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LUKE 1:26-38 - Flesh And Blood

Advent 2022  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  36:07
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Without the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, there is no salvation for us

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Introduction

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where someone was in the process of unwittingly contradicting themselves? For instance, I remember a Christmas party years and years ago where one individual was loudly and unequivocally expressing their hatred of venison, while simultaneously singing the praises of the (one hundred percent venison) sloppy joe she was eating. It’s hard not to feel a little embarrassed on their behalf, but at the same time pretty entertaining, isn’t it?
I have to say that watching the world around us celebrate Christmas feels more than a little bit like that—truly, if the culture we live in really understood the ingredients of Christmas, they would not be so eager to consume it. To be sure, the world around us tries to drown the substance of Christmas the way someone tries to drown out the taste of a meal by dumping it with ketchup—piling the holiday with “Deck them halls and all that stuff… Santa Claus and ho ho ho and mistletoe and presents for pretty girls...” in order to cover up the essence of what this day represents:
Matthew 1:21 (ESV)
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
And so Christmas is an especially good time for us to reaffirm some of the foundational truths of our faith. And one of the most crucial, non-negotiable truths of biblical faith is established for us here in our text this morning—the virgin birth of Christ. The doctrine of the virgin birth as we hold it states that
VIRGIN BIRTH: Jesus’ birth was the result of a MIRACULOUS CONCEPTION whereby the Virgin Mary conceived a baby in her womb by the POWER of the HOLY SPIRIT, without a HUMAN father.
(Adapted from Sproul, R. C., ed. (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1782). Reformation Trust.)
We see this doctrine established in the words the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary:
Luke 1:31–35 (ESV)
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
We make it a regular practice to affirm our belief in the virgin birth of Christ as part of our observance of the Lord’s Supper when we read the Apostles’ Creed, which states
I believe in Jesus Christ, [God’s] only Son, our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
The reason that we are so careful to affirm this doctrine so carefully and so often is because of the way this doctrine is stated in another creed we use in our worship, the Nicene Creed, which states that Christ “came down from heaven; He became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and was made human” for us and for our salvation.
And so what I want you to see from the Scriptures this morning is how absolutely foundational Christ’s virgin birth is to your salvation—the way I want to say it is:
If Christ was not VIRGIN BORN, you cannot be BORN AGAIN
And so the way I want to support that aim is by showing you first the importance of this doctrine for rightly understanding who Jesus is, and then by showing you why Jesus’ virgin birth is such good news for us.
So look with me at our text this morning. We see here first that

I. The virgin birth means that Jesus is truly HUMAN (Luke 1:31)

Luke 1:31 (ESV)
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
There are some theologians and scholars who, instead of the term “virgin birth”, will refer to the “virgin conception” of Jesus, since—technically speaking—Jesus actual birth was exactly the same as every other human being who has ever lived on this planet! When we affirm the virgin birth of Jesus, we are affirming that
He was not a man in APPEARANCE only
—He was truly and completely human. In the centuries after Christ’s earthly ministry a particular heresy called docetism began to infect the church. Docetists taught that since matter and the physical realm was intrinsically evil that the purity and perfection of Christ’s deity could not have actually been associated with a real human body. So instead the Docetists insisted that Jesus only looked like a man, but in reality was just a manifestation of the Divine that appeared human. A modern manifestation of this heresy is found in Islam, which teaches that Christ only appeared to die on the Cross, but Allah took Him away before He could die:
And because of their saying: We slew the Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, Allah's messenger — they slew him not nor crucified him, but it appeared so unto them... But Allah took him up unto Himself. Allah was ever Mighty, Wise. (Quran 4:157-158)
But this is why the affirmation that Jesus was fully human is so crucial to our salvation. Because
If he was not human, He could not be your SUBSTITUTE (Romans 8:3-4)
This is why the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8:3-4:
Romans 8:3–4 (ESV)
3... By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
This is why we say that if Jesus was not virgin-born you cannot be born again: Because in order for Jesus to pay the penalty for your sins, He had to be one of us. Because we are flesh and blood, He had to be flesh and blood in order to represent us. A god who looked like a man could not represent you—only a man who shared your nature could represent you before God.
But here we come across a major obstacle: How can we be represented by a man, if all men share in the guilt of sin? If we say that Jesus was fully and completely human, aren’t we saying that He therefore was a sinner as well? Since all flesh has sinned, how can we say that Jesus is not a sinner like us?
And this is the second non-negotiable truth that this doctrine establishes for us:

II. The virgin birth means that Jesus is truly GOD (Luke 1:32-33, 43)

Look again at what Gabriel told Mary about the baby she would bear:
Luke 1:32–33 (ESV)
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
See that the angel is making it clear that Mary’s Son would be the
Son of the MOST HIGH God (v. 35; cp. Daniel 4:2; Mark 5:7)
We see it again in verse 35:
Luke 1:35 (ESV)
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
The phrase “Most High God” is used in Daniel 4:2 to describe YHWH Himself:
Daniel 4:2 (ESV)
2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has done for me.
And when the demon-possessed man cowered before Jesus in Mark 5, they called Him the same thing:
Mark 5:7 (ESV)
7 And crying out with a loud voice, he said, “What have you to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I adjure you by God, do not torment me.”
Now, the phrase “son of God” has been misapplied when talking about Jesus—early in the Third Century a priest in Alexandria, Egypt named Arius began teaching that Jesus was a created being, Who had divinity applied to Him; that He was inferior in His divine nature to God the Father. (A modern-day example of Arianism is found in cults like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who teach that Jesus was an inferior being created by God).
But the problem with that teaching about Jesus is that the Scriptures do not describe Him as inferior to God—the Scriptures demonstrate that Christ is God Himself!
One quick example will have to do for now—and this is a demonstration from the Scriptures that you can share with JW’s when they visit you. Turn to Psalm 102 (page 502 in the pew Bible). Verses 25-27 say:
Psalm 102:25–27 (ESV)
25 Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end.
Now—who are those verses talking about? It’s clear that they are talking about YHWH (“Jehovah”, as the Witnesses like to say). Now—turn to Hebrews 1 (p. 1001). Starting in verse 8 that the writer is quoting Old Testament passages about the Son. And in verses 10-11 the passage from Psalm 102 is quoted about Jesus Christ:
Hebrews 1:10–12 (ESV)
10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”
To call Jesus the “Son of the Most High God” is not to say that He is inferior—it is to say that He is the “exact imprint of His nature” (Hebrews 1:3), so that Jesus could say clearly to Philip in John 14:9, “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father” and in John 10:30, “I and the Father are one.”
Jesus is God. Utterly. Totally. There is no way in which He is not God. The great adversary of Arius in the Third Century, Athanasius, went so far as to say in the creed that he influenced and that bears his name,
That we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, God's Son, is both God and human, equally. He is God from the essence of the Father, begotten before time; and he is human from the essence of his mother, born in time; completely God, completely human, with a rational soul and human flesh; equal to the Father as regards divinity, less than the Father as regards humanity...
and that “one cannot be saved without holding this faith firmly and faithfully.”
Athanasius insisted so vehemently on this truth about Christ’s divinity because
If He was not God, He could not be your ATONEMENT (v. 35; cp. 1 Peter 3:18)
Look again at what Gabriel said to Mary—because Jesus would be born by the power of the Holy Spirit of the Most High God, He would be holy:
Luke 1:35 (ESV)
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.
Because Jesus is God Himself, He is utterly without sin. He is holy, and that is why He is able to save you. The Apostle Peter writes in his first letter that it was because of Jesus’ sinless divine nature that your sins could be paid by His death:
1 Peter 3:18 (ESV)
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,
If Jesus had had a sin nature like us, He would only have suffered for His own sins on the Cross. But the glorious truth of the Virgin Birth is that Jesus was born of God as the sinless, perfect God-Man, equal to the Father as regards His divinity, and less than the Father as regards His humanity. As a man He could take your place and represent you on that Cross, and as God He could apply the satisfaction of that penalty to you! Because Jesus was virgin-born, you can be born again!
The virgin birth means that Jesus is truly human, and it means that He is truly God. And there is one more wonderful assurance that we have that is rooted in the fact of Jesus’ virgin birth--

III. The virgin birth means that Jesus is your HIGH PRIEST (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Turn with me to Hebrews 4 (p. 1003). Look with me at verses 14-16:
Hebrews 4:14–16 (ESV)
14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
A priest is one who represents God before man, and represents man before God. So see how perfectly Jesus fills that role for us! Was there ever a clearer representative of God for man than Him? Or can there ever be a more perfect advocate for us before God than Him? The writer of Hebrews says—as Athanasius would have said—to hold fast your confession of Christ as the perfect, sinless, virgin-born God-Man, since
He is able to SAVE you (Heb. 4:14)
When you come in faith to Him, repenting of your sin and believing that on that Cross He suffered your death-penalty for sin under the wrath of God, and that He rose again the third day victorious over death and declared thereby with power to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4), co-equal and co-eternal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, the virgin-born God-Man saves you for all eternity. So hold fast to this good confession of Christ, your great High Priest who has atoned for your sin before God!
If that is all that we had been given by our great High Priest—assurance of forgiveness of our sins against God and His perfect righteousness applied to us that guarantees our eternal home in Heaven with Him—that would be enough to secure our praise and worship and love and delight in Him forever, wouldn’t it?
But beloved, see how much more assurance the virgin birth of your great High Priest gives you—not only that He is able to save you, but
He is able to UNDERSTAND you (Heb. 4:15)
Hebrews 4:15 (ESV)
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Christian—you have a great High Priest in Jesus that, because He was born of a virgin, truly man—understands your weaknesses! The phrase “tempted in every way” can also be translated “tested in every way” or “put to the test”. He suffered like you, He was tempted like you, He was pushed to His extremes physically, emotionally, spiritually—but He never broke.
And that means He understands what you are going through! When you are alone, when you are exhausted, when you are heartbroken, when you are weary, when you are wondering whether you have the strength to what you need to do, when you are forsaken, when you are being buried under testing, temptation and trials, you have a Savior who looks on you and says to you, “I had days like that too! I remember going through that exact same hardship! I’ve been there!
Now, there are a lot of people who can sympathize with you, aren’t there? There are a lot of people who have suffered like you have, who have been broken like you have, who have been battered and beaten down and tested and crushed like you have. But how many of those fellow sufferers can do anything to help you in your suffering? Not many of them, and of those who can, they can only do so much.
But your virgin-born Savior is able not only to understand you,
He is able to HELP you (Heb 4:16)
Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
See here this wonderful gift that you have been given because you belong to the virgin-born, flesh and blood Savior, the God-Man Jesus Christ—in His humanity He understands you, and in His divinity He is able to help you!
There is nowhere else that you can find such mercy than in the hands of the great High Priest who suffered what you are suffering! When you come to Him He does not blame you or scold you or belittle you for your weakness—He was weak too! No one will ever meet you with greater or more tender mercy than Jesus Christ!
There is nowhere else that you can find such grace to help you in your time of need than in the nail-scarred hands of your virgin-born great High Priest! When you come to Him for help, He fills you with the grace and strength to keep obeying Him in the middle of trials, to respond to your circumstances with God-honoring grace instead of anger and bitterness, to meet your hour of agony and weakness knowing that you have the sympathy of God Himself!
Because Jesus was virgin-born, you can be born again. Because He was virgin-born, you have a great High Priest who understands, a High Priest who can help.
Are you here this morning weighed down by your circumstances, your weaknesses, your sensitivities and infirmities? Was it hard to get here this morning because of your grief, your anxiety, your depression? Then fly to your great High Priest for your refuge! He has been watching you all morning in this service, and He is saying to you now, “I get it. I know what you are going through, because I went through the same trial!” Bring your pain to Him, bring it all before Him and cry out to Him and find mercy and grace to help you!
Are you here this morning weighed down by the guilt and shame of your sin before God? Have you spent this past hour in this service acutely aware that you don’t belong here because the record of your sins stands against you? When we spent time earlier confessing our sins before God and heard the assurances of pardon from God’s Word did you wonder whether or not that applied to you because of the life you are living and your carelessness towards God’s righteous demands? Are you not even sure that God would accept you if you did come to Him?
Then here is the marvelous Good News for you this morning: This Great High Priest, Who was born of a virgin to take your humanity up into His deity, did so in order to take on the penalty for every sin you have ever committed against the righteousness of God! He became every sin you ever committed; He suffered and died under the infinite wrath of a holy God so that you wouldn’t have to! And He stands today as the great High Priest Who offers you His own righteousness so that you will stand forever righteous in the sight of God!
Do you think it’s impossible for God to do this—to forgive you completely and erase the record of your sins against Him and re-make you into the image of His own righteousness? You know, Mary thought it would be impossible for her to bear a Son apart from the involvement of a human father. And the angel’s response was to point to her cousin Elizabeth, who had become pregnant after a long life of infertility—because
Luke 1:37 (ESV)
37 ...nothing will be impossible with God.”
You say you’re too much of a sinner, that it’s too late for you, that you’re so broken and ruined by a lifetime of sin that it’s impossible for God to change you? If God could bring a new life out of Elizabeth’s old, broken down, barren body, then He can bring new life out of the broken barrenness of your long lifetime of sin! So what are you waiting for? Why do you want to linger in that condemnation one moment further? Your great, gracious, merciful, virgin-born High Priest waits to birth you all over again in newness of life! So come—and welcome!—to Jesus Christ!
BENEDICTION:
Jude 24–25 (ESV)
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:

Are you more accustomed to thinking about Jesus in terms of His humanity, or His divinity? Why is it important that we do not neglect one side of His nature in favor of the other?
Read Psalm 102:25-27 and Hebrews 1:6-12 again. How do these passages demonstrate that Jesus is not just similar to God Himself, but is Himself God in human flesh?
What is the significance of affirming that Jesus came into the world through the normal process of childbirth? Read Hebrews 4:14-16 again. What comforts can you draw from knowing Jesus shared flesh and blood with you?
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