Monday, December 12, 2011

The significance of Christ's birth to biblical Christianity

Isaiah 9:6-7 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah the prophet wrote these words over 750 years before that first Christmas night.  In this one verse we discover two towering truths about Jesus Christ: He would be born and He existed from all eternity.  What may seem at first to be a contradiction is actually central to identifying the person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus was virgin born as a true human being
Isaiah first of all identifies the Messiah as having a beginning.  In another passage, Isaiah 7:14, we discover that this birth will be a virgin birth.  This unusual detail is a cornerstone of the Christian faith for a couple of reasons.  First of all, it was a man who had broken God's law in the garden of Eden, and so a man would have to pay for the damages done by the giving of his life.  Unfortunately when God cursed humanity and the earth, all of humanity inherited the sin nature from Adam. 

Which leads us to the second important truth about the virgin birth of Jesus - that Jesus would not inherit the sin nature.  According to 1 Peter 1:18, the sin nature of Adam is transmitted down through the father's side of the human bloodline.  Since Jesus did not have a human father, He could not inherit the sin nature.  This is vital, since a sinless Savior is required to represent sinful man before a Holy God. 

Thus "Jesus" refers to Jesus Christ as truly man.  He would be "a son" given, "born" and having a beginning as it touches his humanity. 

Christ is Eternal God
Isaiah continues on describing the prophecy about the Messiah as being fully and completely God.  When we speak of "Jesus", we speak of His full humanity.  When we speak of "Christ" we are referring to Him being fully God.  Thus before Jesus Christ became a human being, He had pre-existed from all eternity.  Each title given here by Isaiah points us to this truth:

1. As Wonderful, Christ is shown to be beyond human comprehension. 
2. As Counselor He is God full of wisdom
3. The Mighty God is referring to His Divine Nature
4. Everlasting Father speaks to Him sharing the same nature as God the Father
5. Prince of Peace speaks to His Deity revealed through His humanity

Jesus Christ as God is equal in importance to Him being the virgin born man, since God alone can provide salvation (Isaiah 43:10-11).  Therefore in one verse, Isaiah gives us the entire sweep of the Bible's teaching on the identity of the one who was to be born in Bethlehem.  He as One person was fully God and fully man.  He who has always been would become born, having a beginning.  Without this event, salvation and the truth of God's word would had been jeopardized.