MYSTERY IN A MANGER
Terry R. Baughman
“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” (Isaiah 9:6).
The excitement over a newborn is electric. From the moment a woman confirms she is pregnant she can hardly wait to share the news with her family and friends. With modern technology many will learn the gender of their child long before the day of birth. Some choose to have a gender-reveal party where the balloons, cake, punch, or some other colored display will confirm the sex of the expected newborn. Along with the revelation, some begin to identify the child by the name that has been chosen for the unborn. Others do not wish to know the sex of their child and prefer to wait until birth for the moment of revelation. These parents may have chosen a name for both a boy and a girl. Prior to ultra-sound and other technological advances everyone waited for birth to determine the revelation and most chose to announce the chosen name after the child was born.
The birth of Jesus was certainly an exception. Long before the necessary science to determine the sex and characteristics of a child before birth, an angel appeared to Mary declaring that she was highly favored of the Lord and predicted, “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus” (Luke 1:31). Shortly afterward, the angel informed Joseph about Mary’s conception, “She will bring forth a Son,” and was also given instructions on the name of choice, “You shall call His name Jesus.” A grand mission also accompanied this shocking announcement, “He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). To Mary the prophecy was given, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:32–33).
Finally, the name was revealed. For many centuries the prophets predicted the advent of the coming of Messiah, the anointed redeemer of God’s plan, but He was never identified by name. He was identified by many characteristics: Wonderful, counselor, prince of peace, lily of the valley, and rose of Sharon were some of them. His Deity was declared: The Mighty God, the everlasting Father, Immanuel, the Lord of Hosts, and many others. But, when any would ask for His name it was proclaimed to be a secret.
Jacob wrestled with an angel and asked for his name, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” (Genesis 32:29). He didn’t answer, but He blessed him. Manoah received a promise from the Angel of the Lord concerning the birth of Sansom and asked to know his name, “Why do you ask My name, seeing it is wonderful?” (Judges 13:18).
Special significance was given to His name because of His purpose, His person, and His power. His purpose was revealed in that He came to Save, “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). His person in that, “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9–11). Jesus was exalted in power, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21).
The special name kept secret from the beginning of time was revealed to a humble servant of God, a highly favored virtuous young maiden, and her promised partner to whom she was engaged, a carpenter in the small village of Nazareth in Israel. The fullness of time had come. Mysteries were being explained and secrets were being revealed. At the time of His birth in a stable in Bethlehem, angels again appeared to shepherds at night and announced, “There is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:11). The Savior was born! Christ had come! Jesus was revealed and His name was made known!
“Great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16).