Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Christmas: Christ Equals God in Flesh

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas: Christ Equals God in Flesh

“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS” (Matthew 1:18-25).

This is the time of year when Christians regularly read the various gospel accounts of the birth of Jesus. In Luke 2:10, when the angel said “behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people,” the words “good tidings” are translated from the Greek word euaggelizo (yoo-ang-ghel-id'-zo). Twenty-three times in the N. T. that word is translated “preach” and twenty-two times it is translated “preach the gospel.” It is the word from which we get the word evangelize. It means to proclaim glad tidings regarding the instruction to people concerning the things that pertain to salvation offered in the Person of Jesus Christ. The angelic announcement to the shepherds of Bethlehem sets the stage for the pattern for all Christians. The Shepherds immediately began to communicate the angelic message.

“17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds” (Luke 2:17-18).

The words “they made known abroad” are from the Greek word diagnorizo (dee-ag-no-rid'-zo), which is the derivative of the Greek word graptos (grap-tos') meaning written and gnorizo (gno-rid'-zo), which means to make known. Therefore, we can conclude these were educated men (probably priests watching over sacrificial lambs) who recorded the angelic message on parchment and sent it to be read in the synagogues wherever a synagogue existed. Any celebration of the birth of Jesus demands that we too communicate the “glad tidings” of the birth of the Savior Who is Christ the Lord.

Matthew 1:18 says, “Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise.” The details of Jesus’ birth are significant to the “gospel.” It is important that we carefully consider the details of the birth of Jesus lest we begin to take these truths for granted. We hear these truths so often that they become mundane to us and no longer have the impact on us the way they should. As Luke 2:18 says, “And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.” The word “wondered” is from the Greek word thaumazo (thou-mad'-zo) meaning to marvel at something in amazement. That is the impact the message of the birth of Jesus should always have on each of us whenever we hear it.

In order for us to maintain the wonder and amazement that should surround the story of the birth of Jesus, we need to take our focus away from nativity scene, beyond Mary and Joseph and, beyond the wise men with their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The story of the birth of Jesus will not continue to amaze us unless we look beyond the human events to see the spiritual realty of Who Jesus is and what He sacrificed in order to be born as this little baby in the manger of Bethlehem.

Matthew 1:23 tells us that the parents of Jesus were instructed to “call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”

The first thing we need to remember and consider about the birth of Jesus is that He is God in human flesh. Apart from that reality, the birth of Jesus is little more than the birth of another great prophet of God. Jesus is much more than that. Jesus is God in human flesh intent to die to pay the sin penalty for all mankind. That truth should amaze us.

“5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:5-11).

There are some amazing truths regarding the incarnation. In Philippians 2:6, the word “form” is translated from the Greek word morphe (mor-fay'), which means the external appearance by which a person or thing strikes the vision. When the eternal Son of God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, stepped out of the glories of Heaven, He stepped into the curse of fallen mankind. That should amaze us.

He stepped out of the “form” He had as God and stepped into the “form” of humankind. According to Philippians 2:7, He took the “form” of humankind the same way each of us began by conception and birth. Deity was united in humanity. That should amaze us.

Also, Philippians 2:7 tells us that the eternal Son of God choose to be born as a “servant.” Although he was the King of Heaven, He was born a carpenter’s son with the intent to be the servant model of what all Christians are to be. When we think of that fact, we should stand with our mouths open in utter amazement.

The birth of Jesus as one of humankind eternally united the Godhead with mankind. That incomprehensible and unfathomable truth should completely amaze us.

We do not comprehend the utter amazement of this truth because we do not understand the enormous difference between Who God is and who we are. It is the natural tendency for us to create God in our image.

When we think of God, we tend toward anthropomorphisms; the attributing of human shape or characteristics to God. When we think of God as wise, we tend to think of Him as a white haired, old men who has accumulated years of eternal wisdom. Of course, that is totally inconsistent with Scripture. That would mean God has evolved into Who He is. God has always been and always will be the same.

“For I am the LORD, I change not. . .” (Malachi 3:6a).

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).

Who and What God is, is far beyond the human imagination. There is nothing to compare Him to or with because He is unique. Therefore, the sacrifice involved in the uniting of God in humanity is almost impossible to illustrate.

Years ago, our family was vacationing around the Gulf of Mexico. We were driving along the coast of Texas heading for Louisiana. We stopped one night just before dusk to walk along the beach and pick up seashells. We had parked our car and had walked a considerable distance from it when the Sun started to go down. As the Sun began to set, swarms of mosquitoes came out of the grass and began to attack us.

The mosquitoes covered us. As we ran back to the car, they filled our ears. When we breathed, they went up our noses and into our mouths. They bit through our cloths. When we opened the car doors to escape them, they filled the car. All we could think about was to slap them and kill them. We killed mosquitoes for the next hundred miles.

Compared to God, we are less then mosquitoes. Psalms 8:4 says, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” When those mosquitoes began to swarm and bite, I never once thought about whether or not they had eternal souls (they do not). I never once thought about becoming a mosquito so I could better identify with their trials, temptations and problems. I certainly never thought about becoming a mosquito (even if that were possible) so that I might die for the mosquitoes so they would not be condemned.

Human beings have such a sense of self-importance. Compared to God, we are less then what mosquitoes are compared to us. Yet, God loves each one of us so much He was willing to be born as one of us to take our death sentence for sin upon Himself and die in our place so that we might be saved from an eternal Hell and that we might be glorified and live with Him eternally. (Now read Philippians 2:9-11 again focusing on the word “should.”)

“9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father”

Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Jehoshua. It means Jehovah is our Savior.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).

The Son of God stepped out of His glory as God to become a man in order to save us. The moment He was conceived in the womb of Mary, He was condemned to die on the Cross of Calvary. He knew that before He ever stepped out of His glory. Yet, He did not selfishly cling to His glory as God. Because He loves us, He became a man to take our death sentence upon Himself and to pay our “wages of sin.” Every time we say or hear the Name Jesus, we should think of all of this and we SHOULD bow our knee to Him; we SHOULD confess that He is LORD before men.

The Name Jesus immediately connects the manger to the Cross.

“16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:16-19).

According to John 3:19, men would rather hide in the darkness of sin then come into the “light” of God’s glory and truth because in that “light” they will see themselves for what they really are; mosquitoes at enmity with God deserving utter destruction. God loves us. He has shown us this reality through His incarnation, life, death and resurrection. What an insult it is to God for people to misrepresent Who Jesus is and reject His free gift of salvation. It is an insult to God’s love when we allow the celebration of His birth to be replaced with Santa Claus, Christmas trees and blue light specials.

About 2,000 years ago, the Son of God stepped out of His exalted, eternal glory to become a man in order to be our Saviour. He was born to die a criminal’s death on a cruel Cross, on a lonely hill outside of the city of Jerusalem. The eternal Son of God became a man to open the door for all men to become children of God.

“2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (I John 3:2-3).

“11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:11-12).

His Name is Jesus. To “believe on His Name” means to believe, trust and rely on every fundamental truth that His Name represents. Jesus is the incarnate Son of God eternally united with humanity. He has completely paid the penalty for every sin you have ever committed or ever will commit. Turn from your sin, your religious rituals and your attempts at self righteousness and turn to the living God incarnate in human flesh, dead, buried, risen and coming again.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3a).

“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven” (Hebrews 12:25).

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