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…

 

 

Luke 2:14, Christmas Day 2014

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Thursday, 25 December 2014

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
Luke 2:14

On 25 December of each year, we remember the birth of the Lord Jesus. Actually the Bible pinpoints the delivery of His birth to the September/October time-frame, but backing that up for the nine months of human gestation, we arrive at the 25 December time-frame. The most astonishing moment in human history occurred on this day. God united with human flesh in the womb of a virgin of Israel; it is His birthday.

Christ Jesus was born in sinless perfection. All other human beings who have ever existed since the creation of man were born of Adam. When Adam fell, man fell in Adam. All people have received Adam’s fallen sin-nature. It is inherited through the father. But at the time of Abraham, God gave the Hebrew people the sign of circumcision. It is a picture of cutting away the sin-nature in man through the cutting of the flesh of the male organ where sin is transferred. Christ Jesus came and fulfilled that picture.

Being born of God the Father, He didn’t receive man’s fallen state; inherited sin is cut off in Him. And being born of a woman, he received full-humanity. Thus He is the God/Man. But there is more. He was born of a woman of Israel and thus born under the law; God’s standard. As He was born without sin, He was the first person since Adam who was capable of fully pleasing God and thus redeeming man. However, He needed to fulfill the law perfectly in order to replace Adam’s fallen state. He was capable, but could He also qualify?

The answer is, “Yes!” The four gospels are recorded to show us that not only was He capable of fulfilling the law, but that He actually did fulfill the law. Where Adam failed, Christ prevailed. After fulfilling the law, He gave His own life in exchange for the sins of fallen man – both inherited sin as well as committed sin.

Where we were born in Adam and destined for eternal separation from God, we can now be “in Christ” and destined for eternal fellowship with Him. In Christ, all that is needed for restoration, propitiation, and fellowship with our Creator is obtainable. And it is available through a mere act of faith.

God asks us to put aside our useless deeds which are ineffective to restore us to Him, and to put our full trust in the work of Christ alone. By faith, and by faith alone, we are moved from Adam to Christ. It is by grace you are saved, God’s grace, through faith in God’s provision. It is not by works where we can boast before God, but instead it is by His mighty right arm that together the redeemed of the Lord will for eternal ages proclaim –

“Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

Hallelujah to the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Hallelujah to Yeshua the Messiah of the Jews; to Jesus the Christ of the nations! Hallelujah to our glorious King. Hallelujah! Christ has come!

Life application: Never stop telling others about the Lord Jesus. He is the one and only way to be reconciled to God the Father. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.

Heavenly Father, today we celebrate the moment You came and united with human flesh in order to save us from our sins. We thank You and we praise You for the marvel, the splendor, and the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ – fully God and fully Man. He can stretch His infinite arm out to You for us, and He can stretch His finite arm out to us for You. And thus, through Him, the path to eternal righteousness is restored. Hallelujah to Yeshua the Messiah of the Jews; to Jesus the Christ of the nations! Hallelujah to our glorious King. Hallelujah! Christ has come! Hallelujah and Amen!

 

 

Luke 1:35

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Tuesday, 24 December 2013

And the angel answered and said to her, “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

There is a common thread and idea in the Old Testament which is found noted both explicitly and implicitly. It is that One would come to restore what Adam lost. The first hint of this coming One is in Genesis 3:15 –

“And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”

After this, countless references appear which point to Him. Right after their expulsion from the garden, children are born. From these, a single line is highlighted. Again and again, individuals are named and the stories of their lives are given to show God’s superintending hand of care upon the process of ushering in the promised Redeemer.

Abraham was called and eventually he was given the sign of circumcision. That sign was given to identify a select group whom God would use and through whom would come the promise. But even the sign itself is a picture of the coming Messiah. The Bible shows us that sin came through Adam. It then travels through the male to his offspring. As every human has both a father and a mother, every human receives Adam’s fallen nature. Circumcision pictures the cutting away of that fallen nature by cutting the male organ through which sin is transmitted. But it was only a picture; the sin still comes through the father to the child. This is evidenced in the record of those born within the covenant community.

The covenant people continued on, generation after generation. And within their group prophets continued to proclaim the coming One. Hints concerning His birthplace, His ministry, and even His nature are given. Every word of their Scriptures drips with allusions to His coming. But the prophets stopped speaking and a time of quiet came. Approximately 430 years went by and then unexpectedly, a man named Zechariah was given the promise of a son who would go before the Lord to proclaim Him to the people.

Shortly after that, the angel Gabriel appeared to a young Jewish virgin named Mary. He spoke these words to her –

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.”

Her response was natural, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And his answer forms the verse we are looking at today. Suddenly, the promises and pictures all come into focus. How could the “seed of the woman” defeat the devil? The answer is that the woman, a fallen child of Adam and bearing his sin and fallen nature like any other person, will bear the Son of God. The sign of circumcision is now understandable. Sin is pictured as being cut away in the covenant people because sin is cut away through the covenant people.

Because sin travels from father to child, and because this Child will have no human father, then no sin will be transferred to Him, despite the fallen nature of the mother. She will be the receptacle through which will come the Messiah of the world. His Father being God, He will be God. His mother being a human, He will be a human. He is the God-Man.

The Child of Christmas is coming; hope for the world is to be found in Him.

Life application: The Christmas Child was born and so we celebrate His birth once a year. But the Christmas Child is eternal, so let us celebrate His life always and forever.

Glorious God Almighty – We wrap presents, anticipate gifts, eat a lot of food, and we share in family and friends. But too often we forget that the only reason we do these things is to mark the birth of the Messiah. Lord God, open hearts and minds to the truth of this day, be exalted for the wondrous work You have accomplished, and receive our thanks and praise for the greatest Gift of all, the Child of Christmas – our Lord and Savior, Jesus. Amen. 

Luke 23:56 – Holy Saturday

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Saturday, 30 March 2013

Then they returned and prepared spices and fragrant oils. And they rested on the Sabbath according to the commandment. Luke 23:56

The women who traveled with Jesus, who loved Him, and who believed in Him and His ministry must have been crushed at the things which transpired. A few short days earlier, He was led into Jerusalem and hailed as a the King of Israel, but the favor of the people turned and now He was dead.

But His death wasn’t just from an angry person throwing a stone and by chance hitting His head. It was a trial, a scourging, and a crucifixion – a rejection by the very people who called Him King. It was the cruelest way to die and it was a public shame. It’s hard to even imagine what their thoughts were like. Bewilderment mixed with horror and sadness. But they followed His torn body to the tomb, noted where it was, and returned to their home to prepare spices and fragrant oils.

And being obedient Jews, they rested on the Sabbath, from sundown to sundown. They were never under the misguided notion that they were above the law or separated from it. Nor did they lose their faith in God at this time and simply walk away from Him. Rather, the record states that they remained observant to the law despite what occurred. Jesus wasn’t an usurper of the law, nor did He instruct them to be so.

The lesson from these women is one for each of us as we face our own trials, loss, and heartache. Will we curse God because of the death of a child? Will we blame God for our financial loss? Do we find fault in God because there is pain, suffering, and evil which fill the world? Or do we, despite our situation, remain faithful and obedient to the calling to which we have been called?

These women who faced the most catastrophic moment in their lives, and in a way which would crush the most hardened soldier, stood firm in their convictions, faithful to their faith, and held on to the hope which God offered to them through His word and His selection of them as His people, Israel.

Their hearts were shattered, their thoughts were clouded with grief, and their sleep surely fled them as they mourned the loss of their Lord. The future which lay ahead for them was certain to be lives filled with grief and painful memories of the beauty of a moment in time which had slipped away into the cruel past… but they remained faithful to God and to His word.

Life application: God is the Creator and we are His creatures. Naked we came from the womb and naked we shall return there. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away – Blessed be the name of the Lord, from everlasting to everlasting.

Lord, if all else is taken from me – if I lose my family, my possessions, and my health; if nothing remains of me but a broken soul, just one thing I would ask of You. Grant me, O God, the ability to praise You. Let no sickness take this from my body, let no sadness take this from my mind, let nothing restrain me from the ability to just praise You. With this, I will find the satisfaction of my soul. Amen.

Matthew 27:22 – Crucifixion – Good Friday

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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.