O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Christ's First Coming: Who Lies in the Manger?
Christ's First Coming: Who Lies in the Manger?
Based on Isaiah 11:1-11
Preached on Dec. 3, 2014 Midweek 1
Fellow baptized saints, have you ever watched a newborn baby sleeping? The calm, deep breathing reveals a quiet and peaceful heart. This baby will have plenty of time to discover the trouble of this world, but for now there is no trouble. Now there is rest. As we look on a resting infant, the child's face often reflects the mother and father. The composed features of young children may tell us whom they favor. I'm happy to say, both of my kids were blessed to receive the features of their mother.
Jesus had the features of His mother, Mary. Yet this does not tell us who He is. Jesus' physical appearance tells us only of His human heritage through David, though this is extremely important. But only God could tell us who the Child Jesus is. Our theme hymn states, "The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head." Dear God, tell us, who sleeps in the manger? What Child is this?
The Child lying in the manger is true God, begotten of the Father from eternity. He is my Lord. He is begotten in such a way that His birth of the Father has neither beginning nor end. He is never more nor less than fully God, even though His soft infant flesh lies in the manger. The Father has declared this baby is His only Son, and the Spirit has agreed.
Only God can declare who this Child is to us, and through the Word, the Holy Spirit makes us know that this tender little boy should be called the Son of the Most High. God Himself tells us that the Child lying in the manger is God. And this little Child shall lead us.
This Child - will judge - with righteousness. But this statement sends a tremor of fear through sinful hearts. How will I stand in this judgment? How could I even show my face? But the righteousness promised here is not the perfect standard that exposes your wickedness before God. It is not the righteousness that you don't live up to. This righteousness is actually given to you. It is a gift. This righteousness is found in this helpless child, who has been born to give you His own righteousness. The righteousness you don't have – the righteousness you need – has come down to you in the soft infant flesh of this baby boy, who will become the sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Because of the death and resurrection of Christ, God declares you free from the burden of your sins. And when God declares it – it is so, even as He has declared this Jesus to be His Son. When God declares you righteous in His sight, you are righteous because of Christ. This Child - lying in the manger - says who you are.
The Child who lies in the manger will be faithful. He is the seed promised to Eve, even from the fall in the garden. "O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You; I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure." The little Child will be faithful where all the strength of man fails. The little Child will be faithful where grown Adam was not. How embarrassing for us that where human might does not prevail, the weakness of this Child can and does.
The Son is faithful to His Father. The Child will reveal His Father's gracious will for poor sinners, and Jesus will lay down His sweet head on the pillow of suffering for which His Father sent Him. "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own authority, but speak just as the Father has taught Me." Jesus is also faithful to us and to our need. Those who have been brought near to the mountain of Christ's Church will be fully protected by Him. Those who believe will be rescued from "every evil of body and soul." God is faithful, and He will do it.
The Child lying in the manger is also true man, born of the Virgin Mary. His human generation is by way of the house of Judah. Through His birth of Mary, the Christ is the Son of David according to the flesh. The Child lying in the manger has taken our flesh of a true human mother. His bones and sinews were knit together in her womb, just as each of us was formed in our mother's womb. Bone of our bones and flesh of our flesh. Look upon the Child in the manger. How weak the Christ Child appears, sleeping on His mother's breast. Here is human glory cut down to size. Here is God's glory humbly dwelling under the form of humanity. God has revealed His divine glory in human humility.
The Child puts His hand in the hole of the viper. He comes to be stung, but will crush the serpent's head on the cross. He comes to take from the serpent, though He will be filled with venom to do it. The Child is not afraid.
The Child brings a new nature, a new Eden - enmity replaced with peace and harmony. Paradise restored - in the tender flesh of this sleeping infant. The birth of all in the birth of One. Away with the ravenous beasts who rip and tear, away in a manger, the beast-trough made crib.
Who is this Child lying in the manger? He is the LORD of hosts. The true God. Yet for your sake and mine, all His hosts of angels were made to look down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr