Summary: The incarnation is essential to our salvation.
Title: What’s So Special About Jesus?
Text: Matthew 1:18-23
Truth: The incarnation is essential to our salvation.
Aim: I want to persuade them of the truth of the incarnation and its necessity for salvation.
It must be difficult to be an atheist at Christmas. Maybe one hides behind some scientific theory, even though it falls apart under close inspection. Or it might be some philosophical proposition which honest thinking reveals to be inconsistent. But the real problem an atheist has in rejecting God is not scientific or philosophical. The greatest problem a person has in rejecting God is Jesus Christ.
The world’s population increases at more than 70,000 a day. It is estimated that the total number of people who have ever lived has been around 60 or 70 billion. Of those 70 billion who have lived and died, 99.99% are virtually unknown. In 1999 when I was in Africa, a young man was wearing a red T-shirt that had a picture of the famous basketball player Michael Jordan imprinted on it. I asked him if he knew whose image was on his shirt; he did not.
Some who have lived have influenced millions, a generation, or even an entire country. But when you take inventory of those who have left a permanent mark on this planet, you have a very small list. One person dominates them all. You could say He is one in 70 billion.
What makes that even more remarkable is the context of His life:
• We have no record of the date of His birth, yet all the world’s chronology is linked to it.
• He never wrote a book, yet more books have been written about Him than any other person in history. The output of books about Him is accelerating. The story of His life has been translated into over 2,000 languages.
• In His brief life He never ventured outside of His country, with one exception. His country was no bigger than the state of New Jersey, which is the fifth smallest state in America.
• He had no formal education, but thousands of universities, seminaries, colleges, and schools have been founded in His name.
• He never raised an army, yet millions have laid down their lives for His cause, and every year thousands more will do so.
• Even the most dyed-in-the-wool skeptics, people like TV journalist Peter Jennings, acknowledge that this man is someone special and deserves meticulous study and consideration.
Jesus Christ presents an enormous problem to the unbelieving atheist or agnostic. Some have tried to solve this problem by saying Jesus Christ never existed. I will not spend time on this argument. No credible historian supports this position. We have more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ than any other person of ancient history.
Though no truly honest person debates the existence of Jesus Christ, they do debate the unique circumstances surrounding His birth. It is called the incarnation; God became a human being. The incarnation is essential to our salvation. Let me support that with two points: The Incarnation Explained and The Incarnation Experienced.
First, The Incarnation Explained.
I. THE INCARNATION EXPLAINED
Let us talk about the opponents of the incarnation, and then we will talk about the proponents of the incarnation. I want you to see the reasonableness of our belief that God became a man in the person of Jesus Christ.
A. Opponents of the incarnation
One opponent is the Talmud. The Talmud is a book of authoritative traditions for the Jewish people. The Talmud says that Jesus is the offspring of a Roman soldier named Panthera and a woman of the gutter named Mary. Their explanation is Jesus is the consequence of fornication. That is an admission that unusual circumstances surrounded His birth.
The pseudo-scientists point to the biological world to explain the unique circumstances of Jesus’ birth. They tell us about fungi and algae that propagate by unfertilized spores and eggs. Therefore, Mary is one of those unusual aberrations of science. Jesus was conceived by self-fertilization. What they do not go on to explain is that if Jesus were the product of self-fertilization He would have been a female. You must have the contribution of a y chromosome for a child to become a male.
The pseudo-intellectuals look back into Greek and Roman classic history. They point to the mythical tale of Hercules. The god, Jove, transformed himself into the likeness of the husband of Hercules’ mother, Alcmene, and Hercules was born. Alexander the Great is also used as an example. His mother was in the temple, and a god transformed himself into a serpent, and Alexander was conceived. You might say that makes my skin crawl. Another example pseudo-intellectuals use is the tale of the conception of Augustus Caesar. His mother fell asleep in the temple of Apollo and a god ravished her. The result was August Caesar being born. These pseudo-intellectuals liken the birth of our Lord to these obvious myths.