A unique birth

Reading the first two chapters of Luke’s gospel we are struck by the supernaturalism around the birth and childhood of Jesus Christ.

The Son of God sojourned among us, full of grace and truth. How did such an ineffable event happen? If we are to enjoy any reliability in the reporting, we need to take heed of the inspired record, without doubting it and yet without the harmful accumulation of apocryphal legend.

Luke purposefully writes to help us accomplish our desire. We would expect the coming of God's only Begotten Son to be accompanied by diverse miraculous events. It is a momentous arrival, for by his coming the covenants would be fulfilled: "The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David." All the promises of God made beforehand find their fulfilment in him. This necessarily entails God's special intervention.

For one thing, the man Christ Jesus had to be sinless, otherwise his coming would be futile: he himself would have needed a Saviour. So the necessity of the incarnation: "The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." Only thus could Christ be born sinless.

The whole record is interspersed with manifestly divine intervention: God uses political decisions to bring about his own ends; angels are sent to announce the arrival of the king; magi are moved to travel in search of the same by a star; individuals hail the child in the temple as "a light to lighten the Gentiles," and as "redemption," and "salvation."

No wonder that Mary pondered upon all these things and treasured them in her heart. Jesus was the only "normal" human being. And yet, being the epitome of humanity, a perfect child, he must have been assessed as very awkward by sinful man.

He was constantly and perfectly obedient; all his speech and actions were in conformity to the law. He grew up just as all other children grow up, increasing in wisdom and stature, in favour with God and man. Having said this, it is necessary to point out, though, that he was no ordinary child. For his meat was to do the will of Him who sent Him and to accomplish his work. His tarrying in the Temple brings this out to the fore. "How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not hat I must be about my Father's business?" This "normal" reply (normal by God's standards) must have sounded very jarring to his hearers.

In this way Luke sets the stage for the Son of Man being inaugurated in his public ministry, where even greater things are reported of him. But if we accept Luke's identification of him (the pre-existent Son of God) then we stand of solid ground and find it exhilarating to sit at his side and learn of him who is meek and gentle of heart.

And what's more, we will attach an infinite worth to his propitiatory death of the cross, whereby believers are reconciled to the Father. Supernatural from beginning to end, for this is not man's doing, but God's. Man's redemption required supernatural intervention.

A cordial acceptance

A hearty belief in the Incarnation is essential to the Christian faith as such as well as to personal saving faith.

a. Christianity.

Mary is rightly called the theotokos, the God-bearer; not to elevate her, to be sure, but the bring out the significance of the Child she bore. If this were not so, then the Christian religion must be relegated to the same level as any other world-religion. It would have nothing special to offer. Christianity falls or rises with the proper evaluation of the Incarnation. No other religion claims to present God as both Legislator and Redeemer of man, "God with us."

b. Saving faith.

Saving faith has an intellectual content; an agreement with those facts; and a hearty acting upon those facts in such a way that your will, emotions and mind are all affected. Now there is only one true Christ, not many.

The true Christ, who saves, is the one was is truly and properly God, who came down from heaven, being found in outward fashion as a man, who died a substitutionary death for the elect and was raised back to life for their justification. We are not free to accept some of the facts and reject others.

The whole Christ is presented to us in the Gospel; if we change the facts about the Incarnation (or any other even for that matter) then what we have is a false Christ. The Liberals and cults may speak much of Christ but certainly is not the biblical Christ; their faith therefore does not save.