The Importance of Lineage
What is in a name? Have you ever thought about how much or how little attention is paid to names today? In former times names told of a person's profession, or perhaps the town from where he came. Some of the last names that we have in our culture today reflect this. Last names like Smith, Baker, and Cobler, to name a few. These names are used to give information about the person. These days we use last names to show where we come from. They remind us who our parents are, even if we do not think much about it. When I joined the Navy and was issued a uniform, the drill instructor made a point to have each person look down at his or her chest. There were two names on everyone's chest. One was the U.S. Navy, the other is your family name. The point was to remember that we were always representing these two families. In a similar way, Jesus represents two families. He is Jesus the son of Joseph, the son of David, but he is much more than that he is the Son of God, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.
The Son of God
When we think about the gospel and its portrayal in the Apostle's Creed, we come to some important points that are often overlooked in the world today. They read, "who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary." Why is it important that we say that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit? It is important because Jesus is more than just a man. He is fully man. We see this throughout the gospel accounts. There are examples of Jesus eating food (Mark 2:15, Luke 7:33-34, etc). There are examples of Jesus being tired (John 4:1-6). There are examples of Jesus facing temptation and even weeping over the death of a friend (Matthew 4:1-11, John 11:35). All of these show in vivid detail the humanity of Christ, and this is important because as Hebrews says,
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:15-16
So it is essential that we recognize the humanity of Christ, but equally important is the recognition that Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is co-equal with the Father, which means that everything that can rightly be said of the Father can be rightly said of his Son Jesus. Jesus is fully God, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary that we might be fully man and fully God. What we are not saying is that Jesus started to be the Son of God when he was conceived in the womb of Mary, he has always been the Son of God. John starts off his gospel account with the emphatic statement that Jesus is fully God and the creator of all things who was there in the beginning.
But the Virgin Birth?
So it is pretty easy to see part of why the conception of the Holy Spirit is important, but what about the virgin birth? It is the other side of the coin, the conception by the Holy Spirit points to his divine nature and his birth to Mary points to his human nature. It is an essential witness to the grace of God that he takes the initiative in our salvation. Mary was not looking to become pregnant, and Joseph had no part in it, it was God's plan, God's work, in God's time. We also see in the virgin birth the sinlessness of Christ. If Jesus had been born like anyone else, like you or me, he also would have had the same original sin that we have. That is he would have the sinful nature that we are born with. But he does not have a sinful nature. Hebrews 7:26 tells us explicitly tells us this. This miracle of the virgin birth also reminds us that God is not absent from his creation. He did not create the world and then leave it to run on its own. He interacts with his world constantly. Without his constant holding up of all things, everything would cease to exist.
As you go throughout your week this week remember the virgin birth. Remember that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary. Remember the miracle that is every birth, but especially this one. Jesus is fully God and fully man, there is no mixture of the natures, but there is also no separation of the natures. Jesus is fully man that he might take our place, that he might carry our burdens and pay our debt. He is fully God so he is able to pay the infinite price that our sin requires. Remember that your sin is so terrible and so costly that humanity could never pay it. Even the littlest sin incurs an infinite debt. But Jesus, because he is fully man and fully God, is able to pay that infinite debt for his bride. He pays the debt for his Church, his bride, that we might be known by him. Remember the grace that you have been shown in Christ. Give him all glory and praise.
Soli Deo Gloria