Today I want to talk to you about the greatest miracle that ever took place, and the one that makes Christianity unique and greater than any other religion. We will consider Christmas and the uniqueness of Christ.
This is the time of year when we celebrate Christmas. And what is Christmas? Christmas is the joyful occasion when we remember the birth of Christ, the coming of Christ into the world.
How Christianity Is Different
Christmas is the time when we celebrate and give thanks for the greatest miracle that ever took place. The Bible records many many marvelous miracles that we could consider; many that we have considered. The Bible tells us about…
- The origin of the universe, how “the universe was created by the word of God” (Hebrews 11:3). God created everything from nothing by speaking it into existence. That was certainly a miracle.
- It was a miracle that the Israelites crossed the Red Sea as on dry ground.
- There were the miracles of provision in the wilderness.
- Many miracles were performed through the ministries of Elijah and Elisha.
- There were many miracles of healing performed by Jesus so that the lame walked, the deaf heard, the blind saw, lepers were cleansed, and the dead were raised.
- We could consider the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a truly great miracle that guarantees the future resurrection of believers.
- We could also consider the virgin birth, and we will consider it, but even the virgin birth is not the greatest miracle that ever took place.
If none of these miracles are the greatest miracle, then what is the greatest miracle? The greatest miracle that ever took place is what we read in the Gospel according to John, chapter 1, verse 14. It is the miracle of the Incarnation:
John 1:14 ESV And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The greatest miracle that ever took place is the one that we celebrate each year at Christmas: God became man. The New Living Translation reads like this:
John 1:14 NLT So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
John begins that first chapter of his Gospel by telling us that the Word which became human was none other than God himself:
John 1:1-3 ESV 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. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
In his introduction to his Gospel, the Apostle John tells us that
- “In the beginning, the Word already existed” (John 1:1 NLT).
- The Word was with That is, that he was in an active eternal relationship with God.
- The Word was The Bislama Bible says it like this: “Tok ya, hem i stap wetem God, mo hem tu i God” (Joh 1:1 BSN)
- The Word became “Tok ya I kam man.” God took upon himself humanity. Without ceasing to be what he was, he became what he had not been. Without ceasing to be God, he became a man. He had not been a man, but he became a man. He took upon himself humanity.
A few verses later, John tells us the same thing in different words:
John 1:18 ESV No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
- No one has ever seen God. Some men claim to have seen God, but the Bible clearly says that no man has ever seen God the Father.
- The one who was with God in the beginning, that is, the one “who is at the Father’s side,” he has made God known.
- And how does John describe this one who is at the Father’s side, the one who was with him and has made him known? The Apostle John calls him “the only God.” Listen to the verse again:
John 1:18 ESV No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
John 1:18 BSN I no gat man we i luk God samtaem. Jisas nomo hem i stret pikinini blong God, mo hem i God. Oltaem hem i stap klosap long Papa blong hem, mo hem nomo i soemaot Papa blong hem long yumi.
This is how the Apostle Paul describes it in Philippians 2:
Philippians 2:6-8 ESV [Christ Jesus] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
This then is the greatest miracle, the miracle of Christmas, and the miracle that makes Christianity different from every other religion. Not simply the virgin birth, but the fact that the baby born in Bethlehem was none other than God himself. God in the flesh. God became man and made his home among us. He is the God-man. Fully God and fully man. The founder of Christianity was not merely a man, but God in the flesh. Jesus Christ was fully man, to be sure, but he was also God in the flesh. This is the miracle of Christmas! Without ceasing to be God, God became a man. The babe in the manger was God in the flesh.
Christmas Is Not about the Birth of an Outstanding Person
As we commemorate the birth of Christ, we do not simply celebrate the birth of a child, nor the birth of an outstanding person such as
- Confucius (551-479 B.C.)
- Socrates (469-399 B.C.)
- Plato (424-348 B.C.)
- Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)
- Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.)
- Muhammad (A.D. 570-632)
- Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
- Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
- Martin Luther (1483-1546)
- Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727)
- Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
No, we are not simply celebrating the birth of some famous person. Nor are we simply celebrating the birth of a man named Jesus. We are celebrating the birth of the Christ. That is why it is called Christ-mas. Any way you want to cut it, Christmas is the celebration of the coming of the Christ into the world. You cannot talk about Christmas without talking about Christ.
The First Coming
We remember and celebrate the first coming of the Christ into the world. The first coming? Yes. Because this same Jesus, Jesus the Christ, will come again. And as we consider world events and the way the prophecies of the Bible are unfolding before our very eyes, we would do well to do what Christ told us to do: to look toward heaven, understanding that the time of Christ’s second coming is drawing nearer every day.
It Was a Coming: Jesus Came from Heaven
Jesus Christ claimed to be sent from God. He told Nicodemus,
John 3:13 NIVO No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven–the Son of Man.
John the Baptist describes Jesus the Christ in John 3:31,
John 3:31 NIVO “The one who comes from above is above all… The one who comes from heaven is above all.
Jesus says of himself…
John 6:38 NIVO For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:51 NIVO I am the living bread that came down from heaven…
The people were complaining about his teaching. Aware that they…
John 6:61-62 NIVO …were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 What if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before!
Jesus is not like us. You and I have never been to heaven. We did not come from heaven. We did not exist before we were conceived in the wombs of our earthly mothers. At that moment of conception, we began to exist. At that moment, our human lives began.
— Young lady, that baby in your womb is a human being, created in the image of God. It is not your life; it is the life of a pre-born child. It is sacred. You must cherish it and love it and care for it. —
At the moment of conception, our lives begin. But we had no existence whatsoever before that moment of human conception.
Not so with the Son of God. Before the beginning, the Word was with God. God the Son, the second person of the Godhead, has always existed. Hebrews 7:3 says that he is “without beginning of days.”
Jesus prayed to His Father the night before his crucifixion,
John 17:5 ESV And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
God Prepared a Body for the Son
The Son of God was with the Father, but neither the Father nor the Son had a body.
- Jesus tells us in John 4:24 that “God is Spirit.”
- He also tells us very plainly in Luke 24:39 that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.” That is why the Bible tells us that God is invisible and that no one has seen him at any time. God does not have a body. He is not material; He is Spirit.
It was through the virgin birth that God prepared a body for His Son. This is called the Incarnation, God coming in human flesh. So we read in…
Hebrews 10:5 NLT That is why, when Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer.
For what reason would Christ need to come into the world? For what reason would he need a body to offer?
Hebrews 10:10 NLT For God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time.
Hebrews 10:12 NLT But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time…
Hebrews 10:14 NLT For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy.
The Word became flesh. Jesus Christ came into the world to offer himself as a sacrifice for our sins. Christmas points to the cross. Christmas is all about the first coming of the Christ.
The Title Christ
Since Christmas is about the first coming of the Christ, what do we mean when we speak of the “Christ”? First of all, the word “Christ” is not a name; “Christ” is a title. “Christ” is not Jesus’s last name. It is a title like “Prime Minister” or “President” or “Ambassador.” The title “Christ” refers to Jesus the Christ. It is one of his many titles such as
- The Son of God
- The Good Shepherd
- The Great High Priest
- The King of kings, and
- The Lord of lords
But just what does Christ mean? Many Christians do not know what the title Christ means. When you ask them what the word “Christ” means, they will give you various answers, like “Son of God” or “Lord” or “Savior.” While Jesus is the Son of God and our only Lord and Savior, and each of these titles refer to Jesus Christ, the word “Christ” does not mean Son of God or Lord or Savior. Jesus is the one and only Son of God; he is the only Lord and Savior, but he is also the Christ.
So what does Christ mean? It means “the anointed one.” The Hebrew language gives us the word “Messiah,” and the Greek language gives us the word “Christ,” but they both mean the same thing. Messiah and Christ both mean “the anointed one.” In the Old Testament, there were three classes of people who were anointed: prophets, priests, and kings. They were anointed as specially prepared anointing oil was poured on their heads to symbolize the empowering of the Holy Spirit to fulfill their ministry.
But throughout the Old Testament, we find promises of the coming Christ, the one who would be anointed of the Holy Spirit, not only as a prophet, or as a priest, or as a king, but as THE Prophet, Priest, and King. He is THE Promised One. He is the one that all Israel was waiting for. He is the one that the world was waiting for. We read about the coming of Christ, the Anointed One, in Matthew 2:
Matthew 2:1-6 ESV Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, 2 saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” 3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; 4 and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 5 They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: 6 “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.'”
Let’s notice a few things that this passage of holy Scripture teaches us:
- Christ was born king. The wise men came asking, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” Jesus would not become king at a certain age or some time in the future. He was “born king.” That means that by his very nature, Jesus is King. The wise men came from the east to find and worship The One “who has been born king of the Jews.”
- The birth of Christ was first announced by a star. The wise men said, “We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” A new book was just published a book in September entitled The Great Christ Comet: Revealing the True Star of Bethlehem. The book has been very favorably received by serious Bible scholars. The birth of Christ was first announced by a star which may actually have been a special comet that God prepared to lead the wise men to the Christ.
- The birthplace of the Christ was prophesied 700 years before his birth. Herod the king assembled “all the chief priests and scribes of the people” and “he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.” They told him that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem of Judah as Micah the prophet had foretold.
Centuries before the birth of Christ, it was already known that he was coming. It had already been prophesied that he would be a ruler. In fact, 700 years before his birth, Isaiah had prophesied,
Isaiah 9:6-7 ESV For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
No other founder of a religion had his birth announced centuries beforehand. The prophets never foretold the birth of Gautama Buddha, or Confucius, or Muhammed. Their births were never announced by a special star. Wise men from the east never came to worship them at their birth. None of them were born kings. None of them were ever give the titles Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, or Christ. None can compare with the incomparable Christ.
But that’s not all. None of them were born of a virgin.
Again, 700 years before the birth of the Christ, the prophet Isaiah had declared,
Isaiah 7:14 ESV Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Virgins do not conceive. In the entire history of humanity, from Eve to the present, no virgin has ever conceived. Except one.
Luke 1:26-35 ESV …the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 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.
Mary was a virgin. She remained a virgin according to Matthew 1:25 “until she had given birth to a son.”
Matthew 1:22-23 ESV All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).
The Lord had spoken by the prophet Isaiah 700 years before the birth of Christ that this virgin-born child would be called Immanuel. As Matthew writes his Gospel, he points to the birth of Christ and says, “This is it! All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said by the prophet. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
And then, just in case we did not know it, Matthew tells us just what that means: “they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us).” The Apostle Matthew, one of the disciples chosen by Jesus Christ and commissioned to be an apostle, one authorized to tell us what it all means… This Matthew tells us that Jesus would be called Immanuel because Jesus is God with us.
- Jesus the Christ was not an angel.
- He was not an archangel.
- He was not a superman.
- He was not a created being of any kind.
- He was God. He was and he is and will forever be God.
No other major world religion claims this of its founder. Christianity distinguishes itself from every other major religion by the very claim that its founder was none other than God himself. No other founder of a world religion claimed to be God.
- Gautama Buddha never claimed to be God.
- Muhammed never claimed to be God.
- Nor did their closest followers claim that these founders were God.
But Jesus the Christ claimed to be God and his followers claimed that he was God manifested in the flesh.
No other founder of a world religion…
- Claimed to be God
- No other founder’s birth was prophesied centuries beforehand.
- No one else was ever born of a virgin.
- No one else had a star announcing their birth and showing their birthplace.
- No one else had the visit of wise men from the East who came to worship.
- No one else had angels announcing the birth.
- No one else had an angelic choir singing “Glory to God in the highest…”
- No one else was worshipped by the angels (Hebrew 1:6).
- No one else was God.
So why would your trust your eternal destiny to anyone else? Why would you follow anyone but Christ?
John 14:6 ESV Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
The angel had said to Joseph,
Matthew 1:21 ESV She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
The apostles declared,
Acts 4:12 ESV And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
1 Timothy 2:5 ESV For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
Turn to him and be saved. I trust that you will have a Christ-filled Christmas as we celebrate the greatest miracle that ever happened: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us…”