The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)
I have to tell you the truth; you’ve never seen a holy child. All we have ever seen are unholy children. Never before and never since has a mother held in her arms a holy child. So what must this unique child have been like?
We can guess by contrast. Jesus was unlike any child we’ve ever known. He never thought a wrong thought or had a bad attitude. He never said an unkind word or committed any act of disrespect. He was never disobedient or selfish. He always did what He was told.
All other human children are not like that. They come into the world so lovely, but depravity is wrapped up inside of them. In their innermost hearts, children are fretful, quarrelsome, rude, sulky, impudent, proud, angry, stubborn and disrespectful. They are far from holy.
Every child needs discipline, forgiveness, restoration and salvation. But not this child. He was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
All natural-born human offspring have been unholy, from Cain and Abel onward. But in the conception of Jesus, the Holy Spirit took the substance of Mary and strained out the sin, creating a holy child. He was holy in body and in spirit. And so at Christmas we sing, “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray.”
This child is fully God, fully man and fully holy. He is also, as Gabriel announces to Mary, sovereign:
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end. (Luke 1:32-33)
Jesus was born to rule over an eternal kingdom. If you look at the genealogy in Matthew 1, you see that His father Joseph descended from David. And if you look at the genealogy in Luke 3, which most likely charts Mary’s ancestry, it also goes back to David. If Israel had a king of its own in those days, Jesus would have been in line for the throne.
The magi from the east recognized this. They came to find the young Christ, led by God through a remarkable phenomenon in the sky, in order to honor Him as king. They knew He would be given a kingdom not only over Israel, but over the whole world, in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.
Jesus came as the Messiah, the One who will be given the throne of His father David. The title “Messiah” (in Greek, “Christ”) means “anointed one,” and it serves to highlight His kingly status.
He had the right to rule. He had royal blood. In the appropriate time He will be the king of a renewed universe. Someday He will take His authority in the world and establish an eternal kingdom.
This child was born in humble surroundings to a humble, nondescript young couple. But He was born to be the greatest king the world will ever know:
Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37)
They treated Him as a criminal, but He was a king. And so the carols testify:
Joy to the world, the Lord is come. Let earth receive her king.
Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord, the newborn king.
Born a king in Bethlehem’s plain. Gold I bring to crown Him again. King forever, ceasing never, over the world to reign.
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn king.
The king of kings salvation brings. Let loving hearts enthrone Him.
This is no ordinary child. This child is God, man, holy and sovereign. And most importantly for us, this child is also a savior. That will be the topic of the next post.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1998, titled “The Greatest Child Ever Born.”
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