How the Story of the Messiah's Birth Reveals His Deity
|By:||Wayne Hilsden||Category:||Not Categorized|
|Date:||Monday, December 25th, 2006||Topics:||Yeshua, Savior, Salvation, Messiah, Hanukkah, God, Forgiveness, Creator, Christmas|
The astronaut James Erwin, who traveled to the moon, accomplished an amazing feat. But later, he said these words, “There’s something more important than man walking on the moon, and that is God walking on the earth.”
“God walking on the earth.” The Lord of the universe coming down from the highest heavens to our tiny little planet, a minuscule speck among the multiple galaxies of God’s creation. Amazing. And it’s amazing grace. We don’t deserve to be even a blip on His radar screen; but the Creator of the entire universe cared enough to come down to save this planet.
Not only did He lower Himself in altitude, but there was also a lowliness in His attitude. In Philippians 2:6-8 we read of Yeshua:
“6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
Aren’t you glad that He who was
“equal with God” condescended to our planet – so that He could take our place and pay our price?
Now I really enjoy the holiday of Hanukkah. We remember how a cruse of oil enough for only one day kept the temple lamps burning for eight days. Though this miracle is not mentioned in the Bible, we celebrate the holiday along with the rest of Israel. Now if we celebrate that miracle for eight days every year – even though the Scriptures do not command us to do so – then I think it’s OK to take one day a year to remember perhaps the most amazing miracle in human history, the day God entered our world as
“the light of life” (John 1:4).
And let me make this one side comment. Even if “Christmas” has become an offense to many Christians, if you’ve lived in Israel very long at all, you know that Christmas is one of the most compelling holidays to Jewish people. So to ignore Christmas may mean missing a golden opportunity to bring the gospel. The story of Yeshua’s birth is at the heart of the gospel. As recorded in Luke 2:10-11, here are the words the angel spoke to those Jewish shepherds just a few miles from my home here in Jerusalem:
“10...‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Lord.’”
I want you to know that those fearful Jewish shepherds, once they got a glimpse of that Child, ended up being bold evangelists themselves, telling the good news of Yeshua’s birth everywhere they went. It says in verses 16 and 17:
“16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.”
When they had seen Him – I want us to see Him who lies in that humble manger, so that we too might be like those shepherds and tell this story far and wide.
Now as we look at this Child, we could say a lot about what we see. More than 70 verses in the gospels alone describe the story of His birth. But we will not have time to look at every facet of this Child’s features. So we will narrow our scope and concentrate on just one facet: His deity.
Yeshua was fathered not by man, but by the Holy Spirit.
The first detail in Yeshua’s birth story reveals His deity: He was not fathered by a man, but by the Holy Spirit.
There are a number of verses that show us this amazing fact. Let’s begin by looking at Matthew 1:18-20:
“18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.’ “
A few verses later, in verse 23, we read,
“ ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son….’ “ And then in verse 25, it says that Joseph
“...did not know till she had brought forth her firstborn Son….”
If the account of Matthew is not enough, let’s turn to Luke 1:34-35:
“34 Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ 35 And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’ “
It’s particularly interesting to hear the account from a physician such as Dr. Luke, who understood something about human anatomy and the normal process of conception – you know, there is the male sperm and the female egg, and the sperm needs to impregnate the egg in order for there to be the creation of a new life. Yet Luke believed what the angel of the Lord had revealed to Mary – that despite the fact that she had never had sexual intercourse with a man (“I do not know a man”), the Holy Spirit would “come upon” her and the Holy One would be born to her.
Talk-show host Larry King was once asked the question, “If you could select any one person across all of history to interview, who would it be?” He answered that he would like to sit down and talk with Jesus Christ: “I would like to ask Him if He was indeed virgin-born. The answer to that question would define history for me.” Maybe we need to tell King that Luke was a doctor. But then he might say, “Ah, but Luke was not a Jewish doctor. We could tell King that Matthew was a Jewish tax collector, but he might not be impressed with that fact either.
The virgin birth goes a long way in revealing that Yeshua is deity. As we read in Luke 1:35:
“...‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’ “
The one conceived in the womb takes on the nature of the impregnator. In Yeshua’s case, He was not fathered by Joseph, but by the Holy Spirit. And so the angel indicates that Yeshua takes on the nature of the Holy Spirit. He speaks to Mary about “that Holy One who is to be born” to her – or “the Holy One,” as we read elsewhere.
Actually, the word “one” is not in the Greek; however, it is noteworthy that the article “that,” or “the,” is used. “The” is used as a definitive in order to limit signification to a specific thing. So this baby born to a virgin is not just “a holy” but “the holy” (”hagion“). Time and time again, God is called the “Holy One of Israel.”
So while we can’t base Yeshua’s deity solely on the fact that He was fathered not by man but by the Holy Spirit, it is a powerful argument against the idea that Yeshua was just a mere man.
Now let me show you another aspect of this amazing Child born in Bethlehem. This, too, reveals that Yeshua is not just a man, but also deity. It’s the fact that the story of His birth shows that He is eternal.
Yeshua is revealed at His birth as eternal.
Now you and I who have put our lives into Yeshua’s hands will live eternally. But that doesn’t make us eternal. To be eternal is not just to have no end – but also to have no beginning. Apart from God Himself, there is nothing in the universe that has neither beginning nor end.. Everything apart from God is a created thing – at some specific point, God created you and me and every other thing. We all had a beginning. But this is not so with the Creator-God. He always was and always will be.
So if Yeshua is God, then we would expect the Bible to say that Yeshua was also without a beginning. At first glance, when you see this baby lying in a manger in swaddling clothes, you imagine that this little person’s life has just begun. But this is not so with little Yeshua. He’s eternal.
The Old Testament verse that actually predicts exactly where the Messiah will be born is also the verse that reveals that this Messiah is eternal. We read in Micah 5:2,
“ ‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.’ “
Now some translate the Hebrew phrase “mimeh olam“ not as “everlasting,” but rather as “from old” or “from ancient times.” But even if that’s the proper translation, Yeshua’s existence didn’t begin at birth. This would be the first baby ever born who had a preexistence. And then we have to ask ourselves, “If His beginning was before His birth, then when was that beginning? I don’t think you’ll find anyone who can answer that question – at least from the Scriptures.
When we look at many Scriptures together, we soon discover that not only did Yeshua exist before He was born, but He, like God Himself, is without beginning or end. Yeshua Himself says in John 8:58,
“...‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ “ And by using the phrase “I AM,” Yeshua identifies Himself as God. No wonder then that the religious leaders, upon hearing His claim to be preexistent and God Himself,
“took up stones to throw at Him” (John 8:59).
According to John 1:1-2, Yeshua always existed:
“1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.” In Revelation 1:8, Yeshua boldly declares that He is the
“Alpha and Omega,” or in other words, the “A through the Z,” the beginning and the end. Yeshua is God’s alphabet that spells out deity.
Now there’s a verse in Isaiah that points to the birth of someone who appears to be more than a mere man. We read in Isaiah 9:6,
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given;and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
He is called “Everlasting Father” (in Hebrew, “Avi Ad“). This mighty King whom Isaiah says will be born is “everlasting.” He is eternal. But how is Yeshua also an eternal “Father”? This can only be explained by the fact that He and His Father are one and the same. And so Yeshua Himself declares in John 10:30,
“ ‘I and My Father are one!’ “
If you think that’s a pretty strong statement – verging on blasphemy, if it’s not true – well, you’re in good company. The next verse says that His hearers
“took up stones again to stone Him.”
But Yeshua understood that He was no mere man, but indeed had the same eternal nature as the everlasting Father. Yeshua prayed in John 17:21,
“ ‘that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You….’ “
So we have seen thus far how at least two details in the story of Yeshua’s birth reveal His deity: Yeshua was fathered not by a man, but by the Holy Spirit; and Yeshua existed before His birth – in fact, He is eternal, without beginning or ending. And now we come to another detail related to Yeshua’s birth that reveals His deity.
The name “Yeshua” given to the Child reveals His deity.
Yeshua’s deity is revealed in the name He is given prior to His birth. Let’s turn to Matthew 1:21,
“ ‘And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’ “
Now if we want to use His Biblical name, we should call Him I?sous (ee-ay-sooce), which is His Greek name. But of course, this is a Greek translation of the Hebrew, Yehoshua or Yeshua, both of which mean the same thing, “Jehovah is salvation.” Now the naming of this Child “Yehoshua” or “Yeshua” is not that significant in itself. There were other Jews given those names in His day and in earlier times. And it was not unusual to have the name of God incorporated into a person’s name. This was the case, for example, for the prophets Isaiah (Yeshayahu) and Hosea (Hosheyah).
But in Matthew 1:21, we see that this Child is not just given a name – along with his name, He is given a description of His calling and His purpose for coming into the world, which is the fulfillment of His name. Let’s read both Matthew 1:20 and 21:
“20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.’ “
I want you to note that it wasn’t just some proud father’s exaggerated imagination of grandeur for His firstborn son that caused Joseph to name the boy, “Yeshua.” Rather, we see that it was the very angel of the Lord Himself who appeared to Joseph and commanded him to give the child this name.
This detail about the reason for naming the child “Yeshua” is possibly the most powerful revelation that Yeshua was no mere man, but God Himself in the flesh. He was given this name because He would accomplish in His life and death and resurrection something that only God alone has the power and authority to do: “He will save His people from their sins.”
To God, Israel is uniquely “His people.” And Israel has only One in whom they can put their hope for salvation and for the forgiveness of sins. Only “Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh” (Jehovah) and Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh alone can save His people from their sins. Psalm 130:7-8 declares:
“7 O Israel, hope in [Jehovah]; for with [Jehovah] there is mercy, and with Him is abundant redemption. 8 And He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” In Isaiah 43:11, the God of Israel declares,
“ ‘I, even I, am [Jehovah], and and besides Me there is no savior.’ “
And not only is Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh the only hope of salvation and the forgiveness of sins for Israel, but for the whole world. We read in Isaiah 45:21-22: “21 ‘...Have not I, [Jehovah]? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me. 22 Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.’ “
So if we use logic, we have to come to the following conclusion. If Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh is the only One who has the power and the authority to save people from their sins, then when the angel of the Lord says to Joseph, “You shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins,” then Jesus must be Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh. Yeshua must be God.
Let’s read the following story in Matthew 9:3-6:
“3 And at once some of the scribes said within themselves, ‘This Man blasphemes!’ 4 But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, “Your sins are forgiven you,” or to say, “Arise and walk”? 6 But that you may know that the Son of Man has power on earth to forgive sins’ – then He said to the paralytic, ‘Arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.’ “
Now it’s one thing to have great expectations for your child – that he will be the Wonder Boy and God’s gift to Mankind. But it’s another thing to see those expectations realized. The proof is in the pudding. Yeshua lives up to His name: He saves His people from their sins. Let’s turn to Acts 4:8-12:
“8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the “stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.” 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’ “
Indeed, Yeshua lives up to His name. He does what only God Himself has the power and the authority to do – He saves His people from their sins. If any man claims that He can save people from their sins, He is either a blasphemer or He is God. There is nothing in between.
Whom do you say that He is? Is He a blasphemer? Or is He God?
Isaiah prophesied that when Jehovah comes to save His people in the person of the Messiah, they will not recognize Him because of His appearance as a man, and a marred man at that.
We read the following in Isaiah 52:10:
“The LORD has made bare His holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” The salvation of whom? Note: The salvation of our God. Now let’s read verses 14 and 15:
“14 Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men; 15 so shall He sprinkle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him; for what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard they shall consider.”
Let’s continue with Isaiah 53:
“1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. 3 He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
“4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
“7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgressions of My people He was stricken. 9 And they made His grave with the wicked – but with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth.
“10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand. 11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”Isaiah 53
God Himself is the only one who has the power and the authority to save His people from their sins; and we just read in Isaiah 52:10 that
“all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” But what kind of God of salvation will be seen on the day of salvation? Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh will be virtually unrecognizable to those He comes to save – except to those to whom He is revealed. He will be unrecognizable not only because the God of salvation will come in the
“the sons of men,” according to Isaiah 52:14. But what will make Him even more unrecognizable to His people will be the kind of appearance He will have after He has been beaten by those do not believe His report and have rejected Him. In Isaiah 52:14 we read that
“His visage” is
“marred more than any man.” In Isaiah 53:2 it says,
“...He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.”
If it’s hard for you to believe that God would choose to come as a baby and take on human flesh, it’s probably even harder for you to believe that this same God of salvation could have allowed His face to be marred beyond recognition, because it was His will to be
“wounded for our transgressions.” It’s hard to imagine that the God of salvation would choose to be chastised for our peace. It’s hard to believe that
“laid on Him“ was
“the iniquity of us all.” It’s hard to imagine that the Lion of Judah would not open His mouth, but laid down his life as a lamb for the slaughter. And it’s hard to believe that the God of salvation would end up being
“numbered with the transgressors” that He might bear
“the sin of many.”
I know it’s hard to believe. And Isaiah predicted that it would be hard for most to believe such a thing. In the words of Isaiah 53:1,
“Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” The fact that God chose to reveal Himself in human flesh that He might save our flesh is such a huge stumbling block to the human mind – so much so, that most people do not believe the report. But the problem is: The only way to be saved is to believe the report.
This is what we read in John 1:9-12:
“9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
Do you believe in His name? Do you believe in what His name stands for? That the Messiah is not just a good teacher, not just a prophet, not even just the Messiah – but the Name by which a man must be saved (Acts 4). Do you believe that Yeshua is Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh, the only God and Savior of His people Israel and the only Savior of the world? Don’t be like those who have not believed the report. Believe in Him, believe in His name, and you will be saved. Believe in Yeshua, for “He will save His people from their sins.”
In conclusion, let’s look at John 1:14:
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Instead of hiding your eyes from this baby in Bethlehem, behold His glory. Instead of hiding your eyes from His countenance, open your eyes and be saved.