Luke 2:11-12 “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Take a moment to contemplate the names and titles the angel gives to Jesus: Savior, Christ, and Lord. “Savior” is more than a nice name. It makes of Jesus more than a great role model. The Savior is the one who rescues us. Our lives have been spared from certain death.
“Christ” identifies this child as God’s own chosen one to be our Savior. He is the “Anointed One,” just as kings, priests, and prophets were anointed to serve God’s people in Old Testament times. All Israel was waiting for the one great “Anointed One” God promised to send as their Savior. This title identified Jesus as the fulfillment of that promise.
A “Lord” has power and authority. Jesus, however, is not just “a” Lord. He is “the” Lord. This title touches on his divinity. He is the God in whose hands our lives and all things rest and on whose power we and all people depend.
Does this sound like someone you want or need? Maybe we would prefer to save ourselves, if there is any saving to be done. Maybe, like so much of our world, we are tempted to believe that we must save ourselves. It is too risky to trust our fate into someone else’s hands.
Maybe experience has led us to see that saving ourselves is a hopeless proposition. In spite of my efforts to stop sinning, I don’t. I still want what sin offers, even when I don’t act on it. At the level of our thoughts and feelings, and too often at the level of our behavior, we are thoroughly corrupted by sin. Could we ever set ourselves right with God?
And how long can we stave off death? How many friends and family members do we know that are alive only because medical technology has kept them here? But eventually the doctor and the medicine will fail. We are all going to die, and we can’t stop it. We need a Savior.
We also need a Lord, someone else to be in control. When I try to run things, I only get into trouble. So much of life is more than I can handle on my own. I need someone much bigger, and more powerful, who can see the big picture, do the right thing, and actually get things done.
We need the certainty that this person can be trusted. Politicians disappoint us with their failed promises. Salesmen disappoint us with their failed products. We need someone with a proven track record, a heavenly seal of approval, and that is exactly what we have in the Christ. He bears the heavenly Father’s own stamp of authenticity.
Where do we find him? “You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Here is an astounding contrast: Jesus’ heavenly identity and his earthly humility. The Lord and ruler of all the universe, the Savior of mankind, is not sitting on a golden throne in heaven, or even in an earthly palace, but now a baby lying in a manger, in a smelly animal shelter.
He entered our world as a baby at a time when there were no neo-natal units in the hospital full of life-saving equipment, before there were immunizations to ward off life-threatening childhood diseases, before there were antibiotics or sulfa drugs or baby monitors or even so much as a baby aspirin. He was born, not in a hospital, or a house, nor the relative safety and cleanliness of a car, but in a stable where animals ate and slept. Our Savior, our Lord, our Christ put his life at risk by becoming a little baby and entering our dangerous world in a stable.
What started as a danger would end in death on a cross. Strips of cloth and prickly hay would give way to stripes from a whip and piercing nails. All this to make good on the angel’s promise, “a Savior has been born to you,” a Savior from sin and death. This contrast between heavenly Savior and lowly manger only grows as he moves from stable, to cross, to tomb.