“The Child is Born” – Luke 2:1-20

December 22nd, 2019

Luke 2:1-20

“The Child Is Born”

Aux. Text: 1 John 1:1-4

Call to Worship: Psalm 2

 

Service Orientation:  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.  Think about the implications of this.

 

Bible Memory Verse for the Week:  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. — Luke 2:11

 

Background Information:

  • (Lk 2:1) By linking Jesus’ birth to the census decree of Caesar Augustus, Luke provides his narrative with a firm historical framework (cf. 1:1-4; 3:1-2) and hints at the worldwide significance of seemingly trivial events in Judea. God’s sovereign control over history is evident as Caesar Augustus, emperor of the world, issues a decree that inadvertently moves God’s plan forward.  Joseph and Mary are required to take the arduous trip to Bethlehem and so fulfill the prophecy of the Messiah’s birth (Mic. 5:2).  The commonness of the birth and the lowly shepherd visitors further confirm that this child, though destined to reign in power and glory (Lk 1:32-33), will first bring good news and salvation to the humble, the poor, and the outcasts.  (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 1, 339)
  • (Lk 2:7) Contrary to the traditional Christmas story, the “inn” was probably not an ancient hotel with rooms to rent and an innkeeper, but either a guest room in a private residence (see 22:11) or an informal public shelter (a “caravansary”) where travelers would gather for the night. In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke uses a different term for a public inn (pandocheion, 10:34).  In any case, crowded conditions force Joseph and Mary from normal lodging to a place reserved for animals.  This could have been (1) a lower-level room or stall for animals attached to the living quarters of a private residence, (2) a cave used as a shelter for animals (as some ancient traditions have claimed), or even (3) a feeding place under the open sky, perhaps in the town square.  The present Church of the Nativity was built in the fourth century over a traditional cave site in Bethlehem.  Whatever the precise location, the commonality and humility of the scene prepare the reader for the paradoxical story of the Messiah, who attains glory through suffering.  (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, Vol. 1, 342)
  • (Lk 2:8) Shepherds are referred to often as those who care for God’s people (see Ps 23:1; Isa 40:11; Jer 23:1-4; Ez 34:23; Jn 10; Heb 13:20; 1 Pt 2:25; 5:2). That the message came to shepherds first, and not to the high and mighty, reminds us that God comes to the needy, the poor in spirit.  Shepherds were despised by the “good,” respectable people of that day.  According to the Mishnah, shepherds were under a ban.  They were regarded as thieves.  The only people lower than shepherds at that particular time in Jewish history were lepers.  Scholars speculate that the only reason flocks were so close in was because these men were keeping the sacrificial animals for the temple.  God comes only to those who sense their need.  He does not come to the self-sufficient.  The gospel is for those who know they need Jesus!  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word – Luke Volume One – That You May Know the Truth, 87)
  • (Lk 2:11) “Christ the Lord” “Christ” (chirstos) is a Greek translation of the Hebrew term māšiah, meaning “anointed one” or “messiah.”  The title has its roots in the identification of Israel’s king – especially David – as the Lord’s anointed, his chosen vice-regent.  From this background the title “Messiah” came to be used in Judaism with reference to the coming king who would bring salvation to God’s people.  A manuscript fragment from the Dead Sea Scrolls says that the Messiah from David’s line will “arise to save Israel”.  (Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary – Volume 1: Matthew, Mark, Luke, 343)
  • (Lk 2:13) “Host” (see: 1 Kgs 22:19; 2 Kgs 6:17; 2 Chr 18:18; Ps 148:2; Isa 6:1-4; Dn 7:20; Jn 12:41; 1 Pt 1:12; Rv 5:11) “A heavenly army host” attempts to reproduce the absence of the articles. A πλήθϛ is a great number, and this host is part of the heavenly army, which is so vast as to be able to send out hosts.  Thousands of angels appeared and filled the expanse of the sky.  All this, indeed, for only a handful of poor shepherds!  It is the way of God.   Στροτιά, “army,” is a fitting term because the angels are mighty spirits, giborium, “that excel in strength,” Ps. 103:20.  Bengel writes that an army here announces peace.  We may add that we can here see what Jesus meant when he said that at his word twelve legions of angels (about 120,000) would come to his aid.  (R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, 133)
  • (Lk 2:13) & (Mt 1: 20) Angels are spiritual beings, created by God, who help carry out his work on earth.  They bring God’s messages to people (Lk 1:26), protect God’s people (Dn 6:22), offer encouragement (Gn 16:7ff.), give guidance (Ex 14:19), carry out punishment (2 Sm 24:16), patrol the earth (Zech 1:9-14), and fight the forces of evil (2 Kgs 6:16-18; Rv 20:1-2).  Both good and evil angels exist (Rv 12:7), but because evil angels are allied with the devil, or Satan, they have considerably less power and authority than good angels.  Eventually the main role of angels will be to offer continuous praise to God (Rv 7:11-12).  The angel who appeared to Joseph was one of God’s messengers, sent to correct Joseph in his dealings with Mary.  (Bruce Barton, Life Application Bible Commentary: Matthew, 16)
  • (Lk 2:19) “Treasured”, “Pondered” “She continued guarding” is the imperfect, which stands out among all the aorists; Mary’s impressions were enduring, and note the perfective force of σύυ in the verb: “guarded closely.” She said nothing – it was all too sacred, too miraculous for her.  But in addition to holding them closely she “continued pondering them in her heart,” the present participle with its durative sense matches the durative imperfect verb.  The idea in the participle is that of throwing things together, comparing, letting one explain and add to another.  We catch a glimpse of the depth of Mary’s character, it was calm and deep, spiritually receptive and strong, steady and persevering in grace.  The Greek conceives the heart as being the seat not merely of the emotions but of the entire personality, will, mind, and emotions.  Mary’s entire personality was involved.  (R.C.H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Luke’s Gospel, 138-9)
  • (Lk 2:20) “Heard and seen” Yet more evidence that Luke’s Gospel is a space time event, a historical reality

 

The question to be answered is . . . What are the implications when the angel says, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord”?

 

Answer:  First, it means this baby has the credentials to be the long awaited Messiah.  Second, it means this baby will save us from that which we are helpless to save ourselves.  Third, it means that, because he is born, he is flesh and blood just like us.  Finally, the angel confirms that this baby is in fact, “Christ the Lord”.  The Messiah is God in flesh.

 

The Word for the Day is . . . Savior

 

What is the angel telling us about the Savior?:

I-  This baby is the Messiah.  (Lk 2:11 see also: Mt 1:17; 16:16-20; 26:63ff; Mk 8:29ff; 14:61ff; Lk 4:41; 9:20ff; 22:67ff; 24:26ff; Jn 1:41; 11:27; 20:31; Acts 3:20; 5:42; 9:22; 17:3; 18:5, 28; 1 Jn 2:22)

 

Here “his people” goes beyond only Israel and ultimately points to the salvation that Messiah offers to the entire world as the son of Abraham (1:1; cf. 2:6; 3:9; 8:11; 16:18).  This salvation brought by Jesus will be the basis of the righteousness of the kingdom of heaven that he inaugurates as the One who fulfills the law (cf. 4:12-17; 5:17-20).  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 77)

 

The greatest of Kings born in the most humblest of place.  God made into flesh (From The Nativity Movie)

 

Our Lord Jesus Christ is both God for man and man for God; he is God’s incarnate Son, fully divine and fully human. (J. I. Packer, Rediscovering Holiness, 26)

 

II-  This baby has come to save us.  (Lk 2:11 see also: Mt 1:21; 27:42; Mk 15:30-31; 16:16; Lk 1:69-77; 2:30; 19:9-10; 23:35, 39; Jn 3:17; 10:9; 12:47; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; Rom 1:16; 5:9-10; 10:9-10, 13; 1 Cor 1:18; Eph 1:13; 2:5-8; Phil 1:28; 1 Thess 5:8-9; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Tm 1:15; 2 Tm 2:10; 3:15; Heb 2; 5:9; 9:28; 1 Pt 3:20-22; Rv 7:1012:10)   

 

The idea of salvation in the Bible in general means some kind of rescue from a threat of destruction or calamity, and the highest, ultimate sense of salvation is rescue from the worst of all possible calamities.  The worst calamity that could ever befall human beings is to fall under the judgment of God for their sin.  That is the calamity that awaits every person who does not rush to Christ for salvation.  However, the baby is called “Jesus” because He is a savior, and He will save His people from the consequences of their sins.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 24)

 

It is ever God, God alone, who in and through his Son, saves his people.  While some trust in chariots and some in horses (Ps 20:7), in physical strength, knowledge, reputation, prestige, position, magnificent and impressive machinery, influential friends, and intrepid generals, none of these, whether operating singly or in conjunction with all the others, is able to deliver man from his chief enemy, the foe that is little by little destroying his very heart, namely, sin; or, as here, sins, those of thought, word, and deed; of omission, commission, and inner disposition: all those various ways in which man “misses the mark,” God’s glory.  It takes no less than the atoning death of Jesus and the sanctifying power of his Spirit to cleanse hearts and lives.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 132)

 

My memory is nearly gone; but I remember two things:  that I am a great sinner and that Jesus is a great Savior.  (John Newton as quoted by John Piper, Brothers, We are NOT Professionals, 264-5)

 

Part of the purpose of the virgin birth of Jesus is to show us that salvation does not come from man, but from God.  Salvation is wholly the work of a supernatural God, not the work of natural man.  There is nothing we can do to save ourselves from our sins, which is evident even in the way in which Jesus entered the world.  (David Platt, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Matthew, 20)

 

LUTHER: If we see ourselves as a little sinner, we will see Christ as a little savior

If we see ourselves as a big sinner, we will see Christ as a big savior.

 

Cheer up!   You’re a lot worse than you think you are.  But, Cheer up!  God is more gracious, forgiving, kind and loving than you ever dreamed or imagined.

 

If Jesus is not divine, He cannot have offered a sacrifice of infinite value for His people of the cross.   He cannot be a Savior to save to the uttermost.   He cannot be a Savior to fully satisfy the wrath of God.  (W. Robert Godfry; Against the World, Ligioner Conference Overcoming the World).

 

Martin Luther once wrote a letter to George Spalatin, a Christian brother who had worked with Luther during the Reformation.  Spalatin had a difficult time dealing with overwhelming feelings of guilt over some spurious advice he’d once given.  When Luther learned of Spalatin’s condition, he wrote to him the following:

My faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners. You must by no means make Christ to seem paltry and trifling to us, as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid of imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us.  He must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous, and damnable transgressions and iniquities, yea, from the very greatest and most shocking sins; to be brief, from all sins added together in a grand total…

Dr. Staupitz comforted me on a certain occasion when I was a patient in the same hospital and suffering the same affliction as you, by addressing me thus: Aha! You want to be a painted sinner and, accordingly, expect to have in Christ a painted Savior. You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior and you a real sinner.  For God is neither jesting nor dealing in imaginary affairs, but He was greatly and most assuredly in earnest when He sent His own Son into the world and sacrificed Him for our sakes.  (Steve Brown, What Was I Thinking?; 149)

 

III-  This baby is flesh and blood just like us.  (Lk 2:4-7 see also: Isa 7:14; 9:6; Mt 1:18-23; 22:45; Lk 1:26-55; 2:11; Jn 1:1-14; Acts 2:30; Rom 1:3; 8:3; 9:5; 1 Cor 15:47; Gal 4:4; Phil 2:5-9; 1 Tm 3:16; Heb 1:1-4; 1 Jn 1:1-4 )

 

He was made man, who made man.  He was created of a mother whom he created.   He was carried by the hand that he formed.  He cried in the manger in wordless infancy, he the Word.   Without whom all human eloquence is mute.”  —St. Augustine

 

The virgin birth of Christ is not an optional article of faith.  It is essential to the gospel.  If Jesus was not virgin-born, He had a human father.  If He had a human father, He was not God.  If He was not God, the Bible is false, Jesus Himself was deluded, and we have no adequate Savior from sin.  If Jesus was not God manifest in flesh, the life that was surrendered on the cross was only a human life and could never have taken away the sin of the world.  As man, He could only have given a life for a life.  As God, He laid down an infinite life that was more than sufficient to redeem any number of finite lives.  (John Phillips, Exploring the Gospels: Matthew, 37)

 

From the biblical perspective, the genesis of life in the first place was through the power of the Spirit of life, of the Spirit of God.  Gabriel was declaring to Mary that same power by which the universe was made; that same power that brought life out of the darkness originally is the power that will overshadow her womb and produce a son.  God doesn’t need a human father to bring this to pass.  (RC Sproul, St. Andrew’s Expositional Commentary: Matthew, 24)

 

In the incarnation, Jesus became what we was not without giving up what he was.  Jesus became man by addition, not by subtraction.  (Alister Begg message,  Jesus 101)

 

If Christ had been the son of Joseph and Mary by ordinary generation, would he not have been a human person and as such a sharer in Adam’s guilt; hence, a sinner, unable to save himself, hence also unable to rescue others from sin?  In order to save us, the Redeemer must in one person be both God and man, sinless man.  The doctrine of the virgin birth satisfies both of these requirements.  It reveals to us Jesus Christ, one divine person with two natures: a. divine, b. sinless human.  (William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary: Matthew, 143-4)

 

Reminiscent of John and Colossians is the opening chapter.  Reflecting God’s glory and bearing “the very stamp of his nature,” the Son is the perfect Word, the one through whom supremely God has spoken.  As the son He is superior to angels (1:3ff.) and to all human prophets and leaders (4:3ff.).  Through Him “all things were created” (1:2; cf. Jn 1:3; Col 1:16).

All this demonstrates the depth of condescension of the son in becoming man (2:9, 14), in every respect like ourselves, including being subject to temptation (2:17; 4:15), even having to “learn obedience” (5:8), yet sinless (4:15).  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 270)

 

Apart from Jesus’ being both human and divine, there is no gospel.  The incarnation of Jesus Christ is the central fact of Christianity.  The whole superstructure of Christian theology is built on it.  The essence and the power of the gospel is that God became man and that, by being both wholly God and wholly man, He was able to reconcile men to God.  Jesus’ virgin birth, His substitutionary atoning death, resurrection, ascension, and return are all integral aspects of His deity.  They stand or fall together. If any of those teachings–all clearly taught in the NT–is rejected, the entire gospel is rejected.  (John MacArthur, The MacArthur NT Commentary: Matthew 1-7, 13)

 

That He who is to show God to men, and to save them from their sins, must be born of a woman, is plainly necessary.  Because “the children are partakers of flesh and blood,” He also must “take part of the same.”  That He must be free from the taint in nature, which passes down to all “who are born of the will of the flesh or of man,” is no less obviously requisite.  Both requirements are met in the supernatural birth of Jesus, and unless both have been met, He is not, and cannot be, the world’s savior.  (Alexander MacLaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, St. Matthew 1-8, 9)

 

God made His home with us that we might make our home with Him.

 

In order to save us Jesus Christ had to be in one person both divine and human, divine in order to give his sacrifice infinite value, to deliver us out of the realm of darkness, and to transplant us into the realm of everlasting light (Isa 9:1, 2, 6; Jn 1:1-4; Col 1:13, 14); and human because since it was man who sinned it is also man who must bear the penalty for sin and render his life to God in perfect obedience (Rom 5:18; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-17).  It stands to reason that the Redeemer must be a sinless man, for one who is himself a sinner cannot satisfy either for himself or for others (Ps 49:7, 8; Heb 7:26, 27; 1 Pt 3:18).  There is, accordingly, something special and something common about Christ’s birth.  (William Hendriksen, NT Commentary:  Galatians, 159)

 

IV-  This baby is “Christ the Lord”.  The Messiah is Emmanuel: God in flesh.  (Lk 2:11 see also:  Isa 9:6-7; Mt 1:21; Lk 1:68-77; 2:11; 2:28-34; 19:10; Jn 1:1-14; 29; 3:16-17; 6:27-68; 14:6; Acts 4:12; 16:31; 1 Cor 3:11; 1 Tm 1:15; 2:5; Heb 1:1-4; 1 Jn 1:1-4)

 

(Mt 1) The genealogy of Jesus declared him to be the Son of David.  The story of his birth reveals him as the Son of God.  (Charles R. Erdman, The Gospel of Matthew, 29)

 

The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God.  (C. S. Lewis; Mere Christianity, 154)

 

All other religions say, “Let’s go to God.”   Christianity and the message of Christmas is “God came to us.”

 

From the riches of the universe

To the lowliness of a manger…

From the glory of eternity

To the humility of the cross…

From fellowship with the Father

To the silence of an empty tomb…

…Jesus Christ is Lord of all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worship Point: Worship Christ the newborn King.  The Savior of the world Who became flesh to live the life we were supposed to live and die the death we deserved to die.

Gospel Application: Christmas is Good News of great joy for everyone, for today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.

 

The phrase, God is with us, is no doubt frequently employed in Scripture to denote, that he is present with us by his assistance and grace, and displays the power of his hand in our defense.  But here we are instructed as to the manner in which God communicates with men.  For out of Christ we are alienated from him; but through Christ we are not only received into his favor, but are made one with him.  (John Calvin, Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, 105)

 

If our greatest need had been information, God would have sent us an educator.  If our greatest need had been technology, God would have sent us a scientist.  If our greatest need had been money, God would have sent us an economist.  If our greatest need had been pleasure, God would have sent us an entertainer.  But our greatest need was forgiveness, so God sent us a Savior.

 

The virgin birth signals Jesus’ true humanity without inherited sin.  Through the powerful work of the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary in the conception of Jesus, the unbroken line of the descent of sin was interrupted, so that Jesus was born holy (cf. Lk 1:35).  As a true human, Jesus can empathize deeply with our human experiences and temptations (Heb 4:15-16) and can provide an example of how to overcome temptation.  The sinlessness of Jesus throughout his life is centered in the fact that his divine nature is so powerful in its determination to do good that it cannot be overcome by any temptation to his human nature.  Thus, he is enabled to be the unique, human, sinless sacrifice for our sin.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 86)

 

Heidelberg Catechism questions 12-19

Q12.  According to God’s righteous judgment we deserve punishment both in this world and forever after:  how then can we escape this punishment and return to God’s favor?

  1. God requires that his justice be satisfied (Ex 23:7; Rom 2:1-22). Therefore the claims of his justice must be paid in full, either by ourselves or another (Isa 53:11; Rom 8:3-4).

 

Q13. Can we pay this debt ourselves?

  1. Certainly not. Actually, we increase our guilt every day (Mt 6:12; Rom 2:4-5).

 

14Q. Can another creature—any at all—pay this debt for us?

  1. No. To begin with, God will not punish another creature for what a human is guilty of (Ez 18:4, 20; Heb 2:14-18). Besides, no mere creature can bear the weight of God’s eternal anger against sin and release others from it (Ps 49:7-9; 130:3).

 

Q15. What kind of mediator and deliverer should we look for then?

  1. One who is truly human (Rom 1:3; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:17) and truly righteous (Isa 53:9; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 7:26), yet more powerful than all creatures, that is, one who is also true God (Isa 7:14; 9:6; Jer 23:6; Jn 1:1).

 

Q16. Why must he be truly human and truly righteous?

  1. God’s justice demands that human nature, which has sinned, must pay for its sin (Rom 5:12, 15; 1 Cor 15:21; Heb 2:14-16); but a sinner could never pay for others (Heb 7:26-27; 1 Pt 3:18).

 

Q17. Why must he also be true God?

  1. So that, by the power of his divinity, he might bear the weight of God’s anger in his humanity and earn for us and restore to us righteousness and life (Isa 53; Jn 3:16; 2 Cor 5:21).

 

Q18. And who is this mediator—true God and at the same time truly human and truly righteous?

  1. Our Lord Jesus Christ (Mt 1:21-13; Lk 2:11; 1 Tm 2:5), who was given us to set us completely free and to make us right with God (1 Cor 1:30).

 

Q19. How do you come to know this?

  1. The holy gospel tells me. God himself began to reveal the gospel already in Paradise (Gn 3:15); later, he proclaimed it by the holy patriarchs (Gn 22:18; 49:10) and prophets (Isa 53; Jer 23:5-6; Mic 7:18-20; Acts 10:43; Heb 1:1-2), and portrayed it by the sacrifices and other ceremonies of the law (Lv 1-7; Jn 5:46; Heb 10:1-10); finally, he fulfilled it through his own dear Son (Rom 10:4; Gal 4:4-5; Col 2:17).

 

The messianic Lord is the friend of sinners (e.g., 5:29-32; 7:36-50; 10:30-37; 15:1-2; 17:11-19; 19:1-10).  It is to sinners Jesus promises good news (e.g., 18:9-14; 15:11-32).  The news that Jesus’ birth signals the benefit of peace is intended for all the people.  This is cause for great joy.  (Charles H. Talbert, Reading Luke – A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Third Gospel, 34)

 

Christ was born of a virgin not only because his birth was to be supernatural, and altogether extraordinary, but because it was to be spotless, and pure, and without any stain of sin.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Vol. V, 8)

 

Spiritual Challenge: Don’t let the familiarity of the Christmas story anesthetize you to the incredibly liberating Good News permeating the story.   Discover anew the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus.

 

But God in Christ has gone with us all the way.  He has gone with us all the way into the tomb.  And having gone in with us, he can bring us out with him.  Immanuel!  (John N. Oswalt; The NIV Application Commentary: Isaiah, 146)

 

Spiritual Challenge Questions:

 

 

A-  Terms that describe Jesus are much more prevalent around Christmas time.  But, even though they are not necessarily overused terms they seem to have lost their “punch” with a 21st century, Western Audience.  I mean incarnation, Emmanuel, and miraculous conception are heavy weight words.  Why do you suppose we take them so lightly without another thought? 

 

B-  I’m not sure you could get a 1st century setting more ignoble.  A manger, in a barn or cave, no mid-wife, no hospital, no sanitary conditions, no important people at all!   Shepherds were one of the lowest cast of people in the first century.  Why do you suppose the birth of Jesus was so humble?

 

C-  What should the humble birth of Jesus teach us?   Does it?

 

So What?:  Through Christmas and Emmanuel, God with us, we better understand what God is like, what the world is like and what we SHOULD be like.  We can know the truth and the truth will set us free (Jn 8:32).  And if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed (Jn 8:36).

 

Jesus is the one person who can tell us what God is like, and what God means us to be.  In him alone we see what God is and what man ought to be.  Before Jesus came men had only vague and shadowy, and often quite wrong, ideas about God; they could only at best guess and grope; but Jesus could say, “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).  In Jesus we see the love, the compassion, the mercy, the seeking heart, the purity of God as nowhere else in all this world.  (William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible Series: Gospel of Matthew, 21)

 

In a double sense Jesus Christ was the image of God.  As Son in an immediate and unique sense revealing the divine nature, Jesus was the image of God.  As man He also was the perfect example of what was in the mind of God when He said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gn 1:26).  In Him is revealed ideal man, man in true and perfect fellowship with God, man as the reflection of the grace and goodness of God, showing the inner graces of love, joy, goodness, and such like.  By this, Christ becomes a revelation of what sinful man is; by contrast with Christ he is so obviously short of the glory of God (contrast Jn 1:14 with Rom 3:23).  At the same time He reveals God’s purpose for all who commit themselves to His saving purpose, for into this image God transforms men (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18; cf. 2 Cor 5:17; Col 3:10).  (Merrill C. Tenney, The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible: Vol. Three, 272)

 

The virgin birth of Jesus denotes the beginning stage of the redemption of humanity that had been created in the image of God but had been distorted by the effects of sin.  The process of redemption will involve our becoming alive through the sacrifice he will provide for our sin (2 Cor 5:17-21), but then it will also involve patterning our lives after Jesus (2 Cor 3:18; 1 Pt 2:21).  Jesus is the full image of God (Col 1:15-20); he is the one person whose humanity was never spoiled by sin (Heb 4:15).  Since the outworking of the image of God is seen most fully in Jesus, the Christian life means to pattern ourselves after him.  (Michael J. Wilkins, The NIV Application Commentary: Matthew, 86)

 

We will never again be able to recover the vision and understanding of God’s grandeur until we recover an understanding of ourselves as creatures who have been made to know such grandeur.  This must begin with the recovery of the idea that as being made in God’s image, we are fundamentally moral beings, not consumers, that the satisfaction of our psychological needs pales in significance when compared with the enduring value of doing what is right.  Religious consumers want to have a spirituality for the same reason that they want to drive a stylish and expensive auto.  Costly obedience is as foreign to them in matters spiritual as self-denial is in matters material.  In a culture filled with such people, restoring weight to God is going to involve much more than simply getting some doctrine straight; it’s going to entail a complete reconstruction of the modern self-absorbed pastiche personality.  The cost of accomplishing this may well be deep, sustained repentance.  It is our modernity that must be undone.   Only then will the full weight of the revealed truth about God rest once more on the soul.   Only then will we recover our saltiness in the world.  Only then will God genuinely be known again in his church.  (David Wells; God in the Wasteland, 115)

 

Seen within the context of grace, the NT view of man is neither fully pessimistic nor largely optimistic, but rather melioristic.  Man is not what he may become; he is dependent and unfulfilled, and no genuine realization of his potentialities is possible apart from the restoration of his fractured relationship with his Creator through Jesus Christ.  Man normally exists in society, in human community.  Within this context, he is loved by an everlasting Heart which seeks to draw him into a higher community, through the transformation of his nature by the agency of the divine Spirit, for whose indwelling he has a basic capacity which survived the Fall.

In the Incarnation, the eternal Logos appeared in human form to show what redeemed man might become.  In One who was “very God and very man” man beholds the Image to which he is to be conformed through being transformed by Him who, for us men, shared our common life in the days of His flesh.  In Him man can glimpse human nature as it ought to be, and as it will be when He brings many sons to glory.  (Merrill C. Tenney, Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, vol. 4, 53)

 

However else He might manifest Himself in nature, God could not become incarnate in angels because they were not created in the full image of God.  No other created being approaches the capacity of the human being to “contain God.”  Only human beings have a nature in which God can become incarnate.  God tipped His hand, so to speak, in the incarnation.  By this He dignified the human race and elevated redeemed humanity beyond the highest ranking angelic star in the radiant canopy of the firmament.  (Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne, 34)

 

Because angels were not made in the full image of God and God could therefore not become incarnate in them, the fallen angels cannot be redeemed.  No angel can ever become a member of the family of God.  They are created, not birthed from above; therefore, no angel can become a blood-born son of God.  Angels can never be partakers of the divine nature.

None can ever become a member of the Bridehood.  These marks of privilege and rank have been reserved for redeemed humanity alone.  (Paul E. Billheimer, Destined for the Throne, 34)

 

JESUS:

EMMANUEL

 

 

 

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply