20-12-16 what child is this


Scripture is clear that Jesus was conceived in the womb of his mother by the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit and without a human father. Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18). Luke describes the enveloping work of the Holy Spirit in conception as follows: 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). 

Joseph initially assumed his betrothed had been unfaithful but was persuaded to take Mary (Maryam) home as his wife by an angel who said to him in a dream: “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 (Matthew 1:20). The angel then explained both the purpose of this miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit and and how it fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy from about 700 years earlier: And she will bring forth a Son and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’ So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated ‘God with us’ (Matthew 1:21-23 quoting Isaiah 7:14). 

We should honour both Joseph’s faith and Mary’s and their willingness to accept the inevitable gossip and condemnation from those who were not willing to believe. Jesus himself was to face false accusations from some of the Jewish religious leaders, who aware that Mary was pregnant before her marriage, said  to him “We were not born of fornication” (John 8:41).           


Reasons the virgin birth was essential to our salvation  

The virgin birth (or more properly the virgin conception) is viewed by even some who claim to be Christians as a myth but this is a grave error. As we shall see the virgin birth is essential to our salvation.   


The virgin fulfilled an ancient prophecy of the defeat of Satan

The virgin birth was predicted when God put a curse on the serpent in the Garden of Eden: “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” (Genesis 3:15). The reference to the seed of the woman – ‘her seed’ – is used to emphasise that the biologically essential role of the seed of man in all other human conceptions would have no part in the conception of Jesus. The Saviour would completely defeat Satan. The overshadowing or enveloping power of the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb in the conception of Jesus meant the eternal Son of God came to us in the flesh – the incarnation. 


The Virgin Birth meant Jesus did not inherit a sinful nature from Adam 

The Saviour who would save his people from their sins could only be the perfect sacrificial Lamb of God who would take away the sins of all who believe in Him if he was totally free from sin. The requirement for the Passover lamb was that the “lamb shall be without blemish” (Exodus 12:5). When his cousin John declared, just before Jesus’s baptism, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) he was thus acknowledging that Jesus was sinless. Paul declared the same truth – that Jesus as sinless would thus be a perfect sin offering: For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). When he walked this earth, Jesus did not sin “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:22).  

All believers sin and we are responsible for our own sins. However, we are all born with an inevitability that we will sin because of the ‘sinful nature’ or what the New Testament sometimes also calls ‘the flesh’ (eg Galatians 5:19-21) which is passed down the generations from Adam. Paul thus stated: “…through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned and ‘By the one man’s offense death reigned through the one (Romans 5:12 & 17). As Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and not by a human father, he did not inherit this sinful nature. The virgin birth allowed Him to enter our world bypassing the curse passed down from Adam. Though rightly all generations call Mary blessed, she still needed God as her Saviour because she was not free of sin (Luke 1:46-48). Jesus was not touched by sin from his mother as He was protected by the overshadowing work of the Holy Spirit – so that He would be born as the Holy One (Luke 1:35).

Jesus lived a sinless life of absolute perfection. He was “the Holy One and the Just” (Acts 3:14). He was truly the Lamb of God without blemish – the one who would become the perfect sacrifice for sin. This fulfilled what Joseph was told in his dream by an angel about the child of his betrothed “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) 


The Virgin Birth ensured Jesus was not from the cursed line of Jeconiah 

Matthew was a Levite and as he focused on the Messiahship of Jesus, his genealogy (Matthew 1:1-17) traced the legal line of inheritance of the throne of David, from Abraham through Kings David and Solomon to Joseph. Luke, the physician, focused on the humanity of Jesus and thus traced the blood line of His descent, all the way down from Adam (Luke 3:23-38). The genealogies diverge after King David, as Luke’s genealogy goes through David’s son Nathan, as opposed to through Solomon in Matthew’s genealogy. This is hugely significant as in the line of Matthew’s genealogy is Coniah (also known as Jeconiah and Jehoiachin) who was the penultimate king of Judah who was carried off into Babylon.  King Coniah was the epitome of a time of wickedness; so God declared: Thus says the Lord: “Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.” (Jeremiah 22:30). This curse was not only on Coniah but anyone sitting on the throne who descended from him. Joseph was descended from the genealogical line that came from Coniah. Thus, by not having a human father, Jesus avoided this curse as his blood line was through Mary – but still a royal line from David. Jesus in the coming kingdom will rule and reign from Jerusalem over the house of Jacob on the throne of his father (ancestor) David (Luke 1:32-33).


The Virgin Birth meant Jesus became God in the flesh and is our Mediator  

The virgin birth perfectly united the full deity of the eternal Son of God with full humanity. In this way, he could be a mediator in a way no other man could – reconciling those men and women who believe in him with the Father. As sinless, he could also be our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1). Job (in maybe the oldest book in the Bible) made an anguished heart cry in his desperation that there was no one at his time who could have been a ‘go-between’ to mediate  and bring him close to God: “Nor is there any mediator between us who may lay his hand on us both” (Job 9:33). But Jesus as fully God and fully man could produce this reconciliation. He is the one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim: 2:5).


The fulfilment of the prophetic geography of the Jesus birth  

According to a prophecy by prophet Micah about 700 years before Jesus’s Birth, the Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting (Micah 5:2). The Lord could have chosen to instruct Joseph to head to Bethlehem through a dream or an angel.  However, Luke tells us: And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria.  So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city (Luke 2:1-3). Caesar Augustus, the Roman Emperor, had decided to take a census throughout the Roman Empire. Following Jewish custom, Joseph travelled to his ancestral home: Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David. (Luke 2:4)   The Emperor was also known as Octavian and was proud that in about 27BC, he took the title ‘Augustus’ from the Senate. ‘Augustus’ means ‘the illustrious one’ or ‘the exalted one’. However, this mighty emperor was unaware that One far more exalted than him, was in His sovereignty using the census decision to bring about the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem, just as prophesied. This involved a journey from Nazareth of about 90 miles for Joseph and the heavily pregnant Mary. 

Thus, Jesus was conceived in Nazareth and born in Bethlehem but after he been taken to Egypt by Joseph and Mary (following the divine warning about Herod’s murderous intentions), Joseph would take Mary and Jesus back to Nazareth, where Jesus grew up to manhood : And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene” (Matthew 2:23). The problem is that there is no verse in the Old Testament that cites this prophecy about Jesus being called a Nazarene. Some say maybe the prophecy was passed on by oral tradition. However, there is another explanation. Matthew 2:23 does not say ‘prophet’ but ‘prophets’. There are several prophecies about one called ‘The Branch’ who would be born the in the royal line of David (eg Jeremiah 33:15 – the Branch of righteousness). Isaiah 11:1 (ESV) states: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse (King David’s father), and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. Out of this seemingly cut off royal dynasty came the Messiah Jesus. Significantly, the word in Hebrew for branch is ‘Netzer’. ‘Natzrat’ is the Hebrew   name for Nazareth coming from this word ‘branch’. So, ‘Nazarene’ (a person from Nazareth) identifies Jesus as the righteous branch from David’s royal line referred to by the prophets.         


Stand Amazed!

The wonder of the incarnation – when Jesus was conceived, took on flesh and was born of the virgin Mary, is remembered in worship all around the world, as are all the events in the life of Jesus. The amazing miracle of the virgin birth is celebrated in the carol Hark! The Herald Angels Sing that includes the following wonderful words of truth: 

Christ, by highest heaven adored;
Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Long desired, behold Him come,
Finding here His humble home.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
Hail th’ incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
Jesus, our Immanuel.

Hark! the herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King.”



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