Who is this Child?
Many people celebrate the Christmas holiday looking forward to seeing family and friends, giving and receiving gifts, and pretending about Santa Claus with the children. But have you often stopped to consider the reason for which we celebrate Christmas? The holiday is one of the most important to many of the Western societies. Why is that so?
We enjoy singing many of the old traditional Christmas carols during this time of year. They include Jingle Bells, White Christmas, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, which appeal to our senses and memories. They also include the First Noel, Away in a Manger, Silent Night, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Joy to the World and many others that praise the One for whom this holiday is named. The word Christmas, as many may know, is a compound word composed of ‘Christ’ (literally, the Anointed One or Messiah) and ‘mass’ which speaks of the Roman Catholic liturgical ceremony, which Bible believing christians rejct. Though the actual date of Christ Jesus’ birth is nowhere recorded, western christendom has observed His birth on December 25th of each year.
The birth of Jesus of Nazareth was one that had been anticipated for some 4,000 years. Eve (the first woman) was well acquainted with the fact that God had promised to send a Savior (rescuer, deliverer) to deal a final death blow to the devil, Satan, and so rescue mankind from Satan’s domination. Abraham, around 2000 BC, was promised that this Promised One would be one of his descendants, and that this Savior would be a tremendous blessing to all of the ethnic families and tribes of the earth. (See Gen. 22:17; Gal. 3:16)
God made a covenant promise to King David that the Messiah would be born from one of his descendants. Further, God promised David that this Messiah would reign over the kingdom of Israel, and indeed over all the nations of the earth, forever. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah, as the Servant of the Lord, would give His life in order to save sinful men and women from their sins and iniquity. In fact, Isaiah wrote that He would give His soul as “an offering for sin”.(See Isaiah 53:10)
But how could a mere man be able to accomplish this tremendous task? Indeed, could a mere man even be capable of carrying out this work? The Bible says that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” in Romans 3:23. So if this Savior was to be born a mere man, he too would be a sinner. But was the Baby, Jesus, who was born to the virgin Mary in the town of Bethlehem nearly 2,000 years ago, a mere man? According to the Bible, this Jesus was more than merely a man. True, He was very man, but also He was very God as well.
The Hebrew prophets foresaw the coming of this Savior and revealed in a few places of their writing in the Hebrew Scriptures what is called the “Deity”, or God-Nature, of the Messiah. Micah wrote in Micah 5:2 that His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting”. David wrote that He was “God’s Son” in Psalm 2:7. Isaiah, in Isaiah 9:6, declared the Messiah’s title to be “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” None but the Lord God Himself can wear such a title as this. The prophet Jeremiah called Him “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS (Jer. 23:6).” Clearly, even the Old Testament writers saw before hand the fact that this Promised One would be more than merely a mortal man. Truly they saw that He would also be very much the Lord God who would take upon Himself the form of a man.
Such a God-Man, to accomplish His work, would have to be fully man, while also being fully free from sin in His body and soul and spirit. The prophet Isaiah saw this over 700 years before the birth of Jesus in Isaiah 7:14 when he wrote ‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (God in our midst or God with us)’. Because Adam, the first man committed an act of rebellion against the Lord God, who had created him, he ushered sin into God’s created world. Because all men and women are descendants of Adam, we have inherited through our genetic makeup the same nature as Adam. We are sinners by nature, as well as by action.
But God had a plan that would allow His Son to become fully man, and yet still be free from both the sin nature of mankind and the actions of sinning which all other members of Adam’s family possess and perform. Since Adam passed sin to us, through his seed, God would have His Son, Jesus the Messiah, be born of the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15; Gal. 4:4) That is, Jesus would not have a mere man to be His father. Mary, never having had sexual relations, became the mother of Jesus prior to consummation of her marriage to Joseph. The Spirit of God, by a miraculous work, brought about the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary apart from the normal procreative sexual act of a man and woman. (Matt. 1:18)
So, Jesus became a true man — but apart from sin — while still being true God. He would be able to carry out the work of His Father, God. And He would be able to fully experience manhood while performing His work of redeeming (paying the price, obtaining the property, and taking it away from its former condition) mankind from the control of Satan, and from the destructive consequences of sin and rebellion against the Lord God who created us.
It is plain now who this Child was. He was very much a newborn boy who would grow to be a true man. He is the Promised One who would crush the head of Satan (Gen. 3:15) and destroy his impact upon the earth at His second coming. He is the “Anointed One” of God who was marked out as the most unique person in the history of the world. He is the awaited Lamb of God who was born to die on the cross at Calvary, to take the sins of the world upon His body, and so pay the price for the consequences of those sins. He is the death-conquering Savior who rose up literally alive from the dead and conquered sin and death once and for all time, so that men and women could live a life free from the slavery that sin and death maintain in this world. He is the Prince of Peace who would bring peace to those whom He saved, during their lifetimes; and eternal peace upon earth when He comes the second time to establish His earthly reign on His father David’s throne. He is God the Son who loved us so much that He would lay aside the tremendous glory and majesty that attended Him in heaven and then become a man, a servant, who would obediently give His life to death, so that we could receive His life for eternity. This is who this Child is.