What Were They Thinking at the Manger?

by Robert D Pace

In 800 BC, Isaiah prophesied: “Unto us a child is born; unto us a Son is given.” While Isaiah is known for his literary genius his artful statement is more than poetic elegance. Hidden within this phrase is the proposition that the Messiah would be both a “child” and “son.” What did Isaiah mean? Let’s investigate so we might find clarity.

Months before Christ’s birth the issue had been settled. With their engagement announced, Joseph would take Mary as his wife. But what was Joseph’s response when Mary whispered her conception to him? Was he aggrieved; offended; or vexed? Was he rife with jealously as he listened to “the news”? Regardless of his reaction, it’s important to know this: Whenever God recruits someone into a major aspect of his working, he is also willing to validate his involvement.

Shortly after Mary’s disclosure, God dispatched a holy angel to assure Joseph that Mary’s bosom nourished no ordinary child. And that angelic announcement was enough! He believed, married Mary, and in time tenderly transported her into Bethlehem’s Stable. In full faith, Joseph watched the shepherds worship the Lamb; he witnessed the Wise Men present their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Now Joseph had all the resources he needed to care for Jesus and Mary as they would make their “flight” into Egypt to escape Herod’s sword! This was the beginning of the greatest story ever told!

But let’s go back to the manger. There he was; the Son of God, lying in a manger, with the hosts of heaven ringing his praises! And closest of all, were Mary and Joseph peering at their Lord and Savior.

But did you know that the pondering of Mary and Joseph could not have been more dissimilar? Imagine this: As Mary looked into the manger she thought, “That’s my child.” And she was right! Jesus was “bone of her bone and flesh of her flesh.” However, Joseph’s musing was totally different! “That’s not my child!” he thought. But he too was right, because Jesus was God’s Son—the Son of Jehovah Most High!

And it is here that the mystery of Isaiah’s prophetic pronouncement emerges: From Mary’s bosom “A child is born,”—Jesus is fully human! And from Joseph’s perspective “a Son is given,”—he was conceived of the Spirit and thus, Jesus is fully God!


And this is the Bible’s presentation of the Incarnation—God has become a man!

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