by Frank Luke
FCF: Because we are fallen, we need a divine savior
The Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal son of God. The Scriptures declare 1) His virgin birth; 2) His sinless life; 3) His miracles; 4) His substitutionary work on the cross; 5) His bodily resurrection from the dead; and 6) His exaltation to the right hand of God.
This week, we will focus on the first three: 1) His virgin birth; 2) His sinless life; and 3) His miracles. Before those, however, we will look at why we call Him “the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Scripture Introduction: There are six passages this week, two for each point.
Matthew 1:23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.”
Luke 1:31, 35 “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus…. The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Hebrews 7:26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens;
1 Peter 2:22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH;
Acts 2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–
Acts 10:38 “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.
Point 1. The identification, “The Lord Jesus Christ”
We often use these three words together when speaking about our Lord. The Holy Spirit is never one to waste words in Scripture. So why these three?
First, He is called Lord because He is God. In the Ten Commandments, believers are enjoined to never say the Lord’s name lightly. To be sure they never did this, faithful Jews in the time before Christ took care to never say the name of God. Even now, they will use “lord,” or write “G-d.” When reading the Scriptures that have the name of God, they will read “adonai” (which means Lord) instead of reading His name. The tradition goes back very far. Another way to get around saying “God” is “Heaven.” For example, in the Intertestamental book of First Maccabees, when badly outnumbered, one of the brothers in charge of the army tells his soldiers, “Does it matter to Heaven to win by many or by few?” He doesn’t mean the place. He means the ruler of Heaven.
But, you say, calling a man lord can just mean that he’s a superior to you. This is true, but that is not how Scripture uses it. At the end of John’s Gospel, when seeing the holes in Jesus’ hands, Thomas calls Jesus “my God and my Lord.” That is not the confession of seeing a mere mortal superior! That is seeing the divine savior in His glory.
Back then, Jews always used the word ‘lord’ with great reverence. It wasn’t used flippantly, like ‘boss.’ It was something above ‘sir.’ And, as you know, he who is called Lord must be obeyed. To say “no lord” is to say “not lord.”
The second part is “Jesus” which is His personal name. It is the Greek spelling of the Hebrew name Joshua. Joshua was the successor to Moses, and a very beloved name. It means “Jehovah is salvation.” The angel instructed Mary to give that name to the baby before He was born. This part of the name reminds us that He is human, that He took on humanity’s form, like us, so that He could suffer with us. We do not have a God who is far off and never been through what we have. He is with us as we walk along the way. He has been there and carried that heavy cross all the way to Calvary.
He is a person who lived at a specific time and place in history. Christianity hangs its promises not on a man who lived way back whenever, but a man whose place in time can be located. You can go to Jerusalem and walk along the same way that Jesus did. You can go to the places that are believed to be the Garden, the manger, and Calvary.
The final part of the name is Christ. This is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. It was not a last name. Joseph and Mary Christ did not travel from Galilee to Judea. It is a title. It means “anointed one” and was used first to speak of kings and priests who were doing the work of God, it came to mean a very certain promised one.
Think about what we see from that full identification. Lord means He is God and He is in charge. Jesus reminds us that He is a man, the savior of the world, the lamb slain for sins. Christ means He is the Messiah, the promised one.
Point 2. His virgin birth (Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:31, 35)
Atoning for the sins of man required a human being. God the son had to become a human being. Revelation tells us this “lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world.” God’s first promise in Scripture after Adam and Eve ate of the tree is that “the seed of the woman” will be an eternal enemy of the serpent who had just tempted them into sin. That’s an odd way to put it. A child is the man’s seed, but God here says the woman’s seed. That indicates the promised seed will be special.
As we go along in Scripture, another promise is given. This time, King Ahaz is in trouble. Armies threaten his kingdom. He considers making an alliance though the ally is untrustworthy. The prophet Isaiah comes to him and says that God will give a sign. Ahaz has a moment of false piety and says he will not ask for a sign. Isaiah gives him a sign anyway. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive…”
Now that’s got to get your attention. Everyone knows that virgins don’t conceive. We might look back on prior times and wrongly think them stupid because they don’t have all the cool toys we do, but they knew this fact of life. Virgins don’t have children.
Jesus had to come as a man so that He would have man’s nature. Jesus had two natures, God and human, both at 100%. He was fully human and fully God. That allows Him to be the mediator between God and us. We have one nature, and it is broken. He has two, and they are complete and perfect. We have Adam’s nature, a sinful nature, but the Holy Spirit protected Him from the broken part of the human nature.
Before we go to the next point, I want us to see one more thing in the announcement in Luke. All three members of the trinity are named in it. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… the power of the Most High will overshadow you… shall be called the Son of God.”
In Romans 5, Jesus is called the Second Adam. Just as the first Adam had no human father, neither did Jesus. In fact, Luke calls Adam the “son of God” in Luke 3. This draws the two together in a theme. They aren’t the son of God in the same way, but they are the both the son of God. Paul continues that the first Adam failed but the second Adam succeeded. Can’t you get excited about that. That victory over sin, and Jesus was tempted to sin just as we are, made it possible for all of us to be victorious!
Seed of the woman. The virgin born. Detailed in Matthew and Luke’s gospels to show us that He is both human and divine. While Mark and John don’t say virgin born, both of them let us know that Jesus’ birth was known to be unusual. In fact, neither Mark nor John tell us anything about Jesus’ childhood. Matthew and Luke do. In Mark, Jesus is called Mary’s son. That’s odd. A person was called by their father’s name. In Matthew, Jesus refers to Peter as “son of Jonas.” In John, the Pharisees accuse Jesus of being illegitimate. Paul calls Jesus the “son of the woman.”
While the Virgin Birth is not repeated all over Scripture the way the death and resurrection are, it forms an important part of how we view Jesus. He is all man and all God. His human nature and divine nature together make Him the link between God and man.
At this time of year, the old lie runs around that Christians use December 25 as Christmas because they were trying to overtake a pagan holiday. Actually, we can read they they choose that date. It wasn’t just grabbed from the air. The early church writes about why they took December 25. It’s because they were working from a tradition that important men died on the anniversary of their conception. Since Jesus’ date of death is known, 14 Nisan, they calculated the year in which He would have been born and the date of birth then falls on December 25th. Our Eastern Orthodox brethren celebrate Christmas on January 7. That is because they calculated a different year of death. The Jewish calendar does not line up with our calendar exactly, so dates from one year to the next can be in different places against ours.
Point 3. His sinless life (Hebrews 7:26; 1 Peter 2:22)
Since Adam, we have all fallen. We’re born with original sin on us. As David said, “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps 51:4). Jesus had no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth.
There are many things I can imagine. I can imagine a person who likes dry toast with warm milk. I can imagine not doing certain things in the past. I can imagine making different decisions. I can imagine not doing many sins, but I can’t imagine being completely sinless. I would like to be, but I won’t be.
The Messiah had to be sinless to make the sacrifice for us because sin was the problem. Some say it takes a thief to catch a thief, but to atone for sin once and for all required a high priest with no sin who was also the sacrifice.
Mankind desired a solution and it had to come from outside themselves. But it had to be a man to do it. We needed a high priest without sin. And with the sin nature in us already, the Messiah had to come in such a way as to avoid that sin nature: hence, the Virgin Birth. By not having a human father, He had no original sin.
Understand me, He was tempted. We are told about the temptation in the wilderness several times. Later, we read that He was tempted in every way we are but never sinned. Something to conclude from this: temptation is not sin. I’ll repeat. It is not a sin to be tempted. If it were, Jesus would have sinned. However, Jesus overcame the temptation. And God promises to provide a way out for us when we are tempted to sin. God never desires for us to sin, and He never makes a situation where the only choice is to sin.
A very old heresy says that since we ought to live a sinless life, God has made such within our grasp. That is, by sheer force of will and careful actions all our life, we can be without sin. The originator of this heresy also concluded that Adam’s sin marred his soul but not anyone else’s. There’s a reason the church condemned that teaching hard!
This argument against original sin is refuted in Scripture many times. Let us look at Romans 5, just for an example:
• “Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned” (verse 12).
• “Many died by the trespass of the one man” (verse 15).
• “The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation” (verse 16).
• “By the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man” (verse 17).
• “One trespass resulted in condemnation for all people” (verse 18).
• “Through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners” (verse 19).
Six times in eight verses. You can add to that Romans 3:10-18; Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:1; and many others. Gee, it’s almost like God is making sure we know that we sin because it’s in our nature.
But we do know that God wants us to live perfect lives. He says twice, “be perfect, for I am perfect.” So how? Jesus is our example. How do we live a perfect life? We ask God to change our nature. Our old nature will take us to sin. When God removes the heart of stone, as the prophet calls it, He replaces it with a heart of flesh. That’s the new nature, from God, that can overcome sin. That’s the only way. Change out that old nature for a new one. This is the nature that Christ had, unmarred by original sin and completely uncorrupted.
However, we will make a choice. You see, every part of mankind has been touched by sin. Every part of us has been corrupted. We are not as we should be. Only a man could make the needed sacrifice, but only God would be without sin. Hence, the God-man. Hence, God the Son came down as a man, born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and make the sacrifice that we could not.
Point 4. His miracles (Acts 2:22; Acts 10:38)
When we think about what makes Jesus the Messiah, His miracles are on the list but a little ways down. For the early church, the miracles of Christ played a major role in proving He was from God. It was believed back then that miracles could not be done unless the person was a prophet of the God most High. When Jesus did miracles, they noticed that He was not in the power structure of the day. He wasn’t a priest.
While some believe that the ancient world was very open to miracles and saw miracles in every little thing no matter how mundane, the time of Jesus was actually very skeptical of claims to miracles. They had to be investigated and authenticated. It wouldn’t do to just claim they had happened. This is similar to Paul challenging his critics to come to Jerusalem and see where it all happened.
But Jesus’ miracles showed that He was from God. Miracles still happen today. Jesus promised that we would do greater miracles than He did. And we even see this happening in the New Testament. Jesus touched people to heal them, but Peter’s shadow falling across a man brought healing.
As the Gospel of John tells us, the things that Jesus did could not be contained if all the books in the world were added up. There were places when He healed many, and places where He healed few because of their lack of faith. His hometown was one of the places where He healed few. Also in John, Jesus staked His reputation on the miracles, “at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves” (John 14:11).
How do we know if a miracle is real? Beyond the question of seeing it with our own eyes or having a person we trust confirm it, what makes a miracle a real miracle? Is it how it goes against the laws of nature? We know that Satan can perform tricks to delude others. Consider other religions that have miracles in their traditions. Do you think they were so fooled they wrote things that didn’t happen? No, they happened, but they were not from God.
The main question we should ask about a miracle is this: Does it glorify God? That is the heart of the matter. A genuine miracle will glorify God. A counterfeit miracle will distract from God. All of Jesus’ miracles pointed to God and glorified God.
What will you do with the Messiah? He is our Lord Jesus Christ. Do you act like you believe it? Maybe you don’t or didn’t until today. Take this time to come to God. Make things right! You will never have a better chance than right now. In some ways, He is not like us. He was born of a virgin, lived a sinless life, and performed miracles. Those first two are completely out of our capabilities. We’ve already been born and are sinful. Miracles can happen at our hands only by His grace and to His glory.
However, we can be made spotless by His actions. If we put our faith in Him, He will remove our sin. That miracle can be granted at anytime. All you have to do is respond to that call on your heart right now. Respond and repent, turn from your sins.
Faith, the kind of faith He gives, will always be responded to. That’s a miracle waiting for you.
Please visit Frank Luke’s blog where this article is also posted.