The Child of Promise

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The Child of Promise

Riverside Indonesian Fellowship
Published by Stanley Pouw in 2022 · 25 December 2022
Luke 2:33 says, “And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.” What was so amazing to start with was that so much was being said about Him before He was even born. Mary, a teenager and Joseph, also a young teenager were not extraordinary. We know names because their genealogies are given, and they had to come from the line of David.

Joseph’s genealogy’s is in Matthew and Mary’s is in Luke. But it doesn’t tell us anything about their education. They were too young to have achieved anything significant, as teenagers. And out of heaven come angelic visitors, and God speaks for the first time in four centuries. And it’s to a young boy and a young girl in an obscure place; but heavenly angels show up.

And the message is thorough and so complete that they are all shocked because it’s clear there has never been a child like this. They aren’t yet married; they’re only betrothed. They haven’t come together; this is a virgin girl and her husband-to-be, a pure young man. They’re going to have a child whose entire life course and destiny is given to them before the child arrives.

Six months before, an angel told Zacharias and Elizabeth, who were past childbearing age, that they would conceive a child who would be the forerunner of the Messiah, John the Baptist. And that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb, and that he also would have a great ministry and he would proclaim righteousness, and announce the coming of the Messiah.

It wasn’t like the miracle that happened in the womb of Mary, without a human father. The Son that was coming. What a child’s life, what child’s destiny, what a child’s impact, what a child’s influence, and all the details of his life and character and accomplishments and effect, are ever laid out from before His birth. Mary doesn’t ask questions because so much revelation is given.

The question Mary asked is, “How can this happen?” Luke 1 says that Gabriel shows up in Nazareth to a virgin who is betrothed to a man called Joseph, of the descendants of David. Mary needed to come from the line of David because the child would bear the royal blood. But it was through the father’s line that the right to rule came, and so He had to be a descendant of Joseph in some sense.

“The virgin’s name was Mary.” No last names, no history. The angel comes to her, in verse 28, and says, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Verse 29 says, “She was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.” Verse 30 indicates that she was afraid: “Stop being afraid.” It would be sensible to assume that she was terrified.

An angelic visitor had showed up and given her an incredible message: that she would conceive in her womb and bear a son, and that son would be the Son of the Most High and, down in verse 35, “The Son of God.” The most astonishing, astounding words ever said about any child were said about the Lord Jesus Christ to His startled and shocked young parents.

Summing it up, the angel says in verse 32, “He will be great.” And that seems like an understatement, right? It became apparent that He was great. As you follow the story of Jesus through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, it is obvious that He had powers that no other person had ever displayed on earth. And repeatedly it says people were amazed at His teaching, His words and His wisdom.

They were amazed at His miracles. They were amazed at His healing. They were amazed at His control over the forces of hell, the demons. They were amazed at His control over the wind and the water and control over nature. It turned out that He was an amazing man. But at the beginning, all that Mary could say was, “How can this be?” and be amazed at the things that were being said about Him.

Even after He was born, there were amazing things being said about Him at the Temple when He was taken there for dedication and circumcision: amazing things by Simeon, an old saint waiting for the redemption of Israel; amazing things by Anna, another old saint waiting for the Messiah’s arrival; all these amazing things being said about this child. He’s the greatest child ever born.

There is no person close to receiving all the tributes that Christ has received. You can take all the human beings who have ever lived and been noted as significant people, put them all together with all that has ever been said about all of them combined, and it doesn’t even approach close to what has been said about this child. When you think of it from Joseph and Mary, it’s breathtaking.

What do we learn about this child? What was told to them? First of all, this child is God. Look at Luke 1:32, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Most High is a title for God. That is El Elyon in Hebrew. The Old Testament refers to God as the Most High 28 times, 19 of them in the book of Psalms. This title first occurs in Genesis 14:18.

He is in control of all of mankind. In Daniel 5:18, “O king, the Most High God granted sovereignty, grandeur, glory and majesty to Nebuchadnezzar your father.” Verse 21, “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and . . . He sets over it whomever He wishes.” He has no equal. He is the Most High God. That title then, clearly refers to the One who rules over nations.

This title, the Most High, is one of majestic sovereignty. No title more exalts God’s nature than that title. There is no equal, there is none higher. And this little baby, according to the Scripture, “will be called the Son of the Most High.” Down in verse 35, the “Child will be called the Son of God.” It is saying that He possesses the same nature as God. Though a child of Mary, He was God’s Son.

He is the eternal Son, planted in Mary’s womb by the Holy Spirit without a human father. You might say that Mary was, in a sense, a surrogate mother. He was God’s own life, God’s essence. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And to prove that, “Nothing was made that wasn’t made by Him.” He’s the Creator God, the sovereign God.

No writer in the New Testament more clearly shows the meaning of being a Son than John does. Go to John 5, one of the definitive places where our Lord declares His nature as God. As usual, the Jews were persecuting Jesus because He was healing people on the Sabbath day, in verse 17, “But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.’”

This is a stunning statement. What He is saying is God continues to work on the Sabbath, even after creating for six days. And we read, “God rested”; He didn’t rest from being God. He didn’t rest from holding the universe together. He doesn’t sleep, He doesn’t slumber, He doesn’t grow weary, He doesn’t faint. He simply rested from creation, but He did not go to sleep or disconnect.

He sustains the entire universe by His presence and power. So Jesus says, “The Sabbath doesn’t apply to God, and it doesn’t apply to Me either.” Mark 2:27 says, “The Sabbath was made for man.” Jesus is making an astonishing claim: “There are at least two for whom the Sabbath has no significance: God and Me. He works, and I work.” They knew exactly what He was saying.

Look at John 5:18, “For this reason therefore the Jews were seeking all the more to kill Him, because He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.” That’s exactly what He was doing. He’s saying to them, “The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth faints not, neither is weary.”

And they saw He was claiming equality with God. Look at John 5:19, “Therefore Jesus answered to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son of Man can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. 20 For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing.”

Jesus said, “I am equal to God in works. Whatever God does, I do,” which is to say, Whatever God is capable of doing, I’m capable of doing. To accuse Christ is to accuse God. And you haven’t seen anything to what’s going to come in the resurrection and even in His glorious return, the greater works, and even in final judgment, the millennial kingdom, and the new heaven and the new earth.

In verse 21 Jesus goes even further. Not only equal in works, but equal in power, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life.” “Nothing was made without Him.” He is equal in power. He has physical and spiritual power to raise the dead and give life. And then He says in the same verse, “To whom He wishes.” So He is equal in authority to God.

Verse 22, He’s equal in judgment: “Not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” “I have the right to judge, the authority to judge, the will to judge, the knowledge to judge, and I judge exactly as God judges.” Consequently, verse 23, equal in honor, “So that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father. He who doesn’t honor the Son doesn’t honor the Father.”

This is an indictment of the religion of Judaism. What do we have, then, in this child? Luke 1, “The Son of the Most High,” the one who’s equal to God in works, power, and authority. He has everything that God has because He is God. That’s why Matthew 1 says He is “Immanuel, God with us.” In Him the fullness of God dwells bodily. Hebrews 1, He’s “the exact representation” of God.

Secondly, He was also a man. Look at Luke 1:31, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son.” In other words, this will be a human being. Physical conception without a man? “How can this be,” verse 34, “since I’m a virgin?” Answer from the angel, verse 37, “Nothing will be impossible with God.” Verse 35, “The Holy Spirit is going to plant the Son of God in human form in your womb.”

The birth indicate this is a real child. Mary was pregnant. Mary actually gave birth. The child was laid in a manger. The shepherds came and saw Him. Later, the wise men came and saw Him. He was taken to be circumcised at the Temple in the appropriate time. This is God in human flesh. The time was right, in “the fullness of time.” Hebrews 2 says, “He had to be made like His brethren in all things.”

Why? So that He could be a merciful and faithful high priest,” so that He could comfort us in our trials. He had to be a man to substitute for man and die in our place. He had to be a man to sympathize with men, having been “tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin.” He became our merciful and faithful High Priest. He was hungry. He slept. He learned. He grew. He loved.

He felt everything that we feel and more, because He never succumbed to temptation so that it became sin. Thirdly, He is sinless. He is identified as “the holy Child.” Never has a mother held a holy child in her arms. Think about it by contrast with the ones you got. Never a wrong attitude. Never an unkind thought. Never an inappropriate word. Never a disobedient act. Never selfish.

No child was ever born without the need for discipline. No child was ever born without the need for correction, forgiveness and salvation, except this child. That’s why He’s called the one who knew no sin. In the matter of holiness, in the matter of Jesus, you have just one person. He was in the fullness of holiness from His conception on. There’d never been a holy child who was fully man and fully God.

And He is the king, Luke 1:32, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” In verse 33 it says, “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Christ means “the Anointed One,” which speaks of His royalty. He has the right to rule from Joseph; He has the royal blood from Mary.

And finally, He is the Savior, verse 31, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” Matthew 1:21, “You shall name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.” The word Jesus means “Jehovah saves.” He comes to save His people. Luke 2:11 says, “Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord in the city of David.”

This is all so astonishing, amazing to Joseph and Mary, but not to us. The church of Jesus Christ has been singing these truths ever since. So what should be our response? Our response should be to worship Jesus, our Lord right? The most astonishing child ever, still amazes us. And He still talks to us through the Bible. And He still does miracles through providence. Let us pray.


© 2017 Ferdy Gunawan

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