Monday, September 8, 2008

the incarnation

The basic outline for my sermon last night at Senior High youth group was this:
The Incarnation: prophecy, its fulfillment and the purpose

I used several birth prophecies of Christ from the Old Testament.
The genealogies of Jesus:
Of Shem Genesis 9:26-27
Of Abraham Genesis 22:18
Of Isaac Genesis 17:21
Of Jacob Genesis 35:10-12
Of Judah Genesis 49:8-12
Of Jesse Isaiah 11:1-5
Of David 2 Samuel 7:12-16; Jeremiah 23:5; Psalm 89:3-4

All fulfilled in the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3

Born of a virgin

Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign, “Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Emmanuel."

Fulfilled in Matthew 1:18

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way, when his mother, Mary, had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit…All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: (quote Isaiah 7:14)

Luke 1:34

And Mary said to the angel “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

I stayed for awhile on this point, which is under constant attack from many fronts, because if you toss out that Mary was a virgin you have to toss out Matthew, Mark, and Luke as reliable witnesses. That means that Acts is gone as well. It creates a snowball affect that destroys any attempts to validate the New Testament. Jesus was born of a virgin, a girl who'd never had sex, and conceived in the Holy Spirit.

I also talked about the complicatedness of the following prophecies all having to hit at the same time:
Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
Star to appear (Numbers 24:17)
Gifts from Kings (Psalm 72:10)
Slaughter of children (Jeremiah 31:15)
Flight to Egypt (Hosea 11:1)
Date of birth and death (Daniel 9)
Before Judah loses its right to rule (Genesis 49:10)

Then I talked of the significance of all these being true, that, indeed, Jesus was fully human, but that he also was the son of God (Psalm 2:7...fulfilled throughout the NT but especially Matthew 3:17; Luke 1:35; John 3:16; 1 John 5:20.)

Finally, the purpose of teaching the humanity of Jesus is found in Galatians 4:4 and a portion of Hebrews 2.

The basics of it are these:
To destroy the work of the devil
To deliver us from the fear of death
To be merciful to us when we are tempted
To receive adoption as sons
To become the propitiation of our sins.

Hebrews makes it very clear that it was necessary for Jesus to become like us, flesh and blood, so that his death would mean our guilt removed. If God were to have sacrificed his "eternal" nature (by somehow killing himself in the heavenly realms) then he would cease to exist and therefore our salvation and our world would be lost. Instead, he humbled himself to the point of death on the cross so that he could assume our punishment in bodily form without sacrificing his eternal nature to express his love in our salvation and joy.

It is in all of this that we rest. Jesus had to be human for all these reasons and with John we claim if you "deny that the Christ came in the flesh" then you have no part in salvation. Jesus was fully man. Let us never forget the love and humility it took to garner our salvation.

May our hearts burn within us just like the women in Luke 24.


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