Many people ask, “What is there to be merry about?” With wars and terrorism, crime at an all-time high, marriages breaking up, drugs—no wonder some people question whether we should say, “Merry Christmas!” Yet it was at such a time that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world some 2,000 years ago. And it will be at such a time that Jesus Christ comes back to this earth.
The angel on that first Christmas night said, “For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11, NKJV). If we believe this, then it makes all the difference in the world for us. Life takes on a new dimension.
There is one particular passage of Scripture in the Old Testament to which I often turn, not only at this time of the year but also at many times other than the Christmas season: “The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined” (Isaiah 9:2, NKJV).
Scripture goes on: “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name 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, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6-7, NKJV).
When these words were uttered by the Prophet Isaiah, prophetic thunders were heard and the lightning of divine vengeance was seen as the clouds of judgment were gathering. With a trumpetlike voice this great statesman-prophet had declared with certainty the calamity which was soon to fall upon Judah as a judgment from God. Judah’s alliance with evil and her departure from God called forth predictions of dreadful disaster. Isaiah had proclaimed with accuracy the Assyrian invasion. All around him were clouds of wrath and desolating darkness.
But Isaiah saw far away at the horizon a rift in the clouds and a clear light shining from heaven. He saw that while the people were walking in darkness, a light also shined upon them. He looked through the next 800 years of time and talked about the “garments rolled in blood” (Isaiah 9:5, NKJV). Then he declared, “Unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV).
There is not a shadow of a doubt in our minds as to whom Isaiah refers in the words “A Child is born. … A Son is given.” He is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. The invasions that Isaiah predicted did take place, but God promised that someday the King would come and set up His Kingdom. The promise given was that God’s covenant with David will stand and that someday a King will sit upon that throne.
Centuries later Jesus asked the religious leaders this question: “‘What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?’ They said to Him, ‘The Son of David'” (Matthew 22:42, NKJV).
Jesus responded: “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”‘? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” (Matthew 22:43-45, NKJV). Jesus was quoting from Psalm 110:1.
The religious leaders were baffled, bewildered and completely silenced. They were not “able to answer him a word” (Matthew 22:46, NKJV). There was a conspiracy to entangle Jesus in this question. But His accusers were frustrated, as they had been many times before. What is the answer to the riddle that the religious leaders could not answer?
The “Child born” establishes the fact of Christ’s humanity. The “Son given” establishes the fact of His deity. Jesus is the God-man.
The “Child born” and the “Son given” is called “Wonderful” because He is wonderful. We must never lose sight of the fact that as a Child He was born, and that as a Son He was given. He is a “Child born” with reference to His human nature and His being born of the virgin. But He is also a “Son given” with reference to His divine nature and His being God’s Son.
The government is to be placed on the shoulders of the infinite Man, not a finite man. We see, therefore, in the “Child born” an infant. But He also is the “Son given.” And so we see in the manger at Bethlehem an infinite Infant.
The Bible says, “Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:5-7, NKJV).
The two uses of the word translated as “form” in these verses refer to the preincarnate and the incarnate existence of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “form” connotes reality.
For Christ to be equal with God was not a thing to be grasped. We do not have here an independent god of rival power and glory but the Christ of God who is as truly and fully divine as the Father is. Here is the New Testament counterpart of the Old Testament revelation of the Messiah. This is the “Child born” and the “Son given.”
“But made Himself of no reputation” (Philippians 2:7, NKJV). The personal pronoun “Himself” is emphatic, bringing before us the voluntary aspect of Jesus’ condescension: “He took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham” (Hebrews 2:16, KJV). Christ swept through the realm of angels to lay hold on the nature of man.
He did not empty Himself of His deity, as some people have suggested, but He left the realm of glory and condescended to earth for our salvation. He emptied Himself of the outward manifestation of the glory of His deity.
There is no doubt that He was the “Child born,” but with equal certainty we need to declare that He was the “Son given.” So when He was here in the flesh, “all the fullness of the Godhead” (Colossians 2:9, NKJV) continued to dwell in Him bodily.
The Bible teaches that “He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NKJV). Jesus shared in our hunger, thirst, weariness and pain. In this way He gave evidence to the reality of His manhood.
The Bible also teaches that “He was crucified in weakness” (2 Corinthians 13:4, NKJV). But we must not think that this weakness implies any incapacity such as ours when we are unable to withstand the onslaught of death. Our weakness is a condition of our frailty. Christ’s was the weakness of a voluntarily accepted capacity for suffering. He voluntarily took on His weakness in the self-emptying when He came to that manger in Bethlehem.
“Unto us a Child is born” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV). He was not born according to the laws and the processes of natural generations. The nature of His birth was supernatural. The “Child born” was born to a virgin: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, NKJV).
But “Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV). Because He is the God-man, He was able to bear our sins on the cross. And God raised Him from the dead as an indication that He had accepted Christ’s atoning work on the cross. He was the only One in the entire universe qualified to bear our sins, and He did it voluntarily.
Therefore, at this Christmas season, with our trust and faith in Christ, we hear the angel saying, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10, NKJV). The psalmist said, “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6, NKJV).
This is the Christmas message to you today. You, too, can appropriate the words to believers, words that are used all the way through the Scriptures: “Fear not, for I am with you” (Isaiah 43:5, NKJV).
A Child was born and a Son was given for our salvation. We have complete assurance that Jesus Christ is not only the Son of Man but also that He is the Son of God. And God has accepted what Jesus did on the cross and in the resurrection for our salvation. We trust in Him–and Him alone–for our forgiveness and for eternal life.