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Great Themes of the Bible
This will more resemble a teaching than what I’ve done in the past, but it is probably one the most important doctrine, or theme, that we can study. And as we’re coming up to Christmas, it’s what the Christmas story is all about, and that is God becoming a man, or as Jesus’ name “Emanuel” implies, “God with us.”
The word “incarnation” means the embodiment of God in human flesh. In short, Jesus is both fully God and fully man.
The Scriptures present Jesus as both.
Most famously is in John’s Gospel at the very beginning, where Jesus is referred to as the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, and then how the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14 NKJV)
Those who would argue this doctrine bring out the Scriptures saying that Jesus was “begotten,” and was the “first born.”
We need to understand that the word “begotten” doesn’t mean that He was created, but rather the word means that Jesus was given preeminence.
Consider Isaac, Hebrews says that Isaac was Abraham’s “only begotten son,” Hebrews 11:17. But Abraham had more than one son, specifically Ishmael through Hagar. But Isaac was the son of the promise.
And then there was King David, of it is said that God would make him His firstborn.
“I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:27 NKJV)
Clearly David was the youngest of his family, and so this idea of begin firstborn is to preeminence as it goes on to say that he would be the highest of all kings.
In Revelation it says that Jesus was the “firstborn” from the dead, Revelation 1:5. Yet, we see that Elisha brought back to life the son of the Shunamite woman, 2 Kings 4:8-36. And then there was the young boy Jesus raised from the dead, Luke 7:14. But the most famous was Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, John 11:43-44.
Clearly three had died and been raised from the dead before Jesus, but Jesus was preeminent, and that all who believe in Him shall never die. Jesus made this clear to Martha when He raised Lazarus. He said,
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.” (John 11:25-26 NKJV)
And so Jesus clearly wasn’t created, instead He created everything.
“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:3 NKJV)
Therefore Jesus is Lord and preeminent over life and death.
The fact that He is fully God, while in His human form is seen in several ways.
To the prophet Isaiah the Lord used the name, “Emanuel,” which means God with us, Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:23, and the names “Mighty God,” and “Everlasting Father,” Isaiah 9:6.
The Lord also gave Him the name, “Jehovah Tsidkenu,” or “The Lord our Righteousness,” Jeremiah 23:6. Jesus called Himself by the Holy name of God, “I AM.”
And then you have the titles, “The Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
And so we see that He is all God, but what about being all human at the same time. This is where the doctrine of the virgin birth comes in.
The Virgin Birth
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary … Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:26-27, 34 NKJV)
The virgin birth of Jesus is key in our understanding that Jesus was fully human and fully God. The reason is because if Jesus was born from the line of Adam, He would have been born with the sin nature, and God cannot abide sin, and if there were sin in Jesus, then not only would He not be God, but His sacrifice upon the cross would have been made null and void.
“Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12 NKJV)
If this then is the case, how did Jesus escape the curse, being born to Mary and all? Because while He was born to Mary a virgin, He was conceived by God, the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel went on to say,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35 NKJV)
And so the sin nature, which we all possess from birth, was not found in Jesus, therefore He was without sin, which is confirmed in the Scriptures.
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 NKJV cf. 1 John 3:5)
Because of this, Jesus is Lord and could therefore be that perfect sinless sacrifice, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, John 1:29.
Further, the idea that Mary was not a virgin is something that is brought out by many of those who want to disprove the virgin birth. They take if from the Hebrew word used for “virgin” found in the prophesy of Isaiah 7:14
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14 NKJV)
The word there is used of a young lady, not a virgin, yet, if she had any sexual relationship prior to marriage the law dictated that she would be stoned to death. We see this in Joseph’s thinking of taking Mary to be his wife.
But one step further, look at the Son she would bear, Immanuel, which means God with us.
And so the virgin birth was prophesied and absolutely necessary part for Jesus to be both fully human and fully God.
Let’s take a look at some of these Scriptures speaking of Jesus as fully human and fully God.
“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 NKJV)
But what’s to say that this child that would be born would be God? The names He is given. Not withstanding the name “Immanuel,” God with us, but also He’ll have God very own name, “Mighty God,” and “Everlasting Father.”
Please understand that God is a jealous God, and will not have any other god before or after Himself, nor will He give His name to anyone else.
“You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God … You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 34:14; 20:3NKJV)
“I am the Lord, that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images.” (Isaiah 42:8 NKJV)
And yet to the Messiah the Lord gives His name, not only in our passage speaking of His birth, but also to Who He is.
“In His days Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:6 NKJV)
And so it was that in the fullness of time, God sent forth His Son, who was born of a virgin and under the law, who was none other than the Lord God, the second person of the Godhead.
The Apostle Paul said of Jesus that he was not only before creation, but was the express image of the invisible God, Colossians 1:15-19.
With this in mind, what I’d like to do before time gets totally away from us is to look at the reasons why the incarnation and what it means to all of us.
What this did was bring human understanding about Who God is and the nature of God. It brought a comprehension of an incomprehensible God where we humans can comprehend. (That’s a lot of comprehending)
“Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’” (John 14:9 NKJV)
Jesus came as that example of exactly who God is.
But even more, He came and demonstrated God’s love towards us.
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)
The second thing is that because of the incarnation it
Because God came in the flesh, He could therefore offer the perfect sacrifice, not like the sacrifices offered by the priests, sacrifices that had to be given year in and year out, because the blood of bulls and goats can never take away sin, only cover them.
And so God needed to come down and be that perfect sacrifice for sin.
“‘Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me’ … He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ … By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:5, 9-10 NKJV)
The third thing we see is that because of the incarnation God could finally
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8 NKJV)
God became flesh so that through He might destroy Satan who had the power of death, Hebrews 2:14. And having done so as disarmed and triumphed, according to the Apostle Paul, over principalities and powers, “Colossians 2:13-15.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study