The Person of Christ - 12 - Incarnation OT & Gospels

 

Chapter 12 - The Incarnation of Christ

The Old Testament and Synoptic Gospels

Phillip Harding

 

When we speak of the Incarnation of Christ, we are referring to the fact that He became Man: not the creation of a new Person, but a Divine Person, already existing, becoming what He never was before, without ceasing to be what He is eternally. His incarnation unites Godhead and Manhood in one Person, His human nature being as perfect as His Divine nature.

Wonder and amazement fill the breast, as well as deep gratitude, as we ponder the subject before us. We can never fathom the mystery of incarnation. We shall consider this heart-thrilling subject under four headings.

 

1.         THE PROMISE OF HIS INCARNATION - ?And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel? (Gen. 3:15).

 

On the very page of Divine revelation where the Fall of man is recorded, there is the promise of the Saviour Who would ?crush? the serpent?s head. This refers to His incarnation and His work at Calvary. The coming Saviour is ?the Seed of the woman? this indicates the manner of His coming into the world.

 

Persons have been brought into the world by

a)            Creation - Adam was brought in without the use of a man or a woman.

b)            Formation - Eve was brought in with the use of a man only.

c)            Generation - all others, except Christ, were brought in with the use of a man and a woman.  For the commencement of the human race, God used the first two methods only once. In all three methods stated above, the persons brought into the world had no prior existence. Before the third method was used, sin entered by Adam (Rom. 5:12). Since then, all those brought in are sinners by birth.

 

d) Incarnation - with the use of a woman only. God reserved the fourth method for the bringing of His Son into the world. Incarnation indicates prior existence - the Eternal One steps into time, becomes truly man without a trace of sin to procure salvation for men.

 

2.         THE PROPHECIES OF HIS INCARNATION

 

From Genesis to Malachi we have one harmonious testimony to the coming Messiah. His first advent, from His birth to His death and resurrection, is clearly foretold. Prophecy tells us:

 

a) What would be His lineage. He would come from the line of Abraham (Gen. 22:18), Isaac (Gen. 26:4) and Jacob (Gen. 28:14); from the royal tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10); and be of the House of David (Psa. 89, 132:11). Prophecy narrows down the limits of His lineage, showing Him to be ?the Son of David, the Son of Abraham? (Matt. 1:1).

 

b) When He would come - ?Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people.... Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks.., after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself.

(Dan.9:24, 25 and 26).

 

Without going into details, we see the commencement of that cycle, during which the Messiah would come, and that after 69 weeks (weeks of years or 483 years) He would be ?cut off." The Nation should have been expecting Him when He came, but in general they were not (John. 1:10-Il). Brethren, do our lives show that we are looking with expectancy for His second coming, or are we apathetic?

 

c)         Where He would be born - ?But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah... out of thee shall He come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting? (Micah. 5:2).

 

The leaders of Israel were fully aware of this prophecy and acknowledged it predicted the place of Messiah?s birth (Matt. 2:4-6). Although they were intelligent as to the Scriptures, they had no real heart for the things of God. It is one thing to know the Scriptures, but another to have a heart for what they teach and obey them out of love to Christ.

 

d) How He would come ?the Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin (Heb. ?almah?) shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel? (Isa. 7:14). W.E. Vine states, ?the choice of ?almah? is significant as denoting one who was mature and ready for marriage in contrast to ?bethulah? which includes a maiden whose marriage is not impending.? Many seek to rob this verse of its messianic character, saying that it was a sign to King Ahaz. However, a careful consideration of the passage will show that ?the House of David? is addressed. Ahaz feared that the House of David would be exterminated and Jerusalem destroyed. The Lord dispelled such fear with this remarkable sign. ?Sooner should a pure virgin bring forth a child than the House of David perish. The promise thus yields a double comfort: namely, of Christ hereafter to be born of a virgin; and of their security from the imminent danger to the House of David? (Lightfoot). The only possible fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14 is the birth of Christ. Other passages such as Psa. 22:9- 10 and Isa.- 49:1-5 clearly indicate that Christ would be born of a woman.

 

e) Who He was - ?Immanuel? (Isa. 7:14).

 

What wondrous truth - God condescending to become Man. In Isaiah 9:6, we read that the Child born is the Son given. ?A Child born,? because He was never a child before:

?A Son given,? because He is the eternal Son. Thus His Eternity and Deity are emphasized.

 

3.         THE PARTICULARS OF HIS INCARNATION

 

The Incarnation of Christ refers to the FACT that He became Man, whereas His virgin birth is the MEANS by which this took place. ?The Lord came forth from God in a SENSE in which no one else did; it follows therefore that He came forth in a WAY in which no one else did? (James Denney). God was at work and the only human agency was the virgin Mary who submitted herself to the will and purpose of God (Luke 1:38). What actually took place at conception is hidden from men, but we know that Divine power ensured that He Who was born of the virgin was absolutely holy in humanity. Concerning this operation of the Spirit in her conception, Mary declared, ?He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His Name? (Luke 1:49). Mary was with child of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18) and she remained a virgin until the Lord was born (Matt. 1:25). We cannot deal with other particulars given in Matt. 2 and Luke 2, save to point out that God moved an Emperor at Rome to make a decree to fulfil Micah 5:2.

 

4.         THE PURPOSE OF HIS INCARNATION.

 

There are many reasons for the incarnation of Christ, e.g., He became incarnate to fulfil prophecy and to manifest God. We shall look briefly at only two reasons for His incarnation.

a)         To be the King - ?And thou Bethlehem. . . out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel? (Matt. 2:6). Others may have been born princes, but He alone was born King. As the Son of David He shall reign in righteousness (Isa. 9:6, 32:1). Was He entitled to the throne? Matthew chapter one shows that since Joseph took Mary to be his legal wife before the Lord was born, He was the legal Son of Joseph. and had the legal right to the Throne; but since He was not the actual Son of Joseph, He did not come under the prophetic ban imposed on the seed of Jeconiah (Coniah, Jer. 22:28-30). He not only had the legal right to reign but also the prophetic right, since all the circumstances surrounding His birth were the fulfillment of prophetic scriptures. His supreme authority as King will be fully manifested when He comes as King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). Believer, we ought to bow to His authority now, owning Him as Lord of our lives, not by mere words but by our obedience to the Word of God.

 

b)         To be the Saviour - ?And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins? (Matt. 1:21).

Sin had invaded God?s fair creation, man was absolutely ruined by the Fall and deserving of God?s righteous judgment; but the Saviour came to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). The Saviour became a man in order to die, so that sinners might be saved (Matt. 20:28).

 

?Down from the glory the Saviour came,

Down to the cross and the death of shame,

 Gazing in wonder I there exclaim,

Jesus died for me.?