The Child of Mary and the Son of God
December 22nd, 1963 @ 8:15 AM
THE CHILD OF MARY AND THE SON OF GOD
Dr. W.A. Criswell
12-22-63 8:15 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. Now the sermon this morning is entitled The Wonder Child or The Child of Mary and the Son of God, and in my preparation for it, I have not prepared a sermon that blessed my own soul more than to prepare the sermon at this hour. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, the ninth chapter of the Book of Isaiah, it begins with a quotation that is so beautifully presented in the Gospel of Matthew [Matthew 4:15-16]:
Land of Zebulun, and land of Naphtali… by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations;
The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.
now skipping to verse 6—
For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.
Now the text: “For unto a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6]. You would think, most of us would think, that the prophet there in his poetic presentation of this incomparable revelation, you would suppose that he is just speaking poetry and is making a couplet out of the glorious message he is bringing: “For unto us a Child is born”; then he says the same thing, you would think, with different words: “Unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6]. Of course it is beautiful poetry and it is marvelous prophecy, but the two things refer to two different great truths concerning our Lord. “For unto us a Child is born,” that is a prophecy of His humanity [Philippians 2:7]; “and unto us a Son is given,” that is a prophecy of His deity [Philippians 2:6].
He begins with His humanity and rises in his prophetic discourse to the deity of the Son of God, for Christ was a Son before He was born, the eternal Son of God. “Unto us a Child is born” [Isaiah 9:6]: this is the Child of Mary, born in a stable in Bethlehem [Luke 2:1-16]. “And unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6]: this is the pre-existent Son of God, who lived co-equal, co-existent with the Father in eternity before the worlds were made [John 1:1-3].
The prophet begins with the humanity of our Lord: “Unto us a Child is born” [Isaiah 9:6]. And throughout his prophecy, he speaks again and again like a great musical composition returning to a theme, he speaks again and again of the humanity of our Lord, “Unto us a Child is born.” The prophet conducts us to Bethlehem, and to the stable, and to the manger, and to the lowliness and the poverty of the Lord Jesus [Luke 28:17]. This is the greatest birthday in the history of the world! Yet, in no palace and in no court did a trumpet sound announcing the birth of this newborn King. But the birthday of the Son of God is of more infinitely significant than all the birthdays of all the Caesars who ever reigned!
The prophet conducts us first to Bethlehem, to the stable, and to the manger [Luke 2:15-16], and in his great prophecy [Luke 1:26-35], the Child is born, the humanity of Jesus [Luke 2:5-16]. He conducts us to the workshop and His daily toil; for He was called “the carpenter” [Mark 6:3]. The prophet conducts us to the desert, and to the hunger of the Man Christ Jesus, assailed and tried by the tempter [Matthew 4:1-11]. The prophet conducts us in His humanity to the well where He drank, being thirsty [John 4:4-7]. The prophet conducts us to the midnight storm as He healed the turbulence of the waves of Galilee [Matthew 8:23-27]. The prophet conducts us to Gethsemane, its agony and its bloody sweat [Luke 22:44]. And the prophet conducts us to the cross and the ignominious shame of His crucifixion and death [Matthew 27:32-50]. And the prophet conducts us to His glorious resurrection [Matthew 28:1-9], our humanity raised from the dust of the ground. In his prophecy, “Unto us a Child is born” [Isaiah 9:6], and in the verses and chapters that accompany it and follow it, there is the story of our Lord from the manger to the cross [Isaiah 9:6-7, 42:1-9, 49:1-13, 50:4-11, 52:13-53:12]. This is the humanity of the Savior of the world, “Unto us a Child is born.”
But oh, the infinite significance of the second part of his incomparable prophecy, “Unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6]. This is a delineation of the incomparable, insuperable revelation that the Child of Mary is none other than the co-eternal, co-existent, omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God Himself in human form. For Jesus never began to exist when He was born as a child in Bethlehem [Matthew 1:23-2:1]; this is the incarnation of God Himself [John 8:58; Hebrews 10:5-7].
The coming down from heaven of the Prince of Glory is what God hath done [Hebrews 10:5-14]. The most amazing, unbelieving, spectacular of all of the miraculous works of God in the earth, in human story, in the Bible, is the incarnation, that God should assume the form of a child and grow up to be like a man [Matthew 1:18-2:1; Philippians 2:6-8]. He came from the Father; He returned to the Father [John 16:28]. And between those two great heavenly mountain peaks is the valley of the days of His flesh and the story of His life in between. And sometimes we have a tendency so to dwell in the valley of His life that we forget the great mountain peaks that surrounded on either side.
The apostles were not like that. They looked up unto the hills from which came their strength [Psalm 121:1-2], and they speak of the pre-existent Lord, and the eternal reigning Lord, and the life of His flesh, that brief valley in between. Listen to this. There is never, never, ever, ever any instance in the Holy Scriptures when the apostles spoke of the life of Jesus beginning at Bethlehem; never, never. Listen to it. John, for example, beginning his story of the gospel of the Son of God says, “In the beginning”—and when was the beginning?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made. And the Word—
the eternal Word, the eternal God—
and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten Son of God).”
[John 1:1-3, 14]
That is the way the apostles present the life of Christ. It is the life of God incarnate, “Unto us a Son, the eternal Son, is given” [Isaiah 9:6]. The apostle Paul will write of the eternal pre-existent Christ in these words:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
For by Him were all things created in heaven, in earth, visible, invisible, the whole host of glory.
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist, hold together.
The author of the Book of Hebrews speaks of that eternal Son like this:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in times past to us by the prophets,
Hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son—
by His Son; listen to how he describes Him—
Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, upholding all things by the word of His power.
The Son given is the eternal Prince of glory who came down from heaven incarnate, in the flesh of a child, growing up unto our manhood, and the Lord Himself never deviates from that presentation of Himself. The Lord never said, “I am born in Bethlehem. I was born in Bethlehem.” He never uses those words, but the Lord will speak of Himself like this: “I came” [John 6:38], or “I was sent” [Matthew 15:24]. The Lord will say, “Verily, verily, Before Abraham was, I AM” [John 8:58]. Or in the high priestly prayer, “Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” [John 17:5]. There is never any deviation from that. Never, ever at any time is there a hint on the part of an apostle or of the Lord Himself that His life began at Bethlehem, never. But always there is the presentation of the pre-existent Christ who came down and clothed Himself in flesh, born as a babe; “Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6].
Now may I speak—and it must be briefly—now may I speak of the eternal blessings that accrue to us in the revelation of the preexistent Son of God? The first one, the first one: we learn, from this preexistent Son of God [John 8:58] who became incarnate [John 1:14], we learn first of all that at the heart of this universe and at the heart of creation and at the heart of human story and history is the love of God [John 3:16].
Now you follow me. You turn to nature and ask, “Is God love?” Ask nature, “Is God love?” And then listen to nature as nature replies. There is the earthquake that destroys, and the lightning that flashes, and the thunder that roars, and there are the waves and the storms of the sea, and fire that burns. Is God love? Ask nature. There is a fierceness in the tornado; there is a strength of unsympathy in the hurricane; there is the wildness of the waves that answers terribly. Is God love? Ask nature.
Ask human history, “Is God love?” and there is written on the pages of history the blood and the carnage of one war after another, the story of the inhumanity of man to man. Ask life itself, “Is God love?” There is the age, and senility, and the illness, and the agony, and the suffering, and finally the death and burial of this life. Ask even the record of the experience of Jesus in this world, “Is God love?” and watch the life of our Lord as they spit upon Him and pluck out His beard; finally, as they crown Him with thorns, and beat Him, and scourge Him, and nail Him to a tree, and He dies! [Matthew 27:26-50, Isaiah 50:6]. Where would you get the persuasion that God is love? Where would you?
There is only one place in this earth; there is only one place in this creation, and that is, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son” [John 3:16]. “God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were in sin and lost and in death, the Son of God died for us” [Romans 5:8]. There is no other answer to be found in the earth below or in heaven above except in the coming of the Son of God to be our Savior, incarnate as a man [Matthew 1:21-23]. It reveals, I say, that at the heart of this universe is the love of God.
Before our transgression and before our fall and before our death, God made provision for us. The holy Child born of Mary is our Savior and Friend [Hebrews 10:5-14], touched with the feeling of our infirmity [Hebrews 4:14-16]. And the Child born in the manger [Luke 2:7-16], is the incarnate God Himself [John 1:14; Colossians 2:9]. And all of the hope, and all of the expectation of heaven, and all of the forgiveness of sin, and all that we have in the life that is yet to come, all of it is bound up in that blessed, precious revelation that this is the love of God in human form [John 3:16]. Our hope, our prospect, our promise is in Him [1 John 3:1-3].
This is a familiar poem, but, oh, how meaningful! Do you remember it? Nobody knows who wrote it. To me, it is one of the most beautiful poems ever written and one of the most preciously significant:
That night when in Judean skies
The mystic star dispensed its light,
A blind man moved in his sleep
And dreamed that he had sight.
That night when shepherds heard the song
Of hosts angelic choiring near,
A deaf man stirred in slumber’s spell
And dreamed that he could hear.
That night when in the cattle stall
Slept Child and mother cheek by jowl,
A cripple turned his twisted limbs
And dreamed that he was whole.
That night when o’er the newborn Babe
The tender Mary rose to lean,
A loathsome leper smiled in sleep
And dreamed that he was clean.
That night when to the mother’s breast
The little King was held secure,
A harlot slept a happy sleep
And dreamed that she was pure.
And that night when in the manger lay
The Son of God who came to save,
A man moved in the sleep of death
And dreamed there was no grave.
[“That Night,” author unknown]
“Unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6]. I say, first of all, it reveals that at the heart of this universe and at the heart of human tragedy and story is the love and sympathy and compassion of God.
Now my second avowal: “For unto us a Son is born” [Isaiah 9:6]; the pre-existent incarnate Christ [John 1:1-3, 14]. That revelation reveals to us the grace and the glory of our blessed Lord Jesus. What is the grace of our Lord? That He was poor? No, no. The grace and glory of our Lord Jesus is this, “Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich” [2 Corinthians 8:9].
What is the grace and glory of Jesus? That He was a servant? No. But that—and that is why I had you read the passage from the second chapter of Philippians—”Though He was in the form of God”—whatever God is, He was—”He thought it not a thing to be grasped”—to be held on, “to be equal with God”—”but He made Himself of no reputation”—He poured Himself out—”He emptied Himself and became obedient unto death, being found in fashion as a man” [Philippians 2:6-8]. This is the grace and glory of Jesus: that, being the Prince of Heaven, “He became in fashion as a servant” [Philippians 2:7]. And that is the beauty of His girding Himself with a towel and washing the disciples’ feet, because He was the King of heaven washing feet, washing feet [John 13:4-17]. This is the grace and the glory of the blessed Jesus, the Son of God incarnate [Matthew 1:21-23].
Then I have a last, and these are so briefly stated—then I have a third: this doctrine, this teaching, this revelation of the incarnation of the pre-existent Son of God, last of all, it reveals to us the infinite preciousness and worth of the human soul and this planet on which we live. If Jesus’ life began at Bethlehem, then He is just another hero who lived in a narrow lot like all the other great heroes of the earth. And this world of ours is just an atom on the outskirts of creation, and our lives are insignificant in meaningless nothingness. How do you answer the argument? What do you say to the argument that this world is a speck in God’s vast creation and that our lives are like autumnal leaves? Our lives: nothing but a mist; nothing but a vapor; nothing but a moth of the night; die in the morning and is no more. What is an answer to the nothingness of our lives and to the insignificance, inconsequential atom that is this world in the vast creation around us? What kind of an answer do you give?
This: that God took upon Him not, not the form of angels, but He took upon Him the seed of Abraham [Hebrews 2:16]. He became a man. God came down to this earth, little as it is, inconsequential as it may be in the vast universes around us, God came down to this earth and lived in it, and walked on its soil, breathed its air, lived our lives, died our death [Matthew 27:32-50], rose [Matthew 28:5-7], to be not only our Creator, but our Savior [Romans 6:4; Philippians 2:6-11]; ah, the blessedness, the blessedness!
“For unto us a Child is born” [Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23-25]. That is Christmas. It sanctifies every home. It glorifies the birth of every little child. It brings a radiance to the eyes of motherhood beyond what all of poetry and song could ever bestow. “Unto us a Child is born” [Isaiah 9:6]. That is Christmas. The cry of the little Baby lying in a manger has caught the poetic fancy and song of the whole world [Luke 2:7-16].
“But unto us a Son is given” [Isaiah 9:6]. This is the revelation of the purposes redemptive of God for the human soul [John 3:16-17; 2 Peter 3:9]. Deep calls unto the deep, as the pre-existent Lord God becomes a man whose name is “Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6], the Child of Mary, His humanity [Luke 2:1-20]; the Son of God, our new re-Creator and redeeming Savior [Romans 1:1-4].
Well, God bless us as we worship Jesus our Lord and love Him more. And God give us greater capacity and love Him more every passing day. Now, Brother Lee Roy, we are going to sing a hymn of appeal. Maybe somebody, even this hour, give his heart to Jesus [Ephesians 2:8], put his life in the fellowship of the church; if somebody you here today trusts Jesus, give his life to the Lord, put his life with us in the circle of this great congregation; welcome, and come, while we stand and while we sing.