These articles were first published as a booklet in 1993: revised and edited 2018.
Born of the Virgin Mary
A study of one of the neglected doctrines of the church
Why is it important – and how is it relevant for today?
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23.)
I was called to pastor my first church in 1969 and at some point in that pastorate – probably around Christmas time – I preached a sermon on The Virgin Birth. I was surprised how many members approached me to say they had never heard a sermon on that subject before. Some who told me this had been Christians for many years and had belonged to several different churches and even denominations. I found precisely the same reaction when I preached on it subsequently in other places on both sides of the Atlantic. Why was I surprised? Primarily because the Virgin Birth has been regarded, since the earliest days of the church, as one of the cardinal truths of the Christian Faith and a very important statement concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, millions of Christians all over the world repeat the words of the (so-called) Apostles’ Creed, affirming their faith in Jesus Christ “…born of the Virgin Mary…,” and the stories of Christ’s birth recorded in the opening chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke are among the most often read and best known passages of the entire Bible.
So, it is strange, isn’t it, that this subject seems to be rarely considered? Why would this be?
- It may be because it is a miracle. We are said to be too educated and sophisticated today to believe in miracles. We are told this virgin birth teaching is unscientific. You cannot have a virgin who is a mother with a child. There is no such thing as an “offspring of a virgin’s womb.” The two things are completely contradictory. Such stories as the Shepherds, the Magi, the Star of Bethlehem and even the Virgin Birth, it is suggested, are just legends put in by the pre-scientific writers to enhance the image of Jesus. We shall return to that theory later.
- It may be that it is not preached on, even by those who still believe and affirm it, because it is too deep. It is the common view that congregations do not want things anymore that are hard to understand. They do not want meat. They have hardly any appetite for milk. At least that is what many pastors believe. Evidently, even at Christmas we must not study the Incarnation. How ironical! Yet our churches should be centers of worship, fellowship, and teaching (Acts 2:42).
- Perhaps for some, the Virgin Birth does not seem relevant. That is the great test today isn’t it – “relevance”. There is little or no interest in truth for its own sake. It must scratch me where I itch or I’m not interested. Someone may say, “What has the Virgin Birth to do with my marital problems, or my family difficulties or the stresses of my job? What practical relevance has it to where I am and what I struggle with?”
I hope that, if you will read to the end of this article, you will see that the Virgin Birth is not only true, and well worth the effort of study, but is also the most relevant message that you or I could ever consider. I believe it has everything to do with where you are and the problems you face.
We shall consider this great truth by seeking to answer three questions:
What is the evidence for it?
What is its significance?
What is its relevance to each of us?
1 THE EVIDENCE
There are just two accounts of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. So far as we are told, the birth itself, though in unhygienic surroundings, was quite normal. It was the conception which was miraculous. Because the stories of the birth of Jesus told in Matthew 2 and Luke 2 are so familiar, let us concentrate upon those earlier verses which announce that his mother was a virgin. One announcement was to Joseph and is recorded in Matthew 1:18-25 and the other to Mary is recorded in Luke 1:26-38. Since Mary was told first let’s consider first the announcement to Mary.
The Announcement to Mary
“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth…to a virgin (Luke is quite clear in his vocabulary – “a virgin”) pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you… Don’t be afraid. You have found favor with God.”
Then came this amazing announcement, “You will be with child, and give birth to a son. You are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.“
Mary was puzzled. She responded with a very understandable and logical question: “How will this be since I am a virgin?” She knew that she had never slept with any man, so how could she possibly be expecting a baby?
The angel answered,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God…For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary then humbly accepted the Lord’s word. “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said.” The angel then left her.
The Announcement to Joseph
Joseph was a carpenter in Nazareth of Galilee, a town 70 miles north of Jerusalem. He was engaged to be married to this young woman Mary, who was probably only in her teens. Betrothal was a very serious thing in those days. It was promised before witnesses, and unfaithfulness in that period of time carried the same penalty as adultery – death by stoning.
What a blow therefore for him to discover, as they prepared to get married and to complete the betrothal period, that his fiancée was pregnant. He knew that he was not the father. Who then was? It must have been a terrible and bewildering shock to him.
Of course, he could have brought a lawsuit, but he decided instead that a quiet divorce would be the best answer. Then the Lord sent an angel to him in a dream and said,
Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son. You are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins… (the name Jesus means, “the Lord saves”).
He doubted no longer. He married Mary and in due time the baby was born, not in Nazareth as you know, but in Bethlehem. The newly-weds had made the long and hazardous journey to Bethlehem at this seemingly very inconvenient time because of a decree from the Roman Emperor, Augustus. In fact, behind Augustus’ decree was God’s decree. It was God’s will that his Son, the Messiah, should be born in Bethlehem. God had inspired the prophet Micah to prophesy it centuries before (Micah 5:2).
Reader, always remember that behind the decrees of men, be they the most powerful in the earth, are the decrees of our Sovereign God.
“He works all things after the counsel of His will,” and “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.” (See Ephesians 1:11; Proverbs 21:1)
In a world of turmoil and uncertain future, isn’t this reassuring? And very relevant!
So, the Son of God was born, given the name “Jesus,” with Joseph becoming his foster father and legal guardian. We are told that Joseph had no intimacy with his new wife until after Jesus was born, but then they took up normal marital relations, had natural children, who were, of course, the half brothers and sisters of Jesus. (See Matthew 1:25; 12:46-50; John 7:5.)
Some people ask why there are no other accounts except these two? Why is there no account in the Gospels of Mark or John? Why is there no reference to the Virgin Birth in the Acts of the Apostles or the Epistles?
a) One answer is that God chose it to be so. God himself is the Author of the Bible. It is his Book. And the author of a book has the right to choose what he will put in his book and what he will leave out. There are many things in the New Testament which are very important yet they appear only once.
b) But there may be another reason. Since we are told Mary “treasured all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:51) maybe there was some mystery about the circumstances of Jesus’ birth for a while. Maybe the early preachers decided not to draw any attention to it for Mary’s own sake, to spare her blushes. Who would believe such a story anyway? Even Joseph, who loved her so much, could not believe her story until God intervened. To have drawn attention to it, therefore, would only have been to invite further scorn and opprobrium upon this pure woman.
Such reticence was further encouraged by the fact that it was not necessary for the early Christian preachers to speak of the Virgin Birth because there was plenty of other evidence that pointed to the divinity of our Lord Jesus. His life, his teaching, his miracles and especially his resurrection did so. The Resurrection was to be the sign which was to be preached around the world.
c) Eventually, however, the true facts needed to be told. Christianity is based upon historic truth. We should always remember that. Christianity is not basically about ideas, even less about legends and myths. It is not even, primarily, a system of ethics. Ethics are important, as are ideas, but they are not the foundation upon which Christianity stands. It is founded upon an event in history. It is about a person who came; who was born; who lived and who died; who rose again and went to heaven, and with whom we can have a personal relationship. It is about facts.
Christianity is based upon real events, so the truth had to be told.
It had to be told also because of false stories which continued to be circulated. For instance, in John 8:41, when the Lord Jesus is having one of his arguments with the Jewish leaders, they turn to him in ridicule and scorn and say to him, “We are not illegitimate children..” (KJV “We be not born of fornication.”) Do you hear the sneer? Do you see the curling of the lip? “We know your unsavory background, Jesus of Nazareth, we know what you are!”
So, Matthew and Luke were led to reveal the true story of Jesus’ birth.
d) Besides which, there began to be a heresy circulating that Jesus was never really a true human being…he was a phantom! He just appeared, and then disappeared. This teaching was called “Docetism” after the Greek verb for “to seem.” The Docetists asserted that Jesus only seemed to be human. You would reach out to touch him and he was not there and as he walked his feet left no imprint.
He was never truly born, they said, and he never truly died. They were so convinced of his deity, you see, they began to deny his humanity and so here was another compelling reason to reveal the truth.
The Letters of John were written partly to counter the Docetic heresy. See especially, 1John 1:1-3; 4:1-3; and 2 John 7.
Matthew and Luke, friends of Mary, and no doubt with her permission, told the true story. Yes, Jesus was born and shared our full humanity, except he was conceived of the Holy Spirit and his mother Mary was a virgin.
By the way, it is worth noting, there is nothing in the rest of the New Testament against the Virgin Birth. Nowhere is Joseph called by the apostles, the father of Jesus.
2 THE SIGNIFICANCE
Why was the Virgin Birth necessary? Why is it important? Let me suggest to you seven reasons.
The first reason why Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary was to fulfill prophecy.
It says this quite clearly in the text. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.” So, the Bible itself gives us a reason. It is not the only reason, but it is an important reason.
Matthew quotes Isaiah 7:14 which reads,
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child, and will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel. (KJV, ESV)
Matthew then translates Immanuel, “which means, ‘God with us.'”
Someone may be thinking, “Well, that’s not a very good reason for the Virgin Birth – just to make an old prophecy come true.”
I say, it IS a good reason. You see this prophecy in Isaiah was really GOD’S prophecy. God’s Word was on the line. Every prophecy God has given either has already been fulfilled or will be fulfilled in the future. How can we be so sure all the prophecies concerning Jesus’ Second Coming will be fulfilled? Answer: because all the prophecies concerning his First Coming were! Down to the last detail.
Remember, fulfilled prophecy is one of the ways God authenticates the Divine inspiration of Holy Scripture.
(ii) Jesus Came from Heaven
The second reason for the Virgin Birth was to show that Jesus came from heaven into this world. He was sent into it with a mission. He was not of this world. He was Extra-Terrestrial. Jesus did not begin when he was conceived. You did, and I did. The Bible denies reincarnation. We only come into this world once. You did not exist before you were conceived. There was a time when you were not, and there was a time when I was not, but there was never a time when God, the Son, was not. He has always been and he came into this world as Jesus of Nazareth.
John, in that wonderful Prologue with which he opens his Gospel (echoing Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning God…”) writes,
In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made. Without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life and that life was the light of men (John 1:1-4).
But then he says, verse 9,
The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world...
and verse 14,
…The Word became flesh and lived for a while among us.
Clearly by “the Word” and “the Light” John is referring to the Lord Jesus who is as eternal as God is eternal but who came into this world to fully share our humanity. We call this “incarnation” – after the Latin for “become flesh.”
That is different from the way he had been here previously. Previously? Yes, he had made temporary appearances before to some of the Old Testament people (See Gen 3:8-9; 16:7-14; 18:16-33; 32:30; Joshua 5:13-15). Theologians call these “theophanies”, from two Greek words “God” and “appearance” – appearances of God. But they were brief visits and then he was gone. This time was different.
He was coming “in the flesh.” He would share our humanity. He would be conceived in the womb of a woman, grow through those nine months of pregnancy, be born, be nursed, be trained, be taught, go to school, learn a trade, and live as a man. He would share our physical life, our emotional life, and our social life. He would live under a political regime, and pay his taxes. (What could be more human than to have to pay taxes? Nothing ever changes!) He would become a carpenter and then a teacher. He would grow weary, be disappointed and be sorrowful. He would pray and ask for prayer. He would go to the synagogue and worship.
But then would come the time when he would go to the Cross, for that was his destiny and his mission. He was born to die. Phantoms don’t die. Neither do theophanies. He would be buried in a tomb, and on the third day would rise again. After forty days he would return to heaven; mission accomplished.
The Lord Jesus came from heaven and took flesh, and then he returned to heaven, taking his humanity with him. Jesus said “No-one has ever gone into Heaven” (i.e.- with a glorified human body) “except the one who came from Heaven–the Son of Man” (John 3:13).
(iii) Two Natures
The third reason for the Virgin Birth is because the Lord Jesus has two natures. He is both human and divine. Not fifty percent of each, but one hundred percent. Two natures in one person. That is beyond our comprehension. A great deal of truth and theology is beyond our comprehension. That doesn’t mean it is irrational. It means it is beyond reason. It is supra-rational. Our reason takes us so far, but when we begin to get into the revelation of God, we find mysteries which are beyond us. It is like wading into the ocean until our feet cannot touch the bottom. Eventually, in its deepest places, it is fathomless. Even less can the finite fathom the infinite. We humbly bow our finite minds before God’s truth and just believe. “Without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11: 6).
Jesus was born of God and of woman. He is God and man. Galatians 4:4, “When the time had fully come God sent his son, born of a woman.” Paul does not say, “Born of human parents,” but he says, “born of a woman.” He was conceived of the Holy Spirit because God was his Father sharing, therefore, all the attributes of deity; but born of a woman, Mary, that he might share all the attributes of our humanity – as we have seen. I do not know the biology of it. Did Mary provide twenty-three chromosomes and the Holy Spirit twenty-three more? I guess so. We are not told. It is a mystery and a miracle.
Is it a stumbling block to you that Christian truth contains things which are beyond your understanding? Surely not. Should we not expect that to be the case? Whenever I hear astronomers talking about the wonders of the universe; the stars and galaxies; the immense distances which seem to have no end – I say, “It is beyond me, I cannot contain such concepts.” For that matter I cannot understand this computer on which I am writing. If merely human, down-to-earth things are too deep for us (God’s world), what should we expect when we wade into the waters of theology – the study of GOD HIMSELF?
Do you know that the Jewish father always had the privilege of naming the child? But Joseph did not choose the name of this child because God had already told him what he should be called. God had that right because God was his Father.
(iv) He is Immanuel – God with us.
Our text draws our attention to that. God had promised through this prophecy of Isaiah that one day he would visit his people in a way he had never done before. Not a “theophany“, not filling the heart of a prophet with the Holy Spirit, not as a vision or a dream, not as a pillar of cloud or fire, all these he had done. This time God would be born, in the person of his Son, and live a human life amongst us for thirty-three years. One sign that this had at last happened would be that a virgin would conceive and bear a son.
This wonderful son of Mary and of God would one day declare, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father,” and “I and the Father are one.” (John 14:9; 10:30) By his oft use of the divine name “I AM…” Jesus declared himself to be God. His enemies in their blindness sought to stone him as a blasphemer but those who by sovereign grace had their eyes opened to truly see his divine identity, cried for joy, “Immanuel, God with us.” (Luke 10:21-24; Matt 16:16-17)
Is it not a matter of great comfort as well as joy, that if we wish to know what God is like, we have only to look at Jesus? What a comfort to see such love and such grace and know that is the heart of God. The mission of Jesus was two-fold; to show us God and to reconcile us to God.
O friend, when you look at Jesus, who do you see?
(v) Without Sin
Fifth, Jesus was born of a virgin that he might be without sin. Though he was given a human nature yet it was not a sinful one. That was the one difference between his human nature and ours. Theologians talk about “original sin.” What is original sin? Well, there are two original sins. The first original sin was Adam’s sin, wasn’t it? But then we mean by original sin the fact that we, who are children of Adam, are born with a flaw. We are born somehow with a corrupt nature, with a tendency to sin.
There’s something wrong with us, even the best of us. There is no one perfect. When we read a biography of some great person which has obviously been written by a sycophant, trying to make out that this woman, or this man (statesman, preacher, missionary) was without faults of any kind; we put it aside and say, “It isn’t really true. It’s a whitewash. There has never been anyone like that save one, the Lord Jesus Christ. When is somebody going to write the truth?”
When I was studying theology at the University of London, my professor confessed to a change of mind on this question of “original sin.” He was a Liberal in his theology. That is to say he was not subject to the authority of the Bible and did not believe all that the Bible teaches. One of the many things he did not believe in was original sin. A baby is born, he thought, inherently good. He learns bad behavior from others. If we could only give him love and kindness and set before him a good example, he would grow up good.
Then this professor’s wife gave birth to their first baby. They surrounded the child with love and kindness and set before him a good example. They also soon changed their minds about original sin. Our professor told us that he had concluded that his child was totally depraved!! Don’t we know it? We see it in our children but we also see it in ourselves. We say with the great Apostle Paul, “the good I would I do not and the evil I do not want to do is the very thing I do” (see Rom 7:14-20).
The chain had to be broken. Somebody had to be born who was not a child of Adam. Not because somehow, biologically, sin is passed only through the father. It may seem to be inferring that, but that is not the case. Both men and women are born with a sinful nature. Mary herself needed a Savior, as she in fact declared in her great hymn of praise, which we call “The Magnificat.” Nevertheless, because Jesus was virgin born, the sinful line was broken. I do not profess to fully understand this, it is obviously not just a biological matter, yet it is significant. Jesus was born without Adam’s sin.
Jesus declared himself to be without sin. In John 8:29, he said, “I always do what pleases him (God)”. He said, John 8:46, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” Can you imagine any of us ever saying that? Or anybody at any time ever saying that? It is this writer’s aspiration to “always do what pleases Him” but I fall a long way short of that, don’t you?
“Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” It would not take our friends and family very long, would it? What arrogance – unless it is true. What self-righteousness – unless it is true. All the truly great spiritual leaders have been those who have been most conscious of sin. The nearer they got to the light of God the more they seemed to be aware of their failings. Furthermore, Jesus condemned self-righteousness as the greatest sin, a sin which alone seems to have brought forth his anger; yet he asserted that he, himself, always did what pleased God. Either that was true or Jesus was the biggest sinner of all time standing self-condemned!
But others confirmed it.
2 Cor 5:21, “He had no sin.”
Hebrews 4:20, “He was tempted in every way as we are, yet was without sin.”…7:26, “Holy, blameless, set apart from sinners.”
1 Peter 2:22, “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
1 Peter 1:19, “He was a lamb without blemish or defect.”
He had to be “without blemish.” He was one with us to represent us, and die in our place, and yet he was not a child of Adam so that he might offer himself spotless and pay the price for our sins. A perfect sacrifice. A sinner could not have been a substitute for sinners.
(vi) It was Fitting
Sixth, he was born of the virgin Mary because – and I can only put it to you like this – it was fitting that he should be. The Scriptures often speak of God’s ways as “most fitting,” most appropriate. Everything God does is fitting.
It was fitting that God’s Son should be born of a woman who had never known a man. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem it was on a colt on which never man sat. When he died on the cross and was buried in a tomb, it was in a tomb that had never been used. It was fitting. When Jesus came into the world born of a virgin, a new humanity had begun. Adam is the progenitor of one humanity, and Jesus Christ (the Bible calls him, “the last Adam”) is the progenitor of a second humanity, a renewed humanity, a new people. You have a relationship with Adam by birth. Do you have a relationship with Christ by a new birth? Are you a member of the new people “in Christ?”
Some-one may say, “Harry, isn’t this the explanation? Didn’t the writers make up these stories because they felt they couldn’t have Jesus being born in the same way as everyone else? How inappropriate that would be. Did they not invent some stories to give Jesus, their hero, this great religious leader, some supernatural entrance into the world – with all the trimmings, as it were? As you say, ‘It was fitting.’”
No. I am not saying that Matthew and Luke thought it was fitting, but that Almighty God thought it was fitting. If the Virgin Birth is not really true, and Matthew and Luke just made it up, then how do we know that the Resurrection is true? Or, how do we know that anything about Jesus is true? We may as well say, “Well, I don’t really want myths and legends. I do not need the made-up stories of some fishermen two thousand years ago. I will set my Bible aside. I have no further use for it. I want to know truth.”
And I am declaring to you, in the Name of Jesus Christ, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, who was crucified, dead, and buried, and on the third day rose again from the dead…This is true!
Now please consider this:
If it is not true, then who was the father of Jesus?
It was not Joseph. We know that. Was it a Roman soldier? That has been suggested. There were about twenty-four thousand occupying a country the size of Maryland. Nazareth was on the crossroads of some of the great highways across that part of the world – the caravan trail. Could Jesus’ father have been a traveling peddlar? That too has been suggested. Was Mary promiscuous? Had this young teenager slept around even while she was betrothed to Joseph? Was she a liar? A liar to Joseph, a liar to Dr. Luke, a liar to all the church and to all the Christians? Was she a hypocrite as well who wrote this hymn magnifying the Lord and the grace of God in honoring her, when all the time she knew perfectly well she had been immoral? Did she invent this Virgin Birth story as a cover up?
May I tell you what I think of those suggestions? AN OUTRAGEOUS INSULT TO MARY!!
I suppose atheists and other unbelievers have no alternative but to come to that conclusion, reluctant though the best of them must be. They just don’t believe in miracles because they don’t believe in God. My problem is with those who profess to believe in Christ and even to be his ministers, but who deny Mary’s explanation.
Of course, once you believe “WHO”, then you do not have difficulty believing “HOW”. Who was Jesus of Nazareth? If you believe he was none other than the Son of God becoming flesh, if you believe and accept the Incarnation, why should there be any difficulty in believing that God saw it fitting and appropriate that his Son should be born in a supernatural way?
Some people strain at a gnat and swallow the camel, and I can’t help but wonder if they do really believe that Jesus is God. I suspect not. Some of those preachers who profess to believe in Jesus but say they cannot believe in The Virgin Birth, I wonder which Jesus do they believe in?
Do they believe in the Jesus who was God incarnate? There is no other. Any other is indeed a myth! The mere invention of man. Are they prepared to face up to their slurs upon the character of his mother? You know, unbelief in one area soon leads to unbelief in another. Some years ago a bishop of the Anglican Church wrote a book, “The Myth of God Incarnate.” You see what I mean.
And here is the last reason why God sent him through the Virgin Mary.
(vii) A Gift of Grace
The Lord Jesus is God’s gift of grace to lost sinners, and the Virgin Birth emphasizes that. He was not the product of human union, but “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…,” and if you may allow this, Mary was the parcel that gift-wrapped him when he came into this world. God’s gift. Have you received him as his gift to you?
Many years past we had a lot of gifts under our Christmas tree. We put some extra ones there because we expected certain people to join us for Christmas and we did not want them to be without a gift with their name on it when they came. They all came except one, and there that gift lay, through the 26, 27, 28, through into the New Year, but that person never came. The gift was never claimed.P
Unsaved reader; I want to say this to you in the simplest way I can. There is a gift of God offered to you, and his name is Jesus. He is there for the taking, but if you will reject him, if you will not receive him, then it is not God’s fault, for he has loved you, and he sent from heaven into this world his One and Only Son that you and I may have a Saviour.
3 THE RELEVANCE
Let’s conclude by returning to this question of “relevance.” How does all this about the Virgin Birth apply to you and me in the 21st century?
We have already noted that the trustworthiness of Holy Scripture is at stake. Nothing could be more relevant than to decide whether we will or will not trust that Book which declares itself to be, “The lamp unto our feet and the light unto our path” (Psalm 119:105).
Allow me to emphasize again: if the Virgin Birth is a myth then who shall tell us what is true and what is not? We shall not know. We are left in the dark. We might as well relegate the Bible to the shelves where we keep all other mythological literature. Of antiquarian interest perhaps, rather like Greek mythology, but of no practical relevance. Of what use is a map that is false or a compass that is flawed? And of what use is the Bible as a guide to life’s journey if it is full of legends and lies?
But let us concentrate upon the Person who was virgin-born.
a. Jesus Our Savior
Who else but Jesus can save you? May I ask you again, are you still in your sins? If so then the most relevant issue you can ever face is the issue of your salvation. Do you believe you will live for ever? Of course not. We are all but mortal flesh, here today, gone tomorrow. How brief life is. We flicker for a while “like a candle in the wind” and then it’s over. But what happens after we die. Like a candle, are we snuffed out? No. The Bible says that we are called to meet our Maker. There is a Day of Judgment when every individual will be called to answer for his sins.
My friend if you have committed even one sin, you will be banished forever from the loving and gracious presence of God. We have all alas committed many sins. Our only hope therefore is to cast ourselves upon the mercy of God and cry to Him for forgiveness – and we must do that NOW. If we wait until after we die it will be too late. He has provided a way whereby we may be saved.
This is the Gospel, “God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The primary reason why Jesus came from Heaven to earth was to provide a way of salvation for lost sinners. “Unto you is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11).
But what if Jesus did not come to earth from Heaven to be our Saviour. What if he was not, after all, the sinless Son of God, who took our sins away on the cross? Then we have no Saviour, and we are still in our sins. The crib leads to the cross.
What can be as important or relevant as where you will spend eternity? Problems of marriage or singleness, problems of work, problems of health are all important, of course, but compared with eternity are almost insignificant. This great question must be settled first. Do you know for sure that if you died today God would welcome you into His Heaven? The way to Heaven is through faith in Jesus Christ. He is the only way.
b. Jesus Our Friend
Who can help you like Jesus? Having settled the eternity question, what of these other problems that confront us every day? Is Jesus interested in those?
Yes, he certainly is. The Bible says that he counts every tear, feels every pain, knows every fear and shares every dream of those precious ones for whom he died. He is Immanuel, God with us. He is the Good Shepherd who knows and loves his sheep and gave his life for us. He has promised never to leave or forsake his own.
But if he was not born of the Virgin then who and what is he? The illegitimate child of a deadbeat dad who disappeared leaving the young mother to make up lies? A self-styled messiah with a twisted mind and a severe identity crisis, who foolishly got himself crucified and was gone forever? How can such a person help you? He cannot. He doesn’t exist. He is about as much use to you and me facing our everyday heartaches as Napoleon, George Washington or Julius Caesar! Great men, but gone.
If, however, it is as the Bible teaches us; if Jesus is true; then not only does he have the love to care for you every moment of every night and day, giving you precious promises, but he has the power to act on that love and carry out those promises. “What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.”
My brother or sister; What do you face? Does it seem impossible? Trust him. He knows, he cares (like no-one else cares) and he will bring about whatever is best. Count on it. What is best for him, will certainly be the best for you. Other friends may sympathize with you in your need but are unable to help you. They have no power. But as the angel reminded Mary, “With God nothing is impossible” (Luke 1:37).
c. Jesus Our Lord
Whom would you worship but Jesus? That is, to whom or to what would you ascribe the number one spot in your life? We all worship something or someone. There is only one person worthy of the supreme adoration of our hearts and that person is Jesus Christ, Lord of Heaven and Earth. The humble shepherds bowed before him, kings came from afar bringing their gifts and knelt in homage before a greater King. If the cradle leads to his cross it also leads to his crown.
Thousands of worshipers throng our churches at Christmas time having little or no idea what it means to “worship Christ the new-born King.” They know not who he is or why they are there.
Nothing could be more relevant for daily living than the question, “Who has your heart?” Christian discipleship is a total surrender of one’s heart and life to the Lord Jesus. It is the very opposite of focusing one’s life upon oneself. Self-worship is the spirit of the natural man who is still in his sins and is certainly the spirit of today. Sadly, it has even infected the Christian church. So many of us seem to be interested only in “What can this church offer ME? How can Christ meet MY needs? What will he do for ME?”
Notwithstanding the truth of what I have written above concerning his love for each of his own, the center of gravity of the Christian Gospel is not that he submits to us but that we submit to him.
Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant…may it be to me as you have said.” My friend do you need to say that also? Is it just possible that your heart has been in rebellion? Have you been complaining? Or just, like Mary “…troubled?” Do you not want peace and contentment? Of course, we all do. Then her submission must be our example and her blessing will be our experience.
Yes: Jesus saves and Jesus cares but we should never forget JESUS IS LORD. Then let us gladly worship him who was “…born of the virgin Mary” and give to him our hearts.
Christ by highest heaven adored
Christ the everlasting Lord
Late in time behold him come
Offspring of a virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail, incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Immanuel.