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The Amazing Child of Christmas

Grace To You / John MacArthur
The Truth Network Radio
November 5, 2020 3:00 am

The Amazing Child of Christmas

Grace To You / John MacArthur

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Two ordinary Jewish young people were faced with the most astounding child the world has ever known. And so many astonishing and astounding things were said about Jesus Christ. Joseph and his mother were amazed at those things which were said about him. Welcome to Grace to You with John MacArthur.

I'm your host, Phil Johnson. In 1761, Wolfgang Mozart completed his first composition at age five. In 1895, the artist Pablo Picasso painted A Portrait of Aunt Pepa, which was described as one of the greatest portraits in Spanish history. He was 14 at the time. Remarkable children, without question. But no child can come close to the son John MacArthur looks at today on Grace to You. This child's birth was anticipated for thousands of years, was announced by a host of angels, and brought the hope of salvation to condemned sinners. You're about to see how amazing this child was as John continues his series called The Best of Christmas. It's a collection of some of John's most memorable Christmas sermons from 51 years of ministry.

And now with a lesson, here's John MacArthur. The first couple of chapters of the Gospel of Luke, and I would invite you, if you will, to read parents with a great amount of expectation. When our four children were born, we of course and even to this day continue to have great hopes and great dreams and great desires that they might be everything that they can possibly be for the glory of God. But at best, when a child comes in the world, what we hope for is no more than hope. What we wish for is no more than a wish because the story is not yet written. We do not know what that child will become.

And we wait with great anticipation, with a great degree of anxiety and concern through the years of the unfolding of the life of that child to see what in fact that child will become. That was not true in the case of the Lord Jesus Christ. For at the birth of the child of Bethlehem, all that needed to be known about the child was revealed at the very beginning. There really wasn't any need for hope. There wasn't any need for a wish, a dream, imagining. All was told as to who the child was and why he came and what he would do and how he would affect the world.

So different. Two ordinary Jewish young people were faced with the most astounding child the world has ever known, a child whose life was already clearly laid out and delineated to them from the time of birth, unlike any other child. And so many astonishing and astounding things were said about Jesus Christ that we read in Luke 2 33, and Joseph and his mother were amazed at those things which were said about him. Now precisely what was said about Jesus Christ at his birth that is so astonishing that left his parents with such amazement and awe and wonder? The answer begins to unfold for us in the announcement of the angel to Mary beginning in chapter 1 and verse 30.

Let's notice it. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found favor with God. And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High.

And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of David forever, and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Therefore also that holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. Now it was this announcement coupled with the announcement to Joseph by the angel, coupled with some things that are said of Christ at the end of chapter 2, or close to the end in verses 34 to 38.

These things were what amazed the parents. And I want us to focus on six of them in our examination of the Lord Jesus Christ this morning. First of all, in a general way, would you notice verse 32? And there we read this statement, He shall be great. He shall be great. That same statement was made in chapter 1 verse 15 of John the Baptist, for He shall be great in the sight of the Lord. John the Baptist was to be great. Jesus was to be great. The word can mean extraordinary, wonderful, splendid, magnificent, noble, distinguished, illustrious, eminent, powerful.

It is intended to set one apart from all the rest. John the Baptist was great. He was great because he was the single greatest representative of the prophetic office, the forerunner of the Messiah. In fact, it is said of him that there had been none greater than John the Baptist. The Lord Jesus Christ also is great, that is surpassing and eminent and preeminent and splendid and illustrious and prominent and all of those things the word implies, for reasons other than the greatness of John the Baptist, for reasons which are explained in this very same passage. What made him great?

And what astounded and amazed his parents? We find here six things that identify Jesus Christ in His unique greatness from the very time of His birth. First of all, noticing verse 32, He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Most High. Now that is to say Jesus is God. Jesus is God and that is the unmistakable truth that I want you to deal with in your mind as we begin our look at this passage.

Jesus is God. Now Luke refers to God with the term the Most High, or if you like, the highest. Luke seems to favor that term in identifying God and so did the angel who made the announcement. In verse 35, the angel again says the Holy Spirit shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Over in verse 76, And thou, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High.

This is the testimony of Zacharias when filled with the Holy Spirit. So the angel calls God the Most High, the Holy Spirit through Zacharias calls God the Most High. This term speaks of the sovereignty of God. He is sovereign in every dimension possible, sovereign over nations, sovereign over nature, over the unrighteous, over the righteous, sovereign over the people He has redeemed, and sovereign over all that is evil and all that is good. That is to say He is the Most High. There is none as high as He is. He is God above any other gods. He is God supreme.

Now why is that important? Look back at our text in Luke chapter 1 and notice verse 32. Here comes the message to Mary from the angel and the message is, The Son you bear will be called the Son of the Most High, the Son of the Most High. In verse 35, at the end of the verse, the Son of God, the Son of God. Now what is such a title intended to indicate?

Nothing less than the obvious. Its intent is to say Jesus is God. To say that Jesus is the Son of the Highest is to say that He bears the character, nature, and essence of the Highest.

Son does not imply that God is a great God who begot a sub-God and Jesus is a sub-God. It is to say that Jesus bears the same life, the same essence, and the same nature as God. As Hebrews 1 says, He is the express or the exact reproduction of God's image.

Hebrews 1, 1, and 2 says that. God speaks to us through His Son, verse 3, who is the exact replica of Himself. He is the Son of God. That is to say He bears His Father's life and nature.

That is the essence of the use of that idea here. The child is God. What an incredible, what an amazing, what an astonishing and astounding and almost unbelievable voice ringing in their ears that your child, your little baby that you bear in your womb and hold in your arms is the living God. Matthew also records the birth of Christ and emphasizes this. How is it that God could be born in a human womb? Matthew 1 18 says, She was found with child by the Holy Spirit. Verse 20 says, That which is conceived in her is by the Holy Spirit. And verse 23, The virgin shall be with child, shall bring forth a son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which being translated is God with us. The child is God.

And the child was conceived without a human father. God planted a seed in Mary to create the Lord Jesus Christ. In Luke 1 43, even Elizabeth says to Mary, Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? She recognizes that her relation, her own kin, Mary, is to give birth to the Lord Himself. And in chapter 2 of Luke and verse 11, the angel announces to the shepherds that there will be born this day in the city of David a Savior who is none other than the Messiah, the Lord, the Lord Himself. So the first and amazing message that came to the parents of Jesus was that this child would be God.

God, the Lord. The second and amazing thing and an equally amazing thing is that the child was also man, also man. Back to Luke 1 31 again, And behold, says the angel to Mary, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a son. Now it would be one thing for God to just come into the world, just sort of fly down and arrive, and God could certainly do that. God came and went in the Old Testament without the need of a human leader, without human birth. There are many occasions in the Old Testament when God appeared. He walked and talked in the garden with Adam and Eve. God made appearances over and over again in the life of Israel.

He came down to Mount Sinai. He showed Himself to Abraham. There are times and places where God put on an appearance and He did not need to be born of a woman. But that was because God never before came into the world as man. And now when He comes, He comes not only as fully God, but as fully man, and therefore must be fully born as men are born through the womb and the birth canal of a human woman. And thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son is to emphasize His humanness. The point being that Jesus was born in a normal human manner.

And so this is fully man. And the amazing and astounding thing is, how can a woman bring forth one who is totally human without the aid of a human father? That's as profound a mystery as how the child could be God, for it demands the infinite miracle as well.

This is a real human being. You will notice also in chapter 2 of Luke and verse 40, it says, the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him. Jesus, it says in John 1 14, was the Word made flesh that dwelt among us. In Hebrews, several places the Scripture delineates things about Christ that are essential. For example, in Hebrews 2 17 it says, Wherefore in all things it was fitting for Him to be made like His brethren, in all things made like His brethren. He was in all points, Hebrews 4 15, tempted like as we are, yet without sin. In Galatians 4 4, that wonderful testimony says, In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law.

That is to say, He was born like everybody else. He came into the world like everybody else, from a woman, from a woman, obligated as all human beings are to keep the law of God, made like His brethren in all things. If He was to substitute for man on the cross, He had to be man. If He was to rise from the dead for man, He had to be man.

That's why Paul so wonderfully says we have one mediator between God and man, 1 Timothy 2 5, the man, Christ Jesus. His parents were astounded that He was God. They were astounded that He was man, fully God and fully man, a miracle child. The third amazing aspect of this child, back in chapter 1 of Luke, again in verse 35, is the fact that He was not only God and man, but He was sinless. He was holy.

He was perfect. The angel said, The Holy Spirit shall come upon you. The power of the Most High overshadow you. And that's really all we know about how the virgin birth conception took place. Therefore also, follow this, that holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. This is a holy child. Oh, what a remarkable statement. Think about it. There has only been in the history of the human race reproduction process one holy child born.

Only one. No one has ever produced a holy child except Mary by the power of the Spirit of God. Not only God, man and sinless, but fourthly, His parents were astonished because they were told the child would also be the sovereign Lord, that He would also be King. Back again, please, to verse 32. The Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever. Of His kingdom there shall be no end. He will have an eternal kingdom.

The Lord will give him that throne. This of course fulfills the prophecy of 2 Samuel 7, 11 to 13, which said David someday would have a greater son, one who would come centuries later out of his loins who would take up the throne and reestablish the kingdom and then it would be a kingdom of righteousness and an eternal kingdom and that is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. He was born into the Davidic line. You read the genealogy of Joseph in Matthew 1. You read the genealogy of Mary in Luke's gospel chapter 3 and you will find that this is one born of parents who come from David's loins. Both Mary and Joseph come in the Davidic line and they therefore carried royal blood, which comes together in Christ and He indeed is the rightful heir to the throne of David.

He is not born, as was John the Baptist, to the house of Levi, the priestly house. He is born to the royal house, the house of kings, the house of David. And He has the right to the throne of Israel, which becomes the throne of the world, which becomes the throne of the universe, which becomes the throne of the eternal new heavens and new earth. He is sovereign Lord. This little child, they hear, will receive the throne of his father David and reign in an eternal kingdom.

What an announcement. I mean, it would be enough for some of us if the Lord just said, Your child will grow up to believe. Your child will grow up to be a great missionary. Your child will grow up to be a great teacher.

But the influence of this child is absolutely astounding and staggering and his parents' minds find it hard to even grasp the sweeping statements being made about this small infant. The King of the universe, King of kings and Lord of lords, and the amazement continues. Not only God, man, sinless, sovereign, but fifthly, his parents were told that he would be the Savior, the Savior. Verse 31, and you shall call His name Jesus. And to Joseph it was said, recorded in Matthew 1 21, call His name Jesus, which means God saves, for He shall save His people from their sins. I mean, it would be enough for anyone to know they were going to bear God. And then God who is fully man and who is absolutely holy and who is the sovereign Lord of the universe. And now to find also that He is the Savior of all the human race who come in faith.

Incredible child. Chapter 2, verse 11, the angel announcing to the shepherd says, unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord. By the way, that's the only place in the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where Jesus is called Savior in that very term, although it appears elsewhere in the New Testament. He is born a Savior. In chapter 2, verse 30, Simeon rejoices. He says, mine eyes have seen Thy salvation as he holds that child.

In verse 38, Anna the prophetess who is a widow of many, many years and has been in the temple serving God with fasting and waiting for the coming of redemption rejoices for the redemption that has arrived in Jerusalem and spreads the word to all who are looking for that redemption. Yes, He came as a Savior. Paul said Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. Jesus said in Luke 19, 10, the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost. And Hebrews 10, 5 to 7 says that since the blood of bulls and goats and all the animal sacrifices couldn't take away sin, God formed a body for Christ that He might come into the world to take away our sin, to sanctify us, to remove our sin, to destroy our enemy, to bring us to spiritual perfection, to make us new creations. And we are complete in Him, He says, for by one offering He has sanctified us forever.

Yes, this is the Savior. This is the one born to die for the sins of the world. There is over the manger the shadow of a cross, and that shadow remained all his life long until he went to that cross. For this reason He said, I came into the world. I am come to die because from the very start He was to be the Savior. The only way to save men from sin is to pay the penalty of their sin, which is death, and Jesus comes to die.

Yes, there was astonishment at the birth of Christ because of who the child was, and His parents were amazed at what they were told. Finally, they were told by Simeon in chapter 2 verse 34 and 35 that this child would be the determiner of every human being's destiny. He is the determiner of every person's destiny. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel, and a sign which shall be spoken against, Yea, a sword shall pierce your own soul also, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. He is a revealer of the heart, and He is a determiner of destiny. It is what you do with Jesus Christ that determines whether you fall or rise again. Your eternal destiny, your falling into a pit of hell, your rising into the glories of heaven depends upon Christ. Yes, the most astonishing child that ever lived.

Little wonder verse 33 of chapter 2 says, And Joseph and his mother were amazed at those things which were said about Him. I trust that same wonder and amazement is in your heart as you hear those great realities again. You're listening to Grace to You with John MacArthur, Chancellor of the Masters University and Seminary. John's current study is titled The Best of Christmas. John, I've heard you talk many times about the clutter that comes with Christmas, the materialism and the busyness of the season, that crush of activity that starts so long before the holiday. And some people might say that we're part of that problem because we're airing Christmas lessons so early here on Grace to You. But there's actually a much different and more spiritual reason than that.

It's a strategic thing. So talk about that a bit. Well, yeah, I mean, we're not going to be able to dismiss the clutter, but we can at least get into the conversation. Since people are talking about Christmas, this is a time for you to access some resources that you will definitely find tremendously helpful to people when you have the opportunity to talk about Christmas.

And so I just want to mention three of them today. First is the little book, a beautiful gift book, 120 pages, beautifully designed, titled God's Gift of Christmas. It deals with why Christ was born. It's a gospel book.

It's an evangelistic tool. It also could be a devotional book that you and your family can read leading up to Christmas, as well as an evangelistic tool. And then I also want to mention the MacArthur Study Bible. Obviously, this is our flagship resource with about 25,000 footnotes that explain the meaning of every passage in the Bible.

It comes in many different English translations and even foreign language translations. It is the gift of gifts, as far as we're concerned, to give someone at Christmas. You can order some of the MacArthur Study Bibles in all kinds of forms, from a hardback to a premium leather and several different English translations.

So that is another very, very good gift. It's essentially giving someone a biblical library they'll use the rest of their life. And then the MacArthur Daily Bible, we always talk about that at the end of the year because it's a daily devotional. It divides the Bible into daily readings and takes you from the first day of the year to the last day of the year through the Old and New Testaments. Great resource to put in the hands of everybody in your family, your friends, and especially a new believer.

So a lot to keep in mind. Virtually all our books and Bibles and devotionals and commentaries are available at 25% off our regular price. That's for a limited time. And also with this slower than usual mail delivery we've all seemed to face in recent months, good idea to place your Christmas order as early as possible this year. Take advantage again of the reduced prices, and you can order those things today.

And do order them today. These resources can have an impact, even change a life, long past Christmas Day. To get the MacArthur Study Bible, the Daily Bible, or God's Gift of Christmas, contact us today. Call our customer service staff between 730 and 4 o'clock Pacific time, the toll-free number 800-55-GRACE, or shop online at our website GTY.org.

Again, during the sale you can get nearly all of our resources for 25% off the regular price, and shipping is still free. To order the Study Bible, the Daily Bible, God's Gift of Christmas, or any of our books, Bibles, and commentaries, call 800-55-GRACE or visit GTY.org. And when you're at our website GTY.org, you'll find thousands of free tools that will help you focus on and understand God's Word, including episodes of Grace To You television, helpful articles from John and the staff on our blog, and 3500 of John's sermons, including the messages from John's current series, The Best of Christmas. Again, to enjoy these free resources, or to order a Christmas gift for a loved one on sale for 25% off the regular price, visit GTY.org. Now for John and the entire Grace To You staff, this is Phil Johnson. Thanks for tuning in today, and be back tomorrow as John looks at the true Christmas spirit. Don't miss the next 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth, one verse at a time, on Grace To You.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-30 02:07:39 / 2024-01-30 02:17:22 / 10

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