The Son of God is lying in a manger. The eternal Sovereign in his human nature is placed where animals received their food. So obviously we see here an amazing display of humility. Paul reminds us of this when he speaks in the well-known passage in Philippians 2 about the Son of God who ‘emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men’ (Phil. 2:7). Many a king had visited Israel, but none had come with such humility.
Moreover, as we look at the infant, we see one who is helpless. The eternal Word cannot say anything with his tongue at that moment, although we must always remember that he has never ceased to be God upholding all things. Still he is totally dependent on the adults surrounding him. Did adults pass him to one another as they listened to what was told them by the shepherds? How helpless the Saviour from heaven seemed!
Referring to humility and helplessness reminds us of the genuineness of the humanity that Jesus had at his birth. We have to understand how God became man doctrinally, and how in his one person there now was now a divine nature and a human nature. Of course, we have to respond to this reality devotionally, making sure that his becoming man does not only intrigue our minds, but that our hearts are also affected since he became human out of love for his people. And we must remind ourselves that his humanity will develop through different stages as he grows in age and stature.
Again, as we consider the infant in the manger, we see the heir of all things. The author of Hebrews begins his letter by saying that the Father had appointed his Son as the heir, through whom he made the worlds. But his inheritance, his creation, had been marred by sin and was not now a suitable place for him. Yet he had not abandoned it. Instead he had come to recover the inheritance for himself and his people. As we look at the manger, there we see the heir, the redeemer who will go to the cross.
The birth of the Saviour brought hope to those who had some grasp of what was taking place. Luke mentions people like Mary and Joseph, the parents of John the Baptist, the shepherds, Simeon and Anna, and others who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. No doubt, some understood more than the others, and perhaps none of them at that time knew what we, who have the complete Bible, know. Still, the coming of the Light of the world had reminded them that God’s incredible promises in the Old Testament about salvation would be fulfilled. And therefore, hope was strengthened.