More Than a Baby in a Manger
“And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Luke 2:4-7)
On that same night Jesus was born, “an angel of the Lord” appeared to some shepherds and said:
“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:11-12).
During this time of year many people, even those who are not normally very religious, adore and worship Jesus as this “Babe…lying in a manger.” While people may honor Jesus’ birth, do they recognize and honor Him for who He is that is so much more than just a baby in a manger? The angel of the Lord told the shepherds that this “Babe…in a manger” was a sign pointing to Jesus’ most glorious identity: “a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
Jesus is Our Savior
Before this “Babe” was born, an angel of the Lord told Joseph:
“…you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Jesus told His disciples how He would save His people from their sins:
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16).
Jesus shed His blood on the cross “for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28) and after His resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit to His apostles to reveal how we could have the remission of our sins and thus be saved.
“Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’…And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation.’ Then those who gladly received his word were baptized… And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:38,40-41,47).
We honor Jesus as our Savior not by adoring His birth, but by obeying His plan for our salvation and by remaining active, faithful members in His church.
“Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body” (Ephesians 5:23).
Jesus is the Christ
Peter confessed to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16) “Christ” is the Greek term used to describe the Hebrew “Messiah” of Old Testament prophecy. The words “Christ” and “Messiah” mean “Anointed,” referring to God’s anointed in certain contexts. During the Old Testament times prophets, priests and kings were anointed; in the New Testament age, Jesus is God’s Anointed One.
Jesus is God’s anointed Prophet. Peter, in speaking of Jesus Christ, said:
“For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people” (Acts 3:22-23).
Jesus is God’s anointed High Priest.
“So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’ And He also says in another place: ‘You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek’;…and having been perfected, He became the author of salvation to all who obey Him, called by God as High Priest…”(Hebrews 5:5-6, 9-10).
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14).
Jesus is God’s anointed King. The Psalmist predicted that “the kings of the earth” and “the rulers” would “take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed” in an attempt to break free from God’s reign over them (Psalm 2:1-3). But in spite of Herod (the Jews) and Pilate’s (the Gentiles) success in having Jesus crucified, God would still say:
“Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:4-6; note this Psalm’s application in Acts 4:24-28).
We honor Jesus as the Christ not by festive events surrounding December 25th, but by heeding His words as God’s Prophet, by taking advantage of His atoning sacrifice as our High Priest and holding fast in our confession of faith to Him, and by submitting to Him as our King.
Jesus is Our Lord
After affirming that God had raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him to reign as King, Peter concluded:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).
When we recognize that Jesus is Lord, our proper response should be “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6). We honor Jesus as our Lord not by worshiping Him as a baby in a nativity scene, but by doing what He says for our life. Jesus said:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21-23).
Jesus still says:
“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46).
Let us use this time of year when so many people are attempting to honor Jesus’ birth to direct their attention to Jesus’ mission as Savior and High Priest to save them from their sins. Let us encourage people to heed the words of Jesus as God’s anointed Prophet and submit to Him as King. Let us attempt to exhort people to focus on their need to teach and practice all things in accordance with His authority as Lord. Let us be more diligent to make certain that we are living according to God’s will so that one day we will enter “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (See 2 Peter 1:2-11).