Consider the Incarnation as an act of devotion. Heb 10:5 “A body hast Thou prepared.”
The Lord came from the realms of glory,
Was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born in a stable, cradled in a manger. Chapter 2:7
At the incarnation God visited our Planet in the form of a helpless Babe. Born in indescribable poverty—in a foul-smelling stable.
The Lord began His life in a manger—feeding trough. He ended His life on a Roman Cross. Between these two points He had no where to lay His head. Luke 9:58. Phil 2. Jesus was unattached to the world.
The Lord’s devotion to His Father began in eternity. Proverbs 8:30-31. “Then, I was by Him, as One brought up with Him, I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him. Rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth; and My delights were with the sons of men.”
The Master Plan of redemption was conceived before the world began. 1 Peter 1:18. “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world.”
The vehicle through which the plan would be worked out was resolved there. The method and the means were determined there.
When the question was asked, “Who will go for us?” The Lord answered, “Here am I send Me.”
At Bethlehem, The Infinite became finite.
· God became incarnate.
· Deity clothed itself in Humanity.
· For the first time God was seen in the flesh.
“Great is the mystery of godliness” etc. 1 Tim 3:16.
Challenge: “As My Father has sent Me; so send I you.”
The virgin birth of Jesus Christ is without parallel in human history. It was by the virgin birth that God became man. One perfect person, but two natures. One nature being that of Almighty God—the other being that of man—man without sin. The union of the two natures became the God-man, Christ Jesus.
“At Bethlehem, the unfathomable depths of the Divine counsels were moved. The fountains of the great deep were broken up. The healing of the nations was issuing forth. But nothing was seen on the surface of human society, but the slight rippling of the water.”
· Creation - Red Sea.
· Manna - Water.
· Jesus Birth - Ascension.
· Coming of Spirit.
The Lord’s baptism was an expression of His dedication to God’s will. It also expressed His identification and dedication to His forthcoming ministry. It also demonstrated His oneness with His own people.
He identified Himself with God and man. Believer’s baptism.
The shut door. 2 Kings 4—The cruse of oil—The raising of the Shunammite son. The anointing of the Holy Spirit.
1. The birth of Jesus Christ was the most stupendous event in all the decades, centuries, and millenniums of the history of man. Mary’s womb became the tabernacle of the Son of God.
2. Think of the pathos of the statements “She brought forth”—She wrapped Him in swaddling clothes—She laid Him in a manger. These are beautiful statements, but oh the pity of it—the tragedy of it—the loneliness of it. At a time like this a woman should be surrounded by tenderest care; but she was alone.
3. The incarnation of the Son of God, was not a diminishing of deity, but rather an acquiring of manhood. His manhood is permanent. Though now exalted He continues to be God and man in two distinct natures, and one person forever. The incarnate state was a state of dependence and obedience, sinlessness and impeccability, temptation and moral conflict. In human form He was the visible expression of the invisible God. Men who saw God in all His glory were the men God used to serve Him. The men who had a deep experience with God and because of this acknowledged His Lordship, were the men He chose to serve Him.
Exodus 3—Moses. The burning bush. Theophany.
He heard God’s voice. He sensed the holiness of His presence. Take your shoes off—the ground is holy. He was over-awed by the glory of God. He hid his face, and he was afraid to look upon God.
It was from this point that Moses was commissioned and sent forth by God to deliver Israel from Egypt. Despite his protests God used him. ‘I am not eloquent - slow of speech - slow tongue’—God said ‘I will be your mouth. I will teach you.’
Joshua 5:13-15. This is another Theophany.
Joshua realized that he was in the presence of the Lord. He was stunned by the glory of the Lord’s person.
He fell on his face and worshipped. “What saith my Lord unto His servant?” Was full of the Holy Spirit. Became God’s chosen vessel.
Elijah.—1 Kings 19:11-13.
The prophet is in a cave hiding—but God found him. He was despondent. “I only am left and they seek my life.”
At this point God revealed Himself.
First there was a strong wind which rent the mountains and rent the rocks. But God was not in the wind.
Then there was an earthquake—but God was not in the earthquake.
Then there was a fire—but God was not in the fire.
Finally, there was a still small voice = a gentle whisper. He realized that this was God speaking and wrapped his face in his coat. First, God asked him what he was doing hiding in the cave. Then He told Him to go and crown two kings and anoint Elisha to be the prophet of God to Israel.
Samuel—1 Samuel 3.
“Speak Lord for thy servant heareth.” Samuel became God’s greatest prophet to Israel.
Peter says to “Sanctify the Lord in your heart.” 1 Peter 3:15. Set apart—consecrate. This means “Sanctify in your heart Christ as Lord.”
1. Lordship involves my complete submission to His will.
2. The desire to please the Lord becomes the controlling passion of my life. Psalm 27. One thing have I desired of the Lord.
3. I say from my heart, “Lord what will you have me to do?”
4. The Lordship of Christ includes submission to His Word as the sole authority in all matters of doctrine—discipline—and practice, and a complete surrender of my body to God. Rom 6. Rom 12. He becomes our Master—Owner—and Controller.
Note how the above applied to the Lord.
1. “Lo I come to do Thy will, O God.”
2. “I do always those things which please the Father.
3. “Not My will but Thine be done.”
4. “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.”
To submit to the Lordship of Christ can be costly humanly speaking but rewarding God’s standpoint.
The first recorded words of the Lord Jesus, at the age of twelve, were “Do you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:49.
Being a Carpenter was part of the Master Plan. Col 1 - Heb 1. For eighteen years He learned and practiced His trade.
Joseph, His foster father is believed to have died during this period, for Jesus is referred to as, the Village Carpenter. Mark 6:3.
These eighteen years of silence and obscurity, teach us the importance of preparation and training. We learn the Lordship of Christ during this time. They warn us of the temptation to jump from spiritual birth into public ministry. John the Baptist - Paul. Verse 52 “Jesus kept on increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.”
As Jesus moves into His public ministry, the first recorded incident is His baptism. At this time God made known His approval of the obscure years of the Lords life. His devotion to the Father during this time was impeccable. “I always do the things that please the Father.” Consequently, God universally declared to angels—man—Demons—and the devils, “This is My beloved Son.” etc. First message from heaven in 400 years.
There are two interesting points in Luke’s account of the Lord’s baptism.
1. There is the revelation of the Triune God.
2. Luke alone records that Jesus prayed at His baptism. “When He was praying, the heavens opened and the Holy Spirit came upon Him.” Transfiguration - Moses. This is in accord with the dominant theme of the Gospel of Luke. Miracles are wrought by prayer. See Heb 12:1. Elijah.
· The Lord prayed at the outset of His public ministry. Lover. Luke 3:21.
· The Lord prayed as He approached the peak of His ministry. Prosperity. Luke 5:16.
· The Lord prayed for a whole night, before He chose His disciples. Sincerity. Luke 6:12.
· The Lord prayed prior to Peter unique confession. Identity. Luke 9:18.
· The Lord prayed on the Mount of Transfiguration. Changed. Luke 9:28.
· The Lord prayed in the presence of His disciples. Example. Luke 11:1.
· The Lord prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Strong crying and tears. Luke 22:41-44.
The foregoing is a remarkable testimony of the devotion and dependency of the Lord upon His Father. Even though He was God, He committed every detail of His life to His Father.
God appreciated the Lord’s devotion and three times during His public ministry commended Him for His devotedness. Luke 9:35. John 12 and 20:28. How dependent are we on God?
Note the Spirit’s involvement in the Lord’s work
He aligned Himself with Christ in His ministry. The Godhead was totally involved in the ministry of Christ.
The Lord was anointed with the Spirit of His baptism. Luke 3:21-23. He was controlled by the Spirit in His ministry. “He cast out demons by the Spirit.” Matt 12:28. Luke 4:1 “He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.” Luke 4:14 “He returned from the wilderness in the power of the Spirit.” Luke 4:18 “Jesus said,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me.
“He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel” etc.
to heal the broken-hearted.
to preach deliverance to the captives.
to give sight to the blind.
to set at liberty them that are bruised.
To introduce the acceptable year of the Lord.
He stood before this group in Nazareth as the Evangelist filled with the Spirit - Messiah - Healer - and Emancipator. In being subject to the Spirit, Christ demonstrated His total devotion to God.
During the three years of His public ministry the Lord had no visible means of support. Though He owned everything, He had nothing. “He came unto His own.” Between the manger and the Cross. “No where to lay His head.” A few women of substance took care of Jesus and His disciples. Luke 8:2. “I came not to be ministered unto.”
The Lord, as God, knew:
· the hazards of His future life. Shadow of the Cross.
· the bitterness of His suffering and death.
· the triumph of His resurrection and ascension.
The Lord did not relinquish His Deity - He laid aside His glory. Despite His comprehensive knowledge, in total and inimitable obedience, He set His face as a flint to go to Jerusalem. He was unyielding and inflexible in His obedience to God. “I came to do Thy will of God” Heb 10:9.
As God He was conversant with every detail of His earthly sojourn. As man He went forward steadfastly, anticipating every stage. When the people asked for a sign to prove the authenticity of His claims, He reminded them of the story of Jonah. Luke 11:29-30. “For as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish” etc. Matt 12.
The Lord was fully aware of God’s purpose for His being on earth, to procure redemption for last mankind.
He was fully aware of what this would cost Him - of His ignominious death - the three days His body would be in the tomb—He knew also that He would rise again the third day. See Luke 9:22 and Luke 18:31-33.
At the outset of His ministry He said, “My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.” John 4:34.
Prior to Gethsemane He said, “I have glorified Thee on the earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest Me to do.” John 17:1-4.
In these verses the Lord established the unceremonious ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper is beautiful in it simplicity, majestic in its complexity. For nineteen hundred years believers of various persuasions have celebrated this feast in one form or another, calling to remembrance the Lord’s death, resurrection, and coming.
And He took bread and gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is “My body” which is given for you.’
Likewise, also, He took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them saying, ‘This is the New Testament in “My blood” which is shed for you.’
Think for a moment of the trauma, the wound, the distress, the hurt, the pain and anguish of the occasion. My Body—My Blood.
Think also of the magnificence of it all. The body had not as yet been given, nor had the blood been shed.
But the Lord speaks as though the work of the Cross was an accomplished fact.
The incident exemplifies the exemplary devotion of the Lord to His Father’s will.
The experience of the Lord in Gethsemane would have stood alone in unique and unapproachable wonder, had it not been followed by 15 hrs. of even greater mystery, culminating in the Cross.
The strongest words in the Greek language are used to describe the anguish through which the Savior passed in the dark recesses of Gethsemane. Utterly astounded - distressed - depressed - sorrowful unto death.
Our Lord knew the message and the meaning of Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. He was conversant with the pain—the torment—and the tortuous, dreadful agony of the Cross. Above all He knew the consequences of being made sin, and shrank from it.
The Gethsemane experience drove the Lord into the vortex of insufferable anguish, and caused Him to sweat as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.
Despite this tortuous, dreadful, and distressing experience, His devotion to the Father never faltered.
“Not My will but Thine be done,” He cried, from a distraught but determined heart.
Psalm 40:7-8 “Lo I come—I delight to do Thy will O God.”
We cannot separate the Lord’s life work on earth, from His redemptive work on the Cross.
The purpose for which He came to earth was to do the will of God, and redeem mankind.
Jesus Himself said, “I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32.
The three years of the Lord’s public ministry was spent pleading with men and woman to return to God.
“He came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10.
He wept over Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem” etc. Luke 19:41.
As the true Shepherd He searched for lost sheep. Luke 15:3-7.
He searched for the lost in all segments of society. He found fishermen—tax gatherers—sinners of the deepest dye—the out-casts of humanity—He healed the leper—He touched the untouchables.
He found them in the sheets of the city—He found them in the highways and byways of life. He also reached into the upper crust of society.
No one was exempt from His purpose, and mission of redemption. He told the Good News to the rich - the poor - the learned - the unlearned. He preached to the lame - the halt - the blind.
In His effort to reach men He crossed ethnic and cultural boundaries. He preached to Samaritans—and to the Gentiles—as well as to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
The great harvest of souls was ever before Him. John 4:35 “Lift up your eyes, and behold the fields white unto harvest.”
Neither opposition nor persecution could divert Him from the purpose for which He came, to seek and to save the lost.
While on earth He called men into His service. Andrew and Peter - James and John. He called them for one purpose; that they should follow Him, and be made into “fishers of men.”
Paul was a preacher of the Gospel and a seeker of souls from his conversion. Paul was an Evangelist, he sought men and women for Christ. Rom 1:1 He was separated unto the Gospel of God. He said, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ.” Rom 1:16.
He also said, “Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel.” 1 Cor 9:16. He counted himself under obligation to preach Christ crucified, risen, ascended, and coming again.
He preached to civilized peoples, and to heathen nations. He preached Christ to the cultured, and the uncultured—to the learned, and the simple—to the educated, and uneducated.
Paul was dedicated to preach the Gospel to the fullest extent of his ability. 2 Cor 10:14 and 16. “We stretch ourselves beyond measure to preach His Gospel of Christ to you, and in the regions beyond you.”
Each of the disciples were martyred for preaching the Gospel.
Soul winners in each generation since then have preached and died for the Gospel of Christ.
To Andrew, Peter, James, and John, Jesus said, “Follow Me, and I will teach you to catch men alive.” The Lord said to these men ‘I will make you “fishers,”’ not teachers.
Note the order of the gifts in Ephesians 4. Evangelists—pastors—teachers. Where are the evangelists among us today? Where are the men who, being filled with the Holy Spirit, can speak words accompanied by such convicting power that men and women are blasted from quarries of sin, dragged from the cesspool of immorality and homosexuality, from alcoholism and drug addiction, led from the respectable world of the make believe of modern religion.
Maybe the pristine days of the Gospel Crusades are over. Mass evangelism is falling short of earlier predictions.
But there is still a great and effectual door open to all of us as individual. There are lonely and troubled hearts all around us.
The Lord used the method of personal evangelism effectively. Why don’t we use it?
When that privileged group left the Upper Room, after receiving the Holy Spirit, each one had a new power. Some were given power for special tasks, but all were given power to witness. And witness they did, sometimes at great cost.
As they witnessed, great numbers were added to the Lord.
· The Word of God increased.
· The message of the Gospel kept spreading.
· The numbers of disciples greatly multiplied.
So great was the movement of the Spirit, that it posed a threat to the authorities, who, in reprisal, let loose severe persecution against the fervent evangelists. Despite this they continued to “preach and teach Jesus Christ in the courts of the Temple and in every house.”
The majority of us here, and the movement to which we belong, have become like the French soldiers who stood behind their supposedly impregnable Maginot Line. They became fat and lazy, and in their complacency lost the desire for aggressive warfare, and were crushed by the enemy.
Many of us are like this, we are hiding behind the fortress of the impregnable Word. We pride ourselves in our knowledge of the truth, while at the same time many are delinquent in practicing it.
We gather congenially in our various fellowships where blessings are many and demands are few. We have become lethargic like the French soldiers. We have lost our aggressiveness in the Gospel.
We have lost the Vision for a perishing world. We have lost, to a great extent, the Passion for souls. We have no real Mission for God.
Beloved, life is short—eternity is sure—hell is real. General Booth.
“Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead”—the death sleep of lethargy and complacency. Eph 5:14.
“As the Father has sent Me, into the world, to save men and women, so send I you.” John 20.
Brothers and sisters in past days have heard the challenge and accepted the call.
Today, in slowly diminishing numbers, some are bearing the torch. Toiling and fighting against formidable forces of evil.
All this, while many of us here in this Chapel sit in complacency and smugness, content to be carried to the skies in flowery beds of ease, while others fight to win the prize and sail through bloody seas.
Ezekiel 3:17-19. Son of man I have made thee a watchman. Therefore hear the word of My mouth, and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked—Thou shalt surely die—and thou givest him not warning—the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity—but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turns not from his wickedness, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.