While decorating for Christmas today, I set up our nativity scene. As I held the baby Jesus in my hands, I asked myself, “Who does this hand carved baby truly symbolize?” I took time to delve into scripture to answer my question.
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.
This complete verse is an amazing answer to my question, but I want to focus upon two simple words within the verse: CHILD and SON.
The first fact Isaiah points out is that the One who is born is a child. This is a generic description of a human baby. This fact does not distinguish Jesus from any other baby who is given life. He is an infant who requires all of his needs to be fulfilled by another human being, most likely his mother or father. He cries when he is hungry or needs to have his diaper changed. He fills a special place in the arms of his mother who lovingly holds him.
The next word tells me that Jesus is a son. Here is the first specific thing I learn about this child. He is a boy, not a girl. Back in Bible times, a son was given higher status in the family than a daughter. A father took great pride in a boy who would carry on the lineage and heritage of his family.
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
We learn a little more about this baby boy born to Mary in the gospel of Luke. This time period in history was before ultrasound technology that allows us to know the sex of the baby before the actual birth. Yet, Mary knew she would have a boy because of the words spoken to her by an angel. She also learned that her baby would be the Son of God rather than the son with a human biological father. The wooden figurine that I hold in my hand represents a unique baby unlike any other baby ever born or conceived. He is God’s Son!
And suddenly a voice came from heaven saying,
“This My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
When John the Baptist baptized Jesus, these are the words proclaimed by God stating that Jesus was not only His Son, but His beloved Son. God loved His Son and was pleased with Him. As I place the hand carved piece of wood shaped like a baby into our nativity scene, these scriptures from Luke and Matthew assure me that Mary and God are the mother and father of this special child, Son of Man and Son of God. It is incredible for me to think about Mary holding God in her arms.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 NKJV
I want to think a little more about the description of Jesus being God’s begotten son. Begotten comes from the Greek work “monogenes” that distinguishes Jesus as being uniquely God’s Son. Jesus has the same divine nature as God. In contrast, we as believers are God’s sons and daughters by adoption according to Ephesians 1:5 NLT, “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” From this perspective, I can say that Jesus is God’s “one and only” Son. However, God not only loved Jesus, but He loves all the people of the world. He loves us so much that He allowed Jesus, whom He loved, to die so that we might live eternally. Each one of us can be a child of Our Heavenly Father, whether born physically as a boy or a girl. In a sense, the baby Jesus who I place in the manger of our nativity represents the potential for each of us to be in that manger as well.
I like the following quote from an article I read online at gotQuestions?org, “The bottom line is that terms such as “Father” and “Son,” descriptive of God and Jesus, are human terms that help us understand the relationship between the different Persons of the Trinity. If you can understand the relationship between a human father and a human son, then you can understand, in part, the relationship between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity.” This helps me to comprehend who is portrayed by the figurine of Jesus within our crèche.
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you;
he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Here is another description of the carved wooden baby that I fingered with my hands earlier today. It amazes me to think about Mary holding God in her arms! It is incredible that God would plan for His beloved, begotten Son to be born as Son of God and Son of Man and for Him to then die so we could be born again to new life in Christ. He is God’s Son whom God the Father gave to all humans on earth as a gift. His magnitude is beyond any figure depicted within our nativity scene. My Reader, please do not limit Jesus to just being a baby whose birth we celebrate at Christmas!