Who is the baby in the manger? to answer this question, is to answer Advent’s mystery.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Immanuel, meaning God with us, The Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One, Son of the Most High, The Word become flesh, Light of the world – so many big names for such a small baby –
“But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.’ ” (Luke 1:30-33)
The angel told Mary she was to name her baby, Jesus. And so she gave him that name. And what a name it is! Philippians 2:9-11 explains the significance of this name, saying –
“Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The mystery of Advent is answered when I discover the identity of the baby in the manger. By learning this baby’s many names, I learn who He really is. His names reveal to me His true identity. When He was a baby, others spoke His many names. When He could speak for Himself, Jesus said this,
“I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.” (Revelation 22:16)
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty. . . . I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.’ ” (John 6:35 & 51)
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11)
On that adventful night, the angel told the shepherds about the baby in the manger’s birth, saying, “a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) These were just two more names or titles identifying who Jesus is, who He was born to be – both Savior and Lord. The prophet Isaiah really blows the mystery of Advent wide open with his declaration of who this long-expected child is as revealed by His many names and titles.
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Messiah, Anointed One, Son of God, our great high priest (Hebrews 4:14) – each name helps me understand more fully who Jesus is. And then there is this revelation in Revelation (of course) 19:11-13 which identifies Advent’s baby in the manger in a whole new way, reminding me that this baby in the manger grew up to be the man on the cross who died for my sins. (Lamb slain before the foundation of the world – another title) This same Christmas baby is now my Advocate, sitting at the right hand of the Father, making continuous intercession for me and for you, too, dear readers. If that’s not good news, I don’t know what is! So here’s John’s revelation –
“I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. (two more names) With justice He judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on His head are many crowns. He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and His name is the Word of God.”
Of course! the Word of God – that name of Jesus makes perfect sense and reveals His true identity. On that adventful, first Christmas night, John described baby Jesus’s arrival here on earth with these words,
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
Immanuel, God with us! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” (John 1:1-2)
the miracle and the mystery of Christmas Advent – all wrapped up in a manger bed on a cold winter night.
“who is this baby in the manger? that the stars should shine so bright –
who is this baby in the manger? filling the world with His light –
the angels seem to know Him, they tell the shepherds His name –
Wise Men want to worship Him, just look how far they came!
who is this baby in the manger? the Prince of Peace, the Lamb,
He’s the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the great I AM!”
O Come, let us adore Him! Christ the Lord!
sincerely, Grace Day