As this particular holiday season comes to a close, multitudes still have the birth of Christ on their minds.
The view in the minds of most is of a newborn baby in a manger as per the account found in Luke’s gospel (Luke 2:7). The event itself was marvelous indeed, for it was the coming of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ (Matt. 1:21; Luke 2:11). However, it was not the infant Jesus that provided salvation for man, but the full grown Jesus that gave His life, shedding His blood on the cross of Calvary. The virgin birth in Bethlehem fulfilled prophecy that the Messiah of the Jews would have to fulfill in order to be the true Messiah (Isa. 7:14; Mic. 5:2). It also afforded Jesus with the ability to come into the world as all men since Adam, born of a woman (Gal. 4:4). Having taken upon Himself the nature of Abraham, a man, He was able to suffer and be tempted just as we are (Heb. 2:16-18).
He was, “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). When Jesus was on the coast of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matt. 16:13). The answers received were not really derogatory, but they still fell far short of just who Jesus really was. He then asked His disciples, “But whom say ye that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). Who do we see when we look to the full grown Jesus?
When we look at Jesus we see the second member of the Godhead. The Godhead consists of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The second member was not always called the Son, but was in the beginning the Word. The apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2). John later specifies who the Word was when he writes, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Not only did the second member of the Godhead exist in the beginning, but He also was instrumental in the creation of all things.
John wrote, “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). When God said, “Let us make man in our own image, after our likeness…” (Gen. 1:26), He was speaking to the Word and to the Holy Spirit. When we realize the Divine nature of Jesus in the beginning, we can much more appreciate the words of Paul when he told the Philippians, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-8).
When we see Jesus, we see the sacrifice that God has made for the sins of man. Since Adam, all mere men have sinned. “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). Sin separates man from God. Isaiah wrote, “…your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Paul said, “For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us” (I Cor. 5:7). In the introduction to the book of Revelation, John wrote that he “…loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev. 1:5). Isaiah, the messianic prophet prophesied of Jesus, saying, “…he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5).
And he further stated, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Isa. 53:10). The Hebrew writer says, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb. 9:28).
When we see Jesus, we had better see Him as He is; the Lord and King of His kingdom. Some look for Jesus to return and set up a physical kingdom on earth and reign over it, but our Lord is already reigning over His kingdom. His kingdom is not a physical one but a spiritual one. He told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). He also stated, “The kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:21). He is reigning now, thus he asks, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). He will reign until the end when he shall deliver the kingdom to the Father (I Cor. 15:24-25).
When we see Jesus, we see the Judge that will judge us at the last day. Jesus came first as the Savior. He will return as the Judge. The apostle Paul told those of Athens that every man needed to repent, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). To the Corinthians Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10).
The Jesus we need to pay the most attention to is not the babe in the manger, but the Son of God who resides in heaven.
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.