Summary: Introductory sermon in a series of four on Isaiah 9:6-7. Emphasizes the crucial truths of Christ’s humanity and his deity.
A CHILD IS BORN——A SON IS GIVEN
(Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV)
This graffiti dialog was found on a university wall: “And Jesus said unto them: ‘Who do you say I am?’ And they replied, ‘You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships.’ And Jesus said, ‘What?’”
Profound doctrine surrounds the Advent of Christ. I don’t want to complicate it so that even Jesus would say, “Huh!” My goal is for you to understand with me, the beauty of His Incarnation.
Isaiah deliberately uses two important verbs to describe Christ’s advent 700 years before the manger. As a child, He is born, but as a Son He is given. Paul also observes, “concerning his Son, f who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and h was declared to be the Son of God i in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:3-4). (The eternal Son of God assumed humanity to become the messianic King – ESV note). Humanly Jesus descended from David, but from eternity He was designated God’s Son. Paul said, “…when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). As a Son Christ was sent, God’s Son from eternity past. When Augustus was Caesar, Jesus was born of Mary. He became a man at that point in time. The Bible never hesitates to put the twin truths of the full deity and true humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ together.
These crucial truths have been attacked by heretics throughout the history of the church. Early in church history Christ’s deity was denied. Arianism taught that the Son of God and the Holy Spirit were beings willed into existence by God, and that they were not eternal, as God is. Arius claimed that there was a time “before which they were not.” This heresy is still expressed in false doctrines like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Unitarians.
Docetism, on the other hand, denied Christ’s true humanity. This heresy held that salvation was primarily an intellectual pursuit, so a literal Incarnation of the Son of God was meaningless. A radical and unbridgeable gulf was said to exist between spirit and matter, Matter was thought evil and spirit good. Docetism comes from the Greek verb dokeo which means “to appear.” It taught that Jesus only appeared to be a man, but was actually a phantom, without a real material body. By this teaching then, He did not really die. There are elements of this heresy in Islam and Mormonism.
The church rejected these errors and the early creeds stated the truth. The Athanasian Creed says, “Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and man … perfect God, and perfect man … who although he be [is] God and man; yet he is not two, but one Christ; one, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh: but by taking [assumption] of the manhood into God.”
I. A CHILD IS BORN — THE HUMANITY OF CHRIST
The Bible teaches that Jesus, the Son of God, became like us in every respect (except for sin) so that we might become like Him. His humanity is expressed, for example, in His emotional life. Some try to separate Christ from emotions, as if they were not appropriate to Him. Others exaggerate his emotions almost to the point of irreverence. The New Testament is very balanced.
Jesus was often stirred with compassion or pity. With a hungry crowd, a leper, and a blind person, He was moved with compassion. His heart went out to the bereaved widow of Nain at the loss of her only son, and He wept over the stubborn unbelief of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and again at the tomb of Lazarus. G. Campbell Morgan comments on His shared grief with Mary and Martha, “He … gathered up into his own personality all the misery resulting from sin, represented in a dead man and brokenhearted people around him” (G. Campbell Morgan, The Gospel According to John, (Westwood, N. J.: Fleming H. Revell, n.d.), 197).
Jesus was sometimes indignant. He sternly denounced the religious leaders of His day, calling them, “hypocrites,” “white washed tombs,” “snakes,” “blind guides,” and relating them to their “father, the devil.” James Boice writes, “It is not an impassible, insensitive, unmovable Christ that is presented to us in the New Testament. Rather it is one who has entered into our griefs and understands our sorrow, one who was on occasion moved to righteous indignation and angered by sin.” (James Montgomery Boice, God the Redeemer, [Foundations of the Christian Faith, Volume 2], (Downer’s Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1978), 144).