Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: "Who is the Child of Mary?"

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 50
“Who is the Child of Mary?”
First Published: December 18, 1997

Isaiah’s words are not far from us in this season of the year: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14). We all do well to make our way to Bethlehem, and “in company with wondering shepherds and adoring Magi, let us see Him who was born King of the Jews, for we by faith can claim an interest in Him, and can sing, ‘Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.’” We ought to ponder some of the lofty truths wrapped in the nativity.

First, we remember that Jesus is God Incarnate (“Immanuel” means “God-with-us”). He is the eternal Son of the heavenly Father, in the flesh. He is the embodied Second Person of the Holy Trinity (as John 1 reminds us of this). He does not divest himself of his divinity as he comes into the world (that would be metamorphosis not incarnation!), but rather intersects space and time as true God and man, at once. He is the divine man. “Our Saviour, although truly man, was as to His human nature the Holy One of God. Let us reverently bow before the holy Child whose innocence restores to manhood its ancient glory; and let us pray that He may be formed in us, the hope of glory.”

Second, we take comfort that though he walks the earth as our Lord and our God, he is yet our brother and friend. Surely this is a mystery. The eternal Son, my brother by incarnation and by saving grace. Think of it, though “very God, begotten not created,” our Lord is really and truly and fully human (yet without sin). And further, through the uniting work of the Spirit he becomes our brother and we God’s children, by faith. If this does not lead us to adoration and admiration, nothing will.

Third, we should notice our Lord’s miraculous conception (“the virgin birth” we call it). Though skeptics mock at it, we revel in its reality and significance. Spurgeon reminds us: “It was a thing unheard of before, and unparalleled since, that a virgin should conceive and bear a Son. The first promise ran thus, ‘The seed of the woman,’ not the offspring of the man. Since venturous woman led the way in the sin which brought forth Paradise lost, she, and she alone, ushers in the Regainer of Paradise.” God’s grace is glorious, is it not?

Fourth, we should allow our hearts to break and then worship as we contemplate his humiliation. Notice his humble parentage, his humble estate, the meagerness of the provision around his nativity (“how miserable the accommodation afforded to the new-born King!”), and the humble life to which he was called. What a comfort to think of it: “Immanuel, God with us in our nature, in our sorrow, in our lifework, in our punishment, in our grave, and now with us, or rather we with Him, in resurrection, ascension, triumph, and Second Advent splendour.”

Merry Christmas to you all.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

[Quotes are from C. H. Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening]

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