2016-12-04 Born of Woman

Cornerstone EPC                                                                              Sunday morning
Franklin, NC 28734                                                                          December 4, 2016

“Born of Woman”
Text: Galatians 4:4-5

We continue today in Galatians 4:4-5, on these Sundays leading to Christmas, in a short sermon series entitles God Sent Forth His Son.  Last week, we saw how God sent forth His Son in the fullness of time—at just the right time in His story, His providential history.  This week, we see how God sent forth His Son, born of woman—and we note the implications of this fact.  Let us give attention once again to God’s Word read and proclaimed in this place.

(HERE READ THE TEXT)

We focus today on the fact that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, was born of woman.  God announced this fact, through the prophet Isaiah, over seven hundred years before He brought it to pass.  Hear now those matchless prophetic words, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His Name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14b).  God’s Son, born of woman is necessary for the incarnation of Him Who Augustine (354-430) called the God-man.

The early church leaders at Chalcedon, in northwestern Turkey, in A. D. 451 got the matter right: Jesus is both fully God and fully man.  Orthodox Christian faith has affirmed this ever since.  Jesus, being fully God, is fully able to save; there is nothing or no one that can frustrate His power or His design.  Moreover, His sacrifice, accomplished on Calvary’s cross, is infinitely meritorious.  Nothing less can atone for our sin.  Furthermore, Jesus, being fully man, is able to identify with us to the uttermost.  We see this clearly in Philippians 2:6-8, where Paul, led by the Spirit, tells us that Jesus—full of divinity and of divine prerogative—humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Jesus, in so doing, bore our sin in our stead and, thus, atoned for it.  It was necessary and beneficial, then, that Jesus be born of woman.

It was furthermore necessary and beneficial that Jesus be born of the precise woman who bore Him, Mary of Nazareth.  First, she was of the line of David (cf. Luke 3:23-38)—as was Joseph (cf. Matthew 1:1-17), the one to whom she was betrothed, or pledged in marriage.  Hence, Jesus descends, humanly speaking, from David through both main branches of His human ancestry.  Jesus’ Messiahship, then, fulfills God’s royal promise to David almost a millennium earlier (2 Samuel 7:16)—for Jesus, twenty-eight generations after David, is the infinitely greater son of David.

Second, Jesus was conceived in Mary in a unique, miraculous way.  Mary asked the angel Gabriel, “How will this be, because I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34, my translation from the Greek).  This comes to pass through virginal conception.  That is, the power of the Most High overshadowed Mary (and that with no hint of sexual union), and, hence, the Child to be born is the Son of God Himself.  Jesus, then, has a unique parentage: a human mother and a divine Father.

Mary, once Gabriel explained all to her, knew all that Gabriel explained.  So also Joseph knew all from an unnamed angel who spoke to him in a dream.  Yet, apparently, none of their fellow townspeople knew what they knew.  They were left to mere conjecture—and it is possible that they construed the worst from what they saw.  Likely Mary and Joseph endured considerable stigma.  The fact that Mary was pregnant before the marriage was solemnized, even though they were betrothed already to each other, was a great scandal.  In fact, it was tantamount to adultery—and Joseph legitimately could have sought divorce on those grounds.  Joseph himself was subject to this stigma at least to some degree.  Folks either would think him the human father, or they would think another man the human father.  In either case the appearance isn’t good to the uninformed.

Yet, despite all of this, there is great joy for Mary.  At the end of Gabriel’s remarks, she declares herself the Lord’s handmaiden—submissive to His will (Luke 1:38).  After the Spirit-empowered expression of praise from Elizabeth, her kinswoman, Mary herself utters forth Spirit-led praise.  We know Mary’s praise of God as the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55).[1]  Her spirit magnifies the Lord and rejoices in God, her Savior.  Then she turns to praise Him for His Person and work.  Indeed, in this unique event—and resultant unique constitution of Jesus—there is much over which we too may rejoice.

God Himself, in the Person of His Son, entered time and space robed not in royal raiment, but in flesh.  This indeed is good news for us.  Jesus, God in the flesh, sympathizes with us in our weakness (cf. Hebrews 4:14-16).  He knows experientially what it is to be human.  Jesus, God incarnate, entered this world in Bethlehem’s cattle stall to lay down His life for us years later on Calvary’s cross.  Now, Jesus—being raised to life, to die no more—ever lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 7:25).  Think of it: This Babe, conceived and born as He was, dying as He did, rising as He rose, prays for you and for me—and that with perfect efficacy.

Here, then, is the Savior of all who believe, sent forth by the Father in the fullness of time and born of woman—Mary of Nazareth.  Have we received Him, and that by faith alone?  Faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is the instrumental means to all that God guarantees to His redeemed folks.  Faith in Christ is the means to God’s abundant, eternal presence.  Faith in Christ is also the means to God’s very great and precious promises—all of which are yea and amen in Jesus.  Therefore, receive Him without delay, even just now, or continue to receive Him Who in the fullness of time was born of woman—Christ, the Lord.

AMEN.

[1] The word magnificat is the conjugated form of a Latin verb translated to magnify.

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