such confirmation to Mary and Joseph that this baby was indeed who God had said He would be! Mary—a virgin; Joseph, the adoptive father who had decided to trust what the angel had told him. The shepherds had appeared at their stable with no invitation—only an unbelievable story of what was taking place in their little town that night. How unbelievably amazing was their description of a multitude of the heavenly host—something they had never seen in all their lives lived out on this dessert! They had been singled out—chosen—for just such a night as this! They had actually seen Jesus, the Prophesied Child, the One whom their Scriptures had long told them was coming! They had seen him with their own eyes! They had experienced the Love of the Trinity. It had been their special privilege!
But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart (v.19)—just as we should do—ponder them for ourselves during this Advent season. Who is/was this Child whose birth is so carefully and interestingly written about in these, our Scriptures?
How does knowing that this is indeed the Son of God change my thoughts as I whisper the Name of Jesus? Is He a God of “religion” or a God of Love? How will it challenge my perceptions of Father, Son and Holy Spirit as I see these Truths in my Bible? Does it affect me personally as I see more clearly what God has done here: sent His Son in the likeness of sinful man and for my sin? He has an Eternal Destiny that includes me. Why did He come? For Love’s sake. He loves me. He said so. And that Truth sets me free. Because He is the Way, and the Truth and my Life!