Matthew 1:18 (She was Found with Child Through the Holy Spirit)

Matthew 1:18
She Was Found with Child Through the Holy Spirit

As we celebrate this day, just as we do each year, let us remember that it isn’t a day which is founded on myths or superstitions. It may have devolved into that for most of the world, but that was never its original intent.

It has become common for people to find fault in all the assorted things we do at Christmas. We put up pine trees, and someone finds fault in the symbolism. We hang up ornaments, and someone finds fault in our doing so. Even the word “Christmas” is there for people to find fault in.

And it is true, that we should never let these customs and traditions obscure our vision of what this day actually symbolizes, but even the fault finders are to be found at fault over that. The day has real significance, and it has the greatest of importance. And so, whether traditionalist or fault-finder, most of us have never understood the true connection to the meaning of the 25th of December.

It is, in fact, the day that Christ was born, but not in the sense that most people understand. People in Korea would, but for most of the rest of the world, there is little comprehension of the day’s meaning.

You see, Korean people reckon the span of their lives differently than we do. When you ask how old they are, they will tell you an age that is different than what we are used to. I was born on 18 August 1964, and so I would be, as of today, 52 years, 4 months, and a couple of days old.

But a Korean would tell you they were 53 years old. The reason for this is that they reckon life from conception, not birth out of the womb. To the liberal left in the western world, that thought would be utterly scandalous. How can you justify killing someone in the womb if their life had actually already begun. The horror of the thought for them would certainly drive their bloodthirsty minds to madness!

But this is when life begins, whether the left likes that or not. The Koreans got it right. It is a moment to celebrate and to cherish. It is a time of light and happiness. It is the beginning of the time of our life. Our text verse today is Isaiah 7:14 –

Text Verse: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”

Seven hundred years before the coming of Christ, Isaiah said that something unimaginable would occur. A virgin would conceive and bear a Son. The two things are separate and yet complementary events. First she would conceive, and then she would have a Son. One follows logically after the other.

But in the normal course of events, the first would be impossible. A virgin simply cannot get pregnant. People argue over the Hebrew word that Isaiah used which we translate as “virgin,” claiming that it doesn’t necessarily have to mean “virgin.”

However, the context necessarily demands it, the Greek translation of the Old Testament supports that fact, and Matthew’s use of a word which can only mean “virgin” settles it. The virgin would become pregnant, and the Child would be called Immanuel – God with Us. The verse itself then tells us when life begins. It is not as the child leaves the womb, but when the womb is impregnated. The word “virgin” explains the matter.

As Isaiah wrote, he may or may not have had any idea what he was writing, but if he did, his mind surely went back to the first pages of the Bible where a promised Deliverer would come who was the Seed of the woman. When speaking of genealogies, it is always the seed of man which is referred to. But in Genesis 3, it is the Seed of the woman.

Whether Isaiah realized the importance of the words he penned or not, we can and should realize them. We who have the whole story penned out for us can see the whole picture. It is a picture clearly revealed in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Spark of Life

Much has been said of both the Deity and the Humanity of Jesus Christ – on both sides of the debate. There are those who believe that He is fully God and fully Man. There are those who believe He is God, but was never really a Man. There are those who believe He is a Man, but is not God. There are those who believe He is not God and that even His manhood is just a made up fable – in other words, He never even existed. And then there are those who just don’t care.

Within those views, there are more divisions – He was both a Man and God for a spell, but now is only God; He became God after being only a Man; and so, on and so on. And yet, if we take the Bible simply and at face value, even from the few words of the one verse which comprises the sermon’s title, we can really only come to one conclusion. Matthew 1:18 says

εὑρέθη ἐν γαστρὶ ἔχουσα ἐκ πνεύματος ἁγίου –
heurethe en gastri ekhousa ek pneumatos agiou
“She was discovered in womb holding from Spirit Holy.”

Two things must be admitted here from a simple reading of the Bible. One is that Mary is a human and this Child is the product of her womb, and thus this Child is a human being. The second is that the Holy Spirit is not a human.

If one then accepts the obvious interpretation of Scripture which shows that the Holy Spirit is God, then the Child is the product of God. There is no human father, and it is the seed of the father that determines lineage in the Bible, thus this Child is Deity – He is the Son of God.

Of course, there are those who will do anything possible to diminish the Deity of the Holy Spirit because by doing so they can then tear apart the central message of the Bible. However, this stupidly-argued premise is for a debate which is unnecessary here. The Holy Spirit, in both testaments of the Bible, is clearly defined as God and is easily defended as such, and so we will overlook that as unnecessary here.

What we have in these few words, which are so quickly passed over by our eyes and our minds, is a description of the most incredible occurrence which has ever come to pass – in all of time. Not just in human history, but in all of time itself. The very creation of the universe pales in comparison to what is described by the words heurethe en gastri ekhousa ek pneumatos agiou – “She was found with Child through the Holy Spirit.”

When God created, He created not out of Himself – ex Deo, or “out of God.” God is Spirit and is not limited to that which is created. Rather, when He created, it was ex nihilo or “out of nothing.” The psalms say –

“For He spoke, and it was done;
He commanded, and it stood fast.” Psalm 33:9

There was nothing. No time, no space, no matter – only God. And by the power of the spoken word, there was then something. Time began, matter stood firm, and space filled the void – both around matter and within it. Everything that we see, even to the farthest reaches of the universe, came into existence at that one moment. It is an incredible thing to contemplate, but it was of far less moment than the enormity of what occurred in the womb of Mary.

In a flash as brief as the utterance of the word of creation itself, life – the true Life of all things – sprung into existence in her womb. And yet, it was life that always existed, even before the creation of our physical realm! What a paradox, and yet what an event of the greatest marvel of all. God had united with His creation in that blessed womb – Christ had come.

Just this past year, in April, it was published that science has discovered that at the very moment of conception, a bright flash of life marks this incredible event. There is darkness in the womb, and then there is a flash of light. For Mary, there was darkness in her womb, and then there was the Light. The Light of the world had come. God stepped into our darkness and revealed Himself!. Imagine it – try to get your mind around that.

That which brought all things into existence by a mere utterance… the light of ten trillions sons, and the light of the candle on the Christmas tree, even the light of the phosphorous creatures of the deepest oceans… and all other lights that our eyes will ever behold – even for infinite days ahead – these combined are not as bright as the Light which created them… this same Light sparked in the womb of Mary. heurethe en gastri ekhousa ek pneumatos agiou – “She was found with Child through the Holy Spirit.” The Christmas Child had come.

Who can believe such a thing! Who could have imagined it in times past, and who can grasp it now that it has happened! And yet the words testify to the event. The Light has come in a form that we can experience, feel, interact with, and rely upon. In this Light, there is no darkness, and thus there is no fear.

This marvelous event is that which occurred on that cold December day in the land of Israel. We celebrate the 25th of December as the day of Christ’s birth, and it is. It is just not the birth out of the womb. Rather, the Bible points to this date as the birth within the womb.

And not without significance, this is the same time of year that the Jewish Festival of Lights, Hanukah, is celebrated. At times, the two events occur on the same day. Such is the case this year. This is probably what occurred that year as well. The Light of the world came into the world on that same Festival of Lights. This day is mentioned in the book of John, chapter 10, and the 22nd verse, where it is known as the Feast of Dedication –

“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter.”

It got its name from the time of the Maccabees when the temple which had been defiled was cleansed and restored to proper worship. Because of this great event, it was memorialized and held annually. A later tradition concerning a day’s worth of oil lasting eight days is merely a fable recorded in the Talmud. But Flavius Josephus tells us the reason for the annual event –

“I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.”

The Jewish people had been given a liberty beyond their hopes, a light which shone for them that God still favored them. How much more then is the fulfillment of this marvelous picture to be found in the Light which came to provide a liberty never before dreamed of.

The true temple of God, pure and undefiled, was prepared in a human body. The defiled temple which had existed from the time of Adam was, once again, made acceptable to God and for His service. This then was to be a liberty not from human rule and oppression, but that of freedom from the spiritual forces which have waged war on humanity since its very beginning.

This Light stepped into His creation in order to restore all that had gone astray. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, prophesied over his own son concerning this Light which would accomplish these marvelous things –

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Highest;
For you will go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways,
77 To give knowledge of salvation to His people
By the remission of their sins,
78 Through the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;
79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

The Light was coming and John would be there to proclaim that fact, preparing the way for Israel to meet the promised Messiah. And Zechariah’s prophecy was one which built upon the words of Isaiah, pronounced 700 years earlier –

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
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.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. Isaiah 9:1-7

What a marvel occurred in the dark recesses of the virgin womb! The Deliverer had come to deliver! The Light of the world had come as God’s divine Beacon to rescue man from himself. The Lord God Almighty had condescended to come and dwell among us. heurethe en gastri ekhousa ek pneumatos agiou – “She was found with Child through the Holy Spirit.” Christmas had arrived.

In darkness I groped, darkness of the deepest night
Looking for life that would last, but it could not be found
But then came the most marvelous Light
And with it came the heavenly chorus, a glorious sound

Through the tender mercy of our God
With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us
There is now light on the path that we trod
The everlasting light of our Lord Jesus

Now there is a new hope for us, a hope eternal
To those who sit in darkness, and in death’s shadow
There is salvation from hell’s pit so infernal
There is from the Lamp of God, Christ’s eternal glow

II. Darkness and Light

The Christmas story fills our minds with wonderful pictures of days past. We revel in this time of year each year. We smell the scent of pine, we rejoice in food which fills our taste buds. The weather has returned to where it was, just twelve months before. These things delight our minds with memories of past days when we smell the same smells, taste the same tastes, and feel the same cool chill upon our necks.

It is a time to remember, and a time to make new memories. But it is a time that we should also reflect upon why we celebrate. In reality, and without the holiday, for many it is the bleakest time of the year. The nights are at their longest, painful cold has settled in, and the winter of our despair has come.

Many don’t survive the ordeal, and the true winter of eternity’s darkness arrives to claim their weary soul. God chose this unfavorable time of gloom to give us the greatest hope of all. What manner of love is it that would impel Him to do what He did? What is it about man that God takes notice of Him?

From our perspective… Oh boy, the answer is easy. “I am ME! This is MY life.” Just like the wolf whose leg is caught in a trap will chew that leg off in order to survive, we will do anything to survive and to keep on living. It is the eternal dream of man to just keep on living. Novels are written about it; movies are made about it. It is our desire to… just keep on living.

But if we try to look at things from God’s perspective, it all is so hard to figure. What on earth is of value in that mass of organisms which are nothing but rebellious, self-consumed, and hopelessly arrogant beings? We walk around in the darkness looking for anything to fill our brief existence with pleasure – going from darkness to darkness.

Maybe that’s it though. Maybe it’s because we are in darkness that we choose the darkness. No, wait… no that can’t be it. Adam was surrounded by light and yet he chose the darkness. Only after making the choice did he want the light once again. He did want it.

That must be it then, without knowing one from the other we can’t know which we want. That must be why God allowed it all to happen, and then to step in and give us a choice as to which we would choose. Surely that is it.

The Light of the world came to show us a contrast. We can choose the Light, or we can revel in the dark. The choice is ours. And sure enough, this is what the Light Himself said. In John 3, while talking at night with Nicodemus, Jesus said to him, and thus to us –

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:18-21

The distinction can be seen, the choice must be made, and all will pursue only one of two paths – towards the Light or remaining in darkness. This then is the reason for the Christmas story. It is the reason for the otherwise unimaginable thing which God has done. He has come to give us Light, if we will but just choose it.

We are here today to worship the King of the Universe, the manifestation of the unseen Father in human flesh, to behold the marvel of the Light which shines forth for us and which came to us in the most astonishing way of all. heurethe en gastri ekhousa ek pneumatos agiou – “She was found with Child through the Holy Spirit.”

God created all things out of nothing. He created something separate from Himself and yet which is contained within His omnipresence. And then He joined together with that which He created – all for the sake of frail, fallible, rebellious beings who otherwise had no hope at all.

In that stupendously marvelous act, He has given us a choice. We can continue on in the darkness, or we can come to the Light. There is no tunnel of light for us to choose after death – I’m sorry, it doesn’t work that way. There is only continued darkness which will span eternal ages. But there is a Light which we can come to now, and in so doing we are surrounded with Light which shall never end, no nor even fade.

God did this thing for us, for you. The perfection of Jesus Christ is seen from His moment of conception, through His birth in a lowly manger, in each step He ever took, and in each word He ever spoke. The perfection of Jesus Christ is seen in His torturous death on a wooden cross, and it is seen in the resurrection which came just days later.

The Child in the womb, the Baby in the manger, the Teacher on the mountain, the lifeless Body on the cross, and the Man standing victorious over death itself all speak of a wisdom and a love which spans the eons of time and the length and breadth of the universe itself. All things make sense when we ponder what God has done, and which started in the sudden flash of Light in the womb of Mary. heurethe en gastri ekhousa ek pneumatos agiou – “She was found with Child through the Holy Spirit.”

Praise God for Jesus Christ our Lord. Praise God for His infinite love, poured out on us through Jesus Christ our Lord. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Closing Verse: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life— the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us— that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.” 1 John 1:1-4

Next Week: Exodus 40:1-16 Paths, and Lights, and even Lambs… (Seven I Am’s) (104th Exodus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if the world around you seems dark, there is the Light of Christ to guide you back to your heavenly Father. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Light of the World

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows:
After the betrothal of His mother Mary had come around
Before they came together
She was with Child of the Holy Spirit found

Then Joseph her husband
Being a just man, righteousness he did display
And not wanting to make her a public example
Was minded to put her secretly away

But while he thought about these things
Behold, an angel of the Lord
Appeared to him in a dream, saying
This he did say, his spoken word

“Joseph, son of David
Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife
For that which is conceived in her
Is of the Holy Spirit; the Divine spark of Life

And she will bring forth a Son
And you shall call His name Jesus
For He will save His people from their sins
He is God’s Christmas Child; holy and marvelous

And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, I know that you agree
You are little among the thousands of Judah, it is so
Yet out of you shall come forth even unto Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel, My word is true you know

His goings forth are from of old
From everlasting, thus you have been told

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon
Her who is distressed or in agony
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali

And afterward more heavily oppressed her
By the way of the sea
Beyond the Jordan it shall occur
In an area of the Gentiles around the land of Galilee

The people who walked in darkness
It is they who have seen a great Light
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death
Upon them has shined a light so bright

You have multiplied the nation
And likewise its joy you have increased
They rejoice before You with great ovation
According to the time of harvest, a joy which will not be ceased

As men rejoice when they divide the spoil
When they receive the bounty and no longer toil

For You have the yoke of his burden broken
And the staff of his shoulder is taken away
The rod of his oppressor no longer an unfriendly token
As in the time of Midian, when he was destroyed that day

For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle
And garments roooooolled in blood
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire, worthless chattel
Useless implements overtaken by time’s great flood

Praise God O Israel, For unto us a Child is born
Praise the Lord Land of Judah, For u nto us a Son is given
And the government shall upon His shoulder be worn
And through Him shall man’s sins be forgiven

And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace no end shall we see

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever, He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this

The scepter shall not depart from Judah
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet
Until Shiloh comes and we shout Hallelujah
And to Him the obedience of the people shall be sweet

This helpless baby lying in a manger
Will rule the world in everlasting peace
Through Him will come security with no danger
And the rule of His glory shall never, never cease

All praise to our stupendous Lord of glory
Yes, all honor to this precious King
Praising God for the wondrous Christmas story
Let all the Lord’s redeemed shout aloud and sing

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

Matthew 1:20, 21 (You Shall Call His Name JESUS)

Christmas 2015
Matthew 1:20, 21
You Shall Call His name Jesus

At Christmas time, we come together to hear the word about the birth of Jesus. We celebrate this most wondrous moment when the eternal, infinite, perfect, and pure God stepped out of His eternal realm and united with human flesh in the womb of a woman.

He was conceived of the Holy Spirit, carried for the normal time any human would be carried, and He was born in the usual way of all humans. The Christmas Child, who had created the vast cosmos by His wisdom and His spoken word, was a normal baby. He was completely helpless but for the parents he was born to. And yet, He was certainly watched over by innumerable angels and by the set plan of His own heavenly Father.

He certainly couldn’t save himself if trouble came upon Him, and so He was wholly dependent on Joseph and Mary for His warmth, protection, food, and care. It is the marvel of this occurrence that we celebrate. For most, it is a time of rejoicing and happiness, of eating and giving gifts.

Hopefully, among the many preparations we make for this time of gathering, we will remember this Christmas Child, not neglect Him. He was born to save, and Jesus is His name…

Text Verse:  Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those 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

The few words, spoken to Joseph through a dream by an angel of the Lord, reveal so much to us.

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The child has the legal right to the Davidic throne because He will be brought into the line of David through His adoptive father, Joseph. We also learn that Mary was pregnant with a child before he had come together with her. She was still a virgin, and yet what was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit. This in itself would take many pages to explain and we could only touch on the marvel of what it means.

We learn that the child will be a Son. Even from the earliest moments of conception, and at a time when they didn’t have all the modern technologies to scan a baby in the womb to determine what it would be, Joseph was told that it was to be a Son.

And this Son had a name picked out for Him already. Joseph and Mary wouldn’t need to struggle over what to call the Child. The decision was made before the world was created. His name would be… Jesus. And to follow up the reason for it, he was told, “…for He will save His people from their sins.”

To us, this doesn’t mean anything unless we know what Jesus means. The name is a transliteration of the Hebrew, through the Greek, and then through the Germanic languages into our modern English. Because of this, we have to go back to the Hebrew and discover that His name is Yeshua. Yeshua means “salvation.”

Thus, “His name is Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” It begins to make sense when we understand the meaning of the name. But in this name, and in the reason for the giving of the name, there is a veiled hint of His very nature. What He would do with this nature is more than Israel realized.

According to the angel in the dream, He wasn’t coming to save them from the Romans. He wasn’t coming to save them from poverty. He wasn’t coming to save them from pains, trials, or woes. No, He was coming to save them from their sins.

Though the other things are what we as humans would focus on, those particular things hardly make a difference to God if our sins aren’t taken care of. All of the other things which are wrong in the world are there because of our sins. Unless the sin problem is taken care of, the rest just doesn’t matter.

At Christmas, we want to focus on the fun stuff in the Bible, we want to read the old, old stories of the birth, and the angels, and the wise men, and the star, and… and all of those fun things. And it is right that we do so. And so I recommend that all of you read those stories this Christmas.

If you read Matthew, starting in verse 18 of chapter 1 and read all of chapter 2, you will get the entirety of the Christmas story from him. Then go to Luke and read all of Luke 1 and through verse 40 of chapter 2, you will have the entirety of his account as well.

But for us here now, we will look at the reason for these things, not the things themselves. And the reason for them is completely tied up in those simple words to Joseph –

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

Being saved from something implies that harm and death will result if one isn’t saved from it. We toss a life preserver to a person on the ocean because without it, they will drown. There is the one tossing, there is the thing which is tossed, and there is what the tossed thing can do. Each is tied up in the saving process.

God has a saving process for His people. It is a process which encompasses His entire word, from the very beginning until the very last chapter of it. And the entire process focuses on the giving of His Son for us…. in the giving of Jesus. Yes, it is all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Sinners Need a Savior

How confused the world is about Jesus! Ask ten people who He is and what He came to do, and you’ll get a wide variety of answers. Ask a hundred people and you’ll get so many more. Probably the most common answer though is, “That He came to save us.” I’ve noticed this. People do equate Jesus with saving us.

When you press them on what this means, quite a few will falter, but many will continue on the right path, “To save us from our sins.” If you press them further, they will normally start to break down very quickly in what that exactly means.

If you change the direction of question and ask, “What about you? If you died today, why should God allow you into heaven instead of tossing you into heck?” the majority of people will suddenly default back to self. “I’m a good person.” “I’m not as bad as Hitler.” “I do good things for other people.” “I petted a puppy yesterday.”

Suddenly, the “Jesus” you have been asking about is no longer the issue. It is “I.” This is the problem which man has faced all along, and it is the problem which every religion on earth but one has; the “I” problem.

Ask a muslim why they can go to heaven and it will be “I.” “I will do enough and allah will be pleased with me.” “If I die as a martyr for allah, I will go to paradise.” “I.”

Ask a buddhist about their idea of salvation, which isn’t necessarily heaven, but regardless of that, it still comes back to “I.” The same is true with Hindus, animists, and on and on. Even modern Jews base their relationship with God on self. Each is dealing with the same issue, and it is already broken – “I.”

There are even those in Christianity who haven’t learned. It is “I.” “I have proofs of my salvation through works.” “I have repented of my sins and so God has accepted me.” “I  think that…” Watch out for “I” and especially “I think.” It doesn’t matter what we think. What matters is what God says… in context.

However, the true Christian who understands that, “I need a Savior” is to take that knowledge not back to self, but to the One who can save them. It doesn’t make sense to say, “Here I am in this giant ocean with no land in sight, no life preserver around my neck, and no strength left to continue swimming, but I will save myself.”

That is simply unreasonable. A drowning man needs a savior from the depths. And humanity is in the same condition with sin. We are in an ocean of it. It surrounds us, it is below us, it is attacking us from all sides like the raging waves which rise up and cast us about. We would be fools to say the ocean isn’t there. And we would be fools to say that we have it all under control. But the world is full of fools. “I.” It is an “I problem.”

The story of Jonah shows us this state. It equates the world of sin with the ocean. Jonah was cast into that sea, just as Adam was cast into the ocean of sin. For him, there was no hope. He was to die in that ocean. But then… the Lord sent him a savior. He was given his proverbial life raft in the form of a fish.

From his place of safety, it says, “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly.” The sinner had found a Savior. And so he prayed concerning the distress he had been in. It is a prayer that each of us who knows Christ has made –

And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction,
And He answered me.
|“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried,
And You heard my voice.
For You cast me into the deep,
Into the heart of the seas,
And the floods surrounded me;
All Your billows and Your waves passed over me.
Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight;
Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’
The waters surrounded me, even to my soul;
The deep closed around me;
Weeds were wrapped around my head.
I went down to the moorings of the mountains;
The earth with its bars closed behind me forever;
Yet You have brought up my life from the pit,
O Lord, my God.
“When my soul fainted within me,
I remembered the Lord;
And my prayer went up to You,
Into Your holy temple.
“Those who regard worthless idols
Forsake their own Mercy.
But I will sacrifice to You
With the voice of thanksgiving;
I will pay what I have vowed.
Salvation is of the Lord.” Jonah 2:2-9

Jonah said that “those who regard worthless idols forsake their own mercy.” Self is certainly a worthless idol. Our bodies falter under the heavy load, they degrade through the years, and they fall apart and become weak.

Our minds, no matter how sharp, get foggy in sickness, they get tired without sleep, and they get confused when they are overrun with chemicals. Our beauty is temporary and our personalities are only as cheerful as the next stressful morning or the next piece of bad news. Self is a terrible place to pin one’s hopes. Jonah understood this.

There, right at the end of the prayer, Jonah acknowledged the same thing that each of the redeemed in Christ have acknowledged –

yeshuatah Yehovah – “Salvation is of the Lord.” It is an ancient story with a modern picture. The word, yeshuatah is simply a structural form of the noun yeshuah. Jonah, in his misery at having been cast into the pit from which he could not save himself, called out to the Lord and the Lord sent Yeshua; Jesus – our Salvation.

Sinners in fact need a Savior. And that Savior is of the Lord. You won’t find Him in self. And as every other religion on earth outside of biblical Christianity is based on self, you will only find Him in the Christmas Child. Jonah realized this and after making his acknowledgement with it, he was granted relief –

“So the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.” Jonah 2:10

Jonah left the waters and was returned to dry land. He left the place of chaos and returned to the world of order. By merely opening his mouth and acknowledging that Jesus is Lord, he was saved. This is what God sent His Son to do. This is the mission of the Christmas Child. Yes, Sinners need a Savior and the Lord sent Yeshua to save us from our sins –

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

A sinner in need of a Savior; that would be me
I am cut off from my God with no hope in sight
I am floundering in this storm-tossed sea
And I need someone to cast something to me to make it right

I am sinking below the billowing waves; my sin is heaped too high
I can feel the claws of hell pulling me down
To any hope of being reconciled to God, I have waved “goodbye”
The sin has overwhelmed me and I am starting to drown

Oh but God sent a Savior, more than just a foam life-preserver
Instead, He sent me Jesus, His own beloved Son
I am unworthy it is true, I am the world’s biggest non-deserver
But through His cross my salvation has been won

II. Fallen Man Needs a Perfect Man

The angel in the dream which came to Joseph did not just say, “Joseph, do not be afraid…” Instead, he said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…” The words of the Bible are precise and they have intent.

This then wasn’t an unnecessary or superfluous addition. Instead, it was intended for Joseph to understand that he, as a son of David, was selected to be the legal father of the promised Seed of David. This wasn’t something hidden away for only the theologians of Israel to know about. Instead, it was something that even the most common of the land would have been told and would have anticipated.

It would have been more commonly understood than even the election of a new president in America. And it would have even been more anticipated, hoped for, and prayed for than the replacement of our current president.

The people were waiting for a Savior. They were under the oppression of the Romans and they thought that this was what He was all about. They thought that this Son of David would free them from their physical bonds and place them once again above the nations. In Matthew 12, the people as a whole are said to have understood that the Messiah was the Son of David –

“Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. 23 And all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?'” Matthew 12:22, 23

But even those outside of the people known as Israel had heard of the coming chosen One who would be a Son of David. When Jesus was traveling to the north along the coast, we read this account about a Canaanite woman who knew and understood that the Jewish Messiah would be a Son of David –

“Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.'” Matthew 15:21, 22

And as the time came for Jesus to receive His kingdom as the Son of David, the people… the multitudes, called out acknowledging Him as their Messiah; calling for Him to save –

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!” Matthew 21:1-9

It is this Son of David who they were looking for and whom they realized they had found in Jesus. But what is it that prompted them to this knowledge? What is the basis for the Son of David to be the One they expected? Well, it goes back to what the Lord promised directly to David in 2 Samuel 7 –

“When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15 But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.”’” 2 Samuel 7:12-16

This, along with quiet a few other references to David in their Scriptures, told them that the promised One would be a Son of David. The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah all spoke of the throne of David or of the line of David in this future way.

And so the people waited for their King to come. However, and unfortunately, they missed much of the significance of what He was coming to do. Yes, a future kingdom was promised; a literal kingdom with a literal throne, among the people of Israel.

But this wasn’t all that the son of David was coming to provide. Instead, Joseph was told exactly what He was first and foremost coming to do – “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” There was a greater problem than Roman oppression. There was the bondage of the devil; the problem of sin.

This is a problem that required a Savior, a human Savior. The Bible shows that a rift exists between God and man because of our sin. However, there is the truth that God, meaning God who is Spirit, could not take care of that problem in His eternal state as Spirit. It would require a Man within the created order to handle it.

The fact is that God is infinite and man is finite. The gap needs to be bridged in order for there to be reconciliation. Too often, we focus on the deity of Christ and fail to analyze and contemplate the humanity of Christ. This leaves us with a rather unbalanced picture of who He is. From our text, it is evident that Christ is a Man.

The words, “for that which is conceived in her” shows us that there is a human Child in Mary’s womb. The Baby came from her human DNA. He was nourished from her as He grew inside of her. When He was born, He consumed the milk her body had prepared for Him.

He cried, He grasped up for her hands, He smiled, He slept. This Christmas Child was truly a Child. He did all of the things that a human would do. The Bible says that He grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men. Yes, He learned as He grew. He learned to walk and to talk. He learned to chew food.

Everything that we as humans do, He also did. He was a Man like all men, with but an important difference – He was born without sin. There was a picture of His coming all the way back at the time of Abraham. Like David, Abraham was given a promise too. Like David, he would be in the line of the Messiah.

As a sign of this promise and all that it entailed, Abraham was told that he was to be circumcised and that all of his descendants were to be circumcised as well. The purpose of circumcision has been talked about and debated over for eons. And there are several reasons for it which we can deduce from the Bible.

But there is one reason for it which is pictorial rather than actual. And that is the most important reason of all. Circumcision involves cutting away the foreskin of the male reproductive organ. The orlah, or foreskin, remaining on the child counted the child as having a deficiency which was unacceptable.

The term “uncircumcised” is used in a moral sense in the Bible. To be uncircumcised in the ears is to be a person who refuses to listen to sound moral advice. To be uncircumcised in the heart is to be a person who is not morally upright.

When Moses asked to not speak on behalf of the Lord, he said he was “of uncircumcised lips.” He felt that he was morally unqualified to speak on behalf of the Lord, thus diminishing His glory through contemptible speech.

These examples show us that to be uncircumcised was to demonstrate moral incompleteness. And so, in picture, the circumcision looked forward to a time when moral perfection would come. As sin is moral imperfection, then it is a picture of one born without sin.

The circumcision of the Israelites pictured the cutting off of sin in humanity by the Savior who could perform that function. This is the Savior that sinners needed. They needed a sinless one. As the Child conceived to Mary had no human father, then he would not inherit the sin of man.

The rite of circumcision shows us that sin travels from father to child. As all people – both men and women – have fathers, then all people inherit the sin of their father.

And as all people came from one father, Adam, then all people have inherited Adam’s original sin. Generation after generation, the sin of our first father has been visited upon us through our earthly father. God, who is Spirit, couldn’t solve this as a Spirit. Only a Man could resolve it. But He could initiate the process.

And so a Man was born without a human father, and yet was born of humanity through the woman. He was born the perfect Child. As this was true, he was qualified to be the Savior. The Christmas Child had come. The Gift had arrived. The only question for us to consider is, “Could He continue without sin?” Yes, He was qualified, but was He capable?

The words to Joseph say, “Yes.” He is in fact capable –

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The angel in the dream did not say, “He might save His people from their sins.” Instead, it said, “He will save His people from their sins.” There is a note of surety tied up in the bundle of joy who is that precious cooing Christmas Child.

However, there is a truth which cannot be escaped and it is something that must be discussed or we will have a deficient idea of who our Savior is. It is what we would call the Arian heresy. It is an insipid infection which permeates the world even today in aberrant cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

This truth stems from the fact that anything finite is bound by limitations. And with these limitations there is defect. We do not have all the answers to every thing. We are limited in knowledge and we are limited in ability.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but with a deficient will, a will which lacks perfect understanding, there will inevitably be fault. And with fault comes sin. What does this mean? It means there is more to the Savior than just His humanity.

The chasm is too wide, it is impossible for me to bridge
I can never attain to what is infinite on my own
It isn’t like walking over a mere mountain ridge
Instead it is an eternal walk which leaves me all alone

But God did it! He made the way back to me
He sent Jesus to make it possible once again
He stretched His arms out upon the cross of Calvary
One touched me, the other His Father… Hallelujah and Amen!

The spot where infinity meets with limited me
It is there in the Person of my Lord Jesus
Through His shed blood there on that wooden tree
He died for me and all the redeemed. He did it for every one of us!

III. The Perfect Man is a Man without Limitations

Joseph was told an earful in his dream – wasn’t he! More than we could evaluate in a whole book. But, from those words we have seen that sinners need a Savior, and we have deduced that fallen man needs a perfect Man in order to save him. But a perfect Man, as Jesus is deduced to be, must be a Man without limitations.

And in fact, the sermon text shows us that He is…

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

All humans have a father. The difference between this One and the rest of us is that the Child of Christmas is the Son of God. He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit who was there at the very beginning –

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Genesis 1:1, 2

From the creation model, we find that all things reproduce after their own kind. If dogs reproduce, their offspring are dogs. If a mango seed is planted, a mango tree will come forth. And when humans breed, out come cooing little human babies.

What this first chapter of Genesis is telling us is that the Christmas Child was more than just a Man. As a child of Mary, He was thus fully Man. But as the Son of God, he is also fully God. In order to save fallen Man, Jesus couldn’t be merely a man. If he were, he would have inherited his first father’s sin.

But more than that, and contrary to the Arian heresy, he couldn’t be any type of finite, created being. The reason for this is more philosophic than most of us would care to contemplate, but it is also logical and it explains well who this Child of Christmas really is. And He is certainly not a created being.

Yes, He was a human baby in a manger. He was in need of milk and loving arms. But He is also the very God of all things. He was and is One with the Father. To understand this, we have to refer to the treatise on Free Will which was authored by the 13th century theologian Thomas Aquinas. He wrote that…

“…in voluntary things the defect of the action comes from the will actually deficient, inasmuch as it does not actually subject itself to its proper rule. This defect, however, is not a fault, but fault follows upon it from the fact that the will acts with this defect.”

That might not make much sense, but it is at the core of who this Child of Christmas is. From his words, we find that anything other than God which has a will of its own (which this describes man, by the way) is in a state of deficiency. We are not God and we do not possess all of the knowledge of God.

This is not sinful; it is just the way it is. However, Aquinas notes that “This defect … is not a fault, but fault follows upon it from the fact that the will acts with this defect.” In other words, every will which is deficient will inevitably result in fault. We would call this “sin.” We act without all of the information and therefore our actions lead us into sin.

For our first father, Adam, he acted in his deficiency which was lacking the knowledge of good and evil. Despite being told that he should not do the thing he did, he couldn’t grasp that it was evil to disobey. He was in a state of innocence concerning good and evil and yet he was without excuse because of the command.

Today, our problem is only exacerbated. We have the knowledge of good and evil, but because of the existence of sin in our lives, which we inherited from Adam, we act upon our evil desires. In other words, Adam lacked the knowledge of good and evil, whereas we lack the ability to properly exercise the knowledge of good and evil which we now possess.

These are the only two options for man. Either we will sin because we lack the knowledge of what sinning is, or we will sin because we lack the ability to properly conduct ourselves because of our limitations in our sinful state. Either way, sin is the problem and so Joseph was given the good news –

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

It is the good news because God had come to dwell among us. It is the only explanation to these words. If our human limitations cause sin, and Jesus needed to be a perfect and sinless, then Jesus must be God; completely without limitations.

He would not exercise His own will against God, but rather He would do exactly as His divine nature called for Him to do. The question is: “Does the Bible bear this out?” The answer is, “Yes.” From Jesus’ own mouth, He confirms what we can deduce by merely thinking it through –

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.” John 5:30

The dual nature of Christ is so inextricably intertwined that though He is fully Man, He is also fully God. Though in His humanity He bore all of our limitations, in His deity, He bore none of them. He is morally perfect in all ways; lacking nothing; complete, perfect, and pure. Our Christmas Child is heaven’s perfect Ruler!

Adam acted against proper rule with his lack of knowledge and it resulted in fault, or sin. We lack in our inability to properly exercise our knowledge and it results in sin. Christ acts on His Father’s infinite and perfectly moral will and it results in perfection of action. What an amazing thing to consider as we sit around the cradle of this marvelous Christmas Child –

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

But maybe we somehow misread the intent of what Jesus was saying about His will and His Father’s will being one. Is there any other proof that we can hold on to before we close so that we know for sure that the Son of David really is the Lord God Almighty?

Well, if you give me enough time, we could pull out a thousand passages which confirm this, but let’s go straight to the mouth of both David and Jesus. As David was given the promise, and as Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of the promise, we can surely trust their words.

Jesus, quoting David from the 110th Psalm, spoke the following in a discussion with the leaders of Israel –

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
43 He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
44 ‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’?
45 If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” 46 And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. Matthew 22:42-46

David himself showed us what we need to know. Jesus simply used David’s words to point to Himself. The Pharisees knew, without a doubt, that the Christ, or Messiah, would be the Son of David. They knew this because this is what Scripture says, and so this is what they said with their own lips back to Jesus.

But then Jesus, questioned them, asking them to think it through just a little further from the Spirit inspired psalms. He asked, “How then does David (a man born from Adam) in the Spirit (meaning that the psalms are divinely inspired by the Spirit of God) call Him (meaning the Messiah) ‘Lord?’ (meaning Yehovah, the God of Israel.)”

After asking this, He cited the Psalm to them. “The Lord” (Yehovah) said to my Lord (Adonai – meaning Yehovah). In other words, David himself called his own Son, “my Lord” (Yehovah). How can that be? David said it and the words are inspired by the Spirit of God, who confirmed it. Jesus was trying to get them to think it through to its logical end.

It was this Son of David who is the same One who was spoken of by the angel of the Lord more than thirty years earlier –

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

And as surely as it can be, we have the mystery of Christ wrapped up in one perfect package which has been delivered to us in the pages of God’s superior word. We are with limitations and so we are prone to err in our ways and in our analyses. But with thoughtful care, with prayer, and with study, the truth of the Christmas Child shines out brightly.

I. Sinners Need a Savior
II.Fallen Man Needs a Perfect Man
III. The Perfect Man is a Man without Limitations

The Child of Christmas is revealed in such a simple set of words, spoken to a heartbroken man as he lay in his sleep, determined to put away the woman whom he thought had broken his trust. Instead, he was given the most marvelous look into the wisdom and mind of God that any man up to that point in time had ever been given.

And just nine months later, he gazed upon the face of God, revealed in human form for us to grasp, to cherish, and to praise. What a marvelous thing to contemplate. What a Gift of Christmas from the very heart of God to those who have so eagerly waited to hear the good news!

“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:
14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!” Luke 2:10-14

Closing Verse: “So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which is translated, ‘God with us.'” Matthew 1:23

Next Week: Exodus 20:18-26 There is a place for propitiation when we falter…  (The Earthen Altar) (56th Exodus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. He was willing to put on a body of flesh and to dwell among us despite all the pains He had to endure in the process. If He did that for you, think of how much more lies ahead when we walk with Him in glory! So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

His Name is Jesus

But while he thought about these things
Behold, an angel of the Lord
Appeared to him in a dream, saying
This he did say, his spoken word

“Joseph, son of David
Do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife
For that which is conceived in her
Is of the Holy Spirit; the Divine spark of Life

And she will bring forth a Son
And you shall call His name Jesus
For He will save His people from their sins
He is God’s Christmas Child; holy and marvelous

And you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, I know that you agree
You are little among the thousands of Judah, it is so
Yet out of you shall come forth even unto Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel, My word is true you know

His goings forth are from of old
From everlasting, thus you have been told

Praise God O Israel, For unto us a Child is born
Praise the Lord Land of Judah, For Unto us a Son is given
And the government shall upon His shoulder be worn
And through Him shall man’s sins be forgiven

And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace no end shall we see

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever, He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The scepter shall not depart from Judah
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet
Until Shiloh comes and we shout Hallelujah
And to Him the obedience of the people shall be sweet

This helpless baby lying in a manger
Will rule the world in everlasting peace
Through Him will come security with no danger
And the rule of His glory shall never, never cease

All praise to our stupendous Lord of Glory
Yes, all honor to this precious King
Praising God for the wondrous Christmas story
Let all the Lord’s redeemed shout aloud and sing

Hallelujah and Amen…

Matthew 27:22 – Crucifixion – Good Friday

130329_crucifixion_painting

Friday, 29 March 2013

Pilate said to them, “What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said to him, “Let Him be crucified!” Matthew 27:22

Two men, probably very close in age and both having the same name – Jesus Barabbas (son of a father) and Jesus, Son of the Father (bar Abba) stand before the ruler Pontius Pilate. One was a robber who was imprisoned for his crimes and the other, the sinless Son of God who was being accused falsely. The record of His life testifies to both His innocent state and His fulfillment of the Scriptures. The law was satisfied in Him, and though He stood before the judgment seat in innocence, His life would be given as a Substitute for the sins of the people.

A picture of this act is found recorded in Leviticus 16. This chapter provides the instructions for the Day of Atonement rituals for the people of Israel and every detail is realized in the bringing of these two before Pilate. Two goats were to be presented and lots were to be cast: one lot for the Lord and the other lot for the scapegoat. The goat on which the Lord’s lot fell was to be offered as a sin offering. The goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat was to be presented alive before the Lord, to make atonement upon it, and then to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness.

The goat for the sin offering was slaughtered, its blood was brought inside the veil, and it was sprinkled on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. In the same manner, Jesus was offered for the sins of the world. Hebrews chapter 9 explains what occurred –

“But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.” Hebrews 9:11, 12

The cross of Jesus Christ wasn’t a mistake and it wasn’t something that came out of nowhere. Instead, it was determined by God before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8) that Jesus would be slain for the sins committed by the people He created. Peter told the people of Israel that He who was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death…” Acts 2:23

God in His infinite wisdom, mercy, and goodness, determined that man was worth redeeming from the power of sin. He knew that sin would come and that without working salvation by His own arm, the chasm could never be crossed. But through the incarnation, Jesus could stretch His human hand out and place it on finite man and He could stretch out His divine hand and place it upon His infinite Father, thus bridging the gap and restoring what was lost.

Two men, standing before the throne – one guilty, one innocent. The decision was rendered, the Innocent was taken, and the cross was His reward. Thank God for the cross.

Life application: Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.

Glorious Heavenly Father, as I learn the Old Testament, time and time again my eyes are opened to the glories which are hidden there and which become apparent and obvious when seen through the lens of the Messiah. I stand in awe of what You have done though Him and I make my boast in His cross… thank You for the cross. Amen.