A crèche is a manger scene, a nativity, which many people display at Christmas. What’s in your crèche’s manger this Christmas? Does your nativity scene remind you and those who visit your home that God sent a Savior to redeem us from our sins? Jesus did enter this world as a baby—just like the infant depicted in most manger scenes. However, the crèche does not display our Savior’s astounding résumé. Before the Spirit of God conceived His humanity within Mary’s womb, Jesus qualified uniquely to be our Lord and our Redeemer. As the Son of God He had already acted as the Logos (the Word) and the Light of the world. And, at His birth He came to be the Lamb of God—not a pet lamb with which children might play, but a lamb slain as a sacrifice. The first chapter of the Gospel of John reveals these three roles that the Son of God filled in order to fulfill Bible prophecies.
Behold, the Logos!
In the beginning was the Word [Logos] and the Word [Logos] was with God, and the Word [Logos] was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:1–3 NASB)
John identifies the Logos (“the Word”) as the person of the Godhead who spoke all things into existence in Genesis 1. Later in his Gospel he confirms that identification:
And the Word [Logos] became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
The apostle Paul’s witness echoes this same truth:
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. (Colossians 1:16)
Before the humanity of Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary, the Son of God had created all things. The Creator Himself came to the earth that He created in order to live among the humanity He had created. The Logos became flesh. Indeed, the baby in the Bethlehem manger is none other than the Lord of the universe, the all-powerful Creator—the Logos. As we celebrate Christmas, we should seek to understand that amazing fact. Jesus was more than a human infant at the time of His birth. “In the beginning” He had created all things. He had already exercised the greatest of powers by creating the universe and all life. Everyone should worship the baby, because He is their Creator. The crèche cannot depict this very important truth.
Behold, the Light!
In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not comprehend it. (John 1:4–5)
As the Creator, the Logos created life—the Light of mankind. As the true Light He not only gives life to mankind, He also illumines their spiritual darkness. The prophet Isaiah prophesied that
The people who walk in darkness
Will see a great light;
Those who live in a dark land,
The light will shine on them. (Isaiah 9:2)
In the preceding verse, Isaiah described Israel’s Galilee region as a place of spiritual darkness (Isaiah 9:1). Yet, God chose to send His Son (“the Light of the world,” John 8:12) into such a place to live as a child, grow to manhood, and preach the gospel to sinners. We do not tend to seek the darkest areas for spiritual service, but our Savior went to the darkest of regions among His people—a place filled with idolatry. By choosing to settle in Capernaum, Jesus continued to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy (see Matthew 4:12–17). He came to earth to be the Light.
Before the Logos created the sun (Genesis 1:14–18), He Himself became earth’s first light (Genesis 1:3). He was the Light; He is the Light (John 8:12); and, He will be the Light (Revelation 21:23). As the true Light, He gives life both physically and spiritually. As the true Light, He grants life everlasting to those who “become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12).
Yes, that baby depicted in your crèche’s manger had already shown the Light of God’s glory from creation all the way down to the time of His birth. Every appearance of God in the Old Testament—from the garden of Eden onward—consisted of the personal presence of the Son of God, because
No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. (John 1:18)
How do you show the Light of the world in that crèche? A light bulb would be a poor substitute, wouldn’t it?
Behold, the Lamb!
The next day he [John the baptizer] saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
Abraham told his son Isaac that “God will provide for Himself the lamb” of sacrifice as a substitute for Isaac (Genesis 22:8). God later instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb at Passover (Exodus 12:21–27; see also Matthew 26:3 and 1 Corinthians 5:7). Later still, the prophet Isaiah described the Messiah as “a lamb that is led to slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7). These are but a few of the biblical texts that foreshadow and predict that Jesus would fulfill the prophecies regarding God’s sacrificial Lamb.
Therefore, John the Baptist’s declaration (John 1:29) does not surprise any student of the Scriptures. However, the Scriptures amaze even long-time believers with the frequency and the significance of the title “Lamb of God.” Perhaps you noted that Revelation 21:23 attributes the light of God in the New Jerusalem to “the Lamb.” The title “Lamb” for Jesus occurs thirty times in the Book of Revelation—over three times as often as any other title for Jesus—a testimony to the significance of this name.
Are there any shepherds in your crèche? When the angel appeared to the shepherds, they were caring for the Passover flocks in the Judean hills near Bethlehem. The angel told them that the baby in the manger would be their Savior (Luke 2:11). They left their flocks and approached the manger (Luke 2:15–16). How fitting that the shepherds of the Passover flocks should be the first to come see for themselves and to spread the good news of Messiah’s birth (Luke 2:17–20). The baby in the manger was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world”!
Look again at your crèche. Does it include a lamb? Perhaps you should take the figure of the baby out of the manger and place that lamb in the manger. It will generate questions from your children, other family members, and guests. Your answer can include the fact that Jesus, the Logos of God and the Light of mankind, came to be God’s sacrificial Lamb. This Christmas, in the spirit of John 1, worship the Logos, draw near to the Light, and praise the Lamb.