The Birthroll of the Son of God
January 26th, 1964 @ 7:30 PM
THE BIRTH ROLL OF THE SON OF GOD
Dr. W.A. Criswell
1-26-64 7:30 p.m.
On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the evening message entitled The Birth Roll of the Son of God. Each evening we are bringing a sermon on the life of our Lord, the life of Christ, and this is the second in the series. Last Sunday night the title of the sermon was The Beginning of the Gospel of the Son of God, and the sermon tonight, the Birth Roll of our Lord Jesus.
Now turn in your Bible to the first chapter of the First Gospel, the first chapter of Matthew. The text is the first verse, “The book, the genesis, the birth roll of Jesus Christ” [Matthew 1:1]. Then we shall begin reading at the eighteenth verse of the first chapter of Matthew, and listening on the radio, and the vast audience here tonight, all of us read it out loud together, beginning at verse 18 in chapter 1:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as His mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.
Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.
And while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.
And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.
Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying,
Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:
And knew her not till she had brought forth her first-born Son: and he called His name Jesus.
This is the beginning of the historical character Jesus Christ. This is the beginning of the story of the days of His flesh. But there is something more to the historical character of Jesus than just a brief recounting of His life that we find in the Holy Scriptures.
Shirley Jackson Case was an illustrious scholar who belonged to the Chicago Divinity School in Chicago University. And some years ago he wrote a book entitled The Historical Jesus. And after he had gone through page after page after page of long and laborious argument, he finally came to the grand conclusion that there might have lived sometime, somewhere a character by the name of Jesus, limiting His life, if there was such a life to Him, to the days of His sojourn in this earth.
But for us to look upon Christ as being encompassed in the narrow years of His ministry in this world is unspeakable and unthinkable, for the life of our Lord transcends all time and all eternity. He is the contemporary of all ages and of all life. He is living today—more alive today than in any other time in history, even that in the days of His flesh. From the gracious hands of our Lord all goodness flows. All beauty receives its tenderest hue from His gracious countenance. Strength itself is nothing but the throb of His almightiness.
Don’t go to the tomb to find Jesus. There you will but hear the answer of an angel, “He is not here: He is raised from the dead!” [Matthew 28:6]. And that is a continuing answer to all men everywhere who seek our Lord. It is not the miracle of a five second measurement of time, or even of the twinkling of an eye, but it is an eternal miracle, our living and risen and reigning Lord; Jesus, the contemporary of every man who lives today.
He was the Lord of all of the ages past:
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 any thing made that was made.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.)
[John 1:1-3, 14]
Jesus, the Lord of all the ages past: He was the great Creator in Genesis 1:1. He was the Angel that wrestled Jacob, Israel, the “Prince of God” at Peniel in Genesis 32 [Genesis 32:24-32]. He was the Lord, the great I AM who appeared unto Moses in Exodus 3 [Exodus 3:14]. He was the shekinah Glory that guided Israel through the wilderness in Exodus 13 [Exodus 3:21-22, 40:36-38]. He was the Prince from glory, the Captain of the host that fought for Israel in Joshua 5 [Joshua 5:12-15]. He was the Lord high and lifted up in Isaiah 6 [Isaiah 6:1]. He was that fourth whose countenance was like the Son of God walking with the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace [Daniel 3:24-25]. The Lord of ages past [Ephesians 3:21], the Seed of the woman [Genesis 3:15], the Star of Jacob [Numbers 24:17], the Shiloh of Judah [Revelation 49:10], the greater Son of David [2 Samuel 7:12-13, 16], the Bright and Morning Star [Revelation 22:16], the Root and Offspring of the heritage and hope of Israel [Revelation 22:16]; Jesus, the Lord of the ages past.
And He is the King of our every hope and of our every tomorrow. The zeal of the apostles and their unmeasured devotion and enthusiasm unto death was found in their conviction that someday He will come again! Paul said, “For our citizenship is in heaven; from whence we look for the Savior” [Philippians 3:20]. The Revelation began with its announced text, “Behold, lo, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him” [Revelation 1:7]. This is the Christ, the Son of God, born of a woman [Galatians 4:4], living among men [John 1:14], the historical Jesus.
“The book of,” the birth roll, of the genesis, “of the generation of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” [Matthew 1:1]. Ah, so long, so long between the last verse of the Old Covenant and this first verse of the New Covenant, four hundred weary years. Hard for us to realize how long that is—the United States is not but about a hundred eighty seven years of age. Four hundred years before He came, after the last prophet had promised His swift attendance upon the temple worship of the Lord [Malachi 3:1], four hundred years. And since His going away into heaven [Acts 1:9-10], it has now been two millenniums.
Why the delay of our Lord? The answer is plain and simple; because God is doing a marvelous, incomparable, redemptive work in the earth. When He created the first world and the first universe, He did it by fiat [Genesis 1:3-19]. He spoke and the fiat was omnific. And there He flung out into space the sun, and the moon, and the stars [Genesis 1:14-19], and created our earth and all that’s in it by the word of His mouth [Genesis 1:9-13]. He said it and it was done! [Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14].
But to redeem the world, to regenerate the world, has taken the years and the millenniums of the longsuffering love and forbearance of God [Romans 5:6; Galatians 4:4]. For the first creation had to do with materiality, but the second creation has to do with manhood and mankind. Ah, how different, how differently, how differently the method, how perilous the prospects, how anxiously awaiting the response. For when God created matter, He could do it with a word, with a sentence [Genesis 1:3, 6, 9, 14]. But to redeem the man [1 Peter 1:18-19], is the story of persuasion, and hope, and love, and tears, and anxious waiting [Ephesians 1:7].
You can order a Coke for your child, but you can’t order a character. You can mandate, you can command a dress for the little girl; you can’t command the reception of an education. You can by a work decorate the house; you can’t by a work decorate the soul and the heart of your child. It’s a matter of prayer, and longsuffering, and anxiety, and persuasion, and guidance, and appeal. And some of the things that resolved in the redemptive purposes of God are inexplicable in one verse here, in one verse here, in the birth roll of our Lord.
Hezekiah, good king Hezekiah, called the best king Israel ever had, Hezekiah begat Manasseh [Matthew 1:10], and it was because of the vile villainy, the wickedness and iniquity of Manasseh, that God destroyed Judah [2 Kings 21:11-14]. Hezekiah begat Manasseh, and in the same verse, Amon begat Josiah [Matthew 1:10]. Amon was a vile and a wicked king [2 Kings 21:19-26; 2 Chronicles 33:20-25]. Josiah was a holy man of God who walked until his destruction in battle [2 Chronicles 35:20-25], who walked every day of his life before the Lord [2 Kings 22:1-2; 23:25]. Why those things? You tell me why. Because I don’t understand; when I get to heaven that’s one of the things I’m going to ask God.
Some of the most devout, and holy, and sanctified, and committed of all of the families I have known in the earth have children, have children that reflect no part of the sanctity and holiness of a godly deacon or a godly missionary. I don’t understand. And the obverse is true. Out of some of the most depraved and wretched of all of the families I’ve seen in the earth will arise a star of a preacher, the flaming evangelist, God’s great servant. I don’t know. I don’t understand. I can just see what God does in the earth with what we do and what we reflect in our lives. It is a matter of redemption. It is a matter of love, of prayer, of waiting, of longsuffering, of hoping, of asking, of interceding [Psalm 27:14; Isaiah 40:31]. But that is the pristine mark and the incomparable exclamation of God’s love and purpose for us.
Time has moral value. The longsuffering patience of a parent or of God has great moral value. It signifies our worth. What God can do in a sentence, He did. What God seemingly cannot do or will not do is to destroy and to hurt what maybe time, and prayer, and longsuffering could achieve. Time, I say, has moral value. It has worth.
A painter, a painter who was born to die the day that he was living and painting, a painter said to a great master, “I don’t understand, why do you spend so much time on your paintings?” And the grand old master said, “But I paint for eternity, forever. I shall see it yet unborn and I paint for immortality.”
When you go to the Louvre in Paris or when you go to those great antiques, those vast architectural structures that still remain in the Greco world, you look at the artist who sculptured those pieces placed up there in a pediment, a hundred feet above the earth where no man, no man born was ever supposed to look at the back to see how the man sculptured the back of the hair and the back of the robe, and without exception, without exception, every one of those figures is gloriously carved in the back, pressed against a marble pediment up in the air. They were sculpturing for God, for eternity, for the eyes of a God that would look upon it; time, genius, patience.
Somebody came in after watching Michelangelo with one of those sculptured figures and said to him, “Michelangelo, I was here a month ago. I was here a month ago and you been working on that face for a solid month, and it looks exactly, exactly as it did a month ago. What are you doing? Why are you wasting time like that?”
“Oh,” said the great sculptor, “Nay, nay but I am rounding this cheek, and I’m dilating that nostril, and I’m bringing out the undercut of that eye.”
“Oh,” said the friend, “those are just trifles.”
“Nay,” said Michelangelo and this is a proverb, the great sculptor’s, “Nay,” said, “these trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.” Time has a moral value.
In the building of a house we say sometimes, “We’ve got mushrooms!” They fall apart the day they’re put together, but a great temple takes years to erect unto God. And the Lord is building the temple of His congregation, the house of His faithful, the body of Christ in the new world and in the new generation. The old world, the first creation that He built, God looked upon it and said, “It is good. It is good.” And He did it by fiat, by word, by sentence. “And it is good” [Genesis 1:4, 12, 18, 20, 25, 31]. And you and I looking upon the created workmanship of God, we say, “it is good.”
Who could add a tint to the blue of the sky, or who could add to the beauty of His emerald that covers the earth after the refreshing rain? Who could add to the sphere and the rounding of the orb of the sun that He made? Who could add to the effulgence and iridescence and glory of a ray of its light? Why man, who could even add to the blade of grass that He created, or to the feather in the wing of a bird, or to the leaf that falls in autumn from the tree? We say, “It is good.”
But oh, my soul, my soul, in the new creation, in the New Jerusalem [Revelation 21:2, 9-10], in the new world that God is redeeming, the Lord shall look upon it and say, “It is a church without spot or blemish or any such thing” [Ephesians 5:27]. And God shall look upon us, the redeemed of His soul, and shall say, “It is good. It is good. It is good”; time, time and delay as God redeems the world that He made [2 Corinthians 5:19].
Now hastily and briefly, we may have a part in that incomparable redemptive work of our Lord. “Why, pastor, I, I? Less than nothing, unknown almost and without gift, I could have a part in the great redemptive work of our Lord in this new recreation, this new regeneration? I?” Oh, oh, this is redemptive purposes of God for us!
He knows all the insects that fly in the air. He sees all of the ephemera that dance in a sunbeam. Not a sparrow falls to the ground but under the watchful, loving eye of our heavenly Father, and He watches over us [Matthew 10:29-31]. And there is a place for us in the redemptive purposes of God. We may not be able to see, we may not be able to describe, we may not be able to understand, but there is a place for us in the redemptive purposes of God.
I debated in my mind whether to talk about these women for example, these women in the birth roll of Jesus. I decided not to do it. You look at those women, these women, these grandparents in the birth roll of Jesus. Rahab, Rahab, Bathsheba, you look at those women [Matthew 1:5-6]. Why, you would say the genealogy of our Lord is made up of the offscouring of the earth. It’s full of harlots and sinners! You just don’t know the infinitude of the redemptive love and purposes of God in Christ Jesus. And however worthless and maybe sinful, and ungifted as we are, you don’t know, not until the record is completed in glory and the book is opened, you don’t know the infinite meaning of your life in the plan and purpose of Jesus.
There’s not a schoolboy that has been introduced to the sadness of the life that belonged to Abraham Lincoln. Have you ever been to Hodgenville, Kentucky? The little boy was born in a little Baptist family to a man named Tom and a devout Christian wife and mother named Nancy Hanks. And Tom and Nancy Hanks Lincoln lived at the edge of a bitter and unfriendly frontier. When the boy was a lad, just a lad under the love and tutelage of Nancy Hanks Lincoln, he was introduced to God, and the great moral values, and the tremendous spiritual significant realities from the Book of God, the Bible, and the person of Jesus Christ. She taught the little lad carefully and faithfully.
And upon a day, Nancy Hanks, at the edge of the frontier of America in the wilderness, his mother grew sick and died. And the little boy helped his father build, make, frame a pine coffin out of rough, unsmoothed lumber, place in the box his dear mother. And he and his father buried it in the dust of the ground.
Have you been to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington? Stand in that magnificent structure and read the great inscription at the back over the statue: “Here in this temple, as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the Union, is inscribed forever the memory of Abraham Lincoln.” And as I stood and saw that vast inscription and that vast memorial, my mind went back to the inscription above the little log cabin at Hodgenville, Kentucky, quoting Abraham Lincoln, “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
Who would have known it? Who would have thought it? Who would have guessed it? Under the hands of that untaught, untutored, pioneer, frontier mother teaching the little boy Abe, the truth of the revelation of God in Christ Jesus and dying when the lad was so small. You don’t know. You don’t realize the purposes of God for our lives, however humble, however unknown.
“These are My mothers, and My sisters, and My brothers,” said the Lord. “For whosoever doeth the will of God, the same is My mother, and My brother, and My sister” [Matthew 12:50]. We belong to the birth roll, the genealogy of Jesus our Lord. We can be a stone in the temple [1 Peter 2:5], of which He is the great cornerstone [1 Peter 2:4-6]. We can be a star to shine in the celestial heavens, the chalice of which He is the inextinguishable and eternal light [John 8:12]. O Lord, that God should mediate even to me the grace and the goodness of God [1 Timothy 2:5; Titus 2:11].
And while we sing our invitation hymn, you, somebody you, in faithful, humble trust give your life to Jesus [Ephesians 2:8], and come and stand by me. A family you to place your life in the fellowship of this precious congregation, “Pastor, this is my wife and these are our children. All of us are coming tonight.” Make it now. Make it now. As the Spirit of Jesus shall say the word, shall lead in the way, come. Come, while we stand and while we sing.
BIRTHROLL OF THE SON OF GOD
I. The historical character Jesus Christ
A. He is the
contemporary of all ages
1. He is more
alive today than any other time in history (Matthew 28:6)
living Lord of ages past (John 1:1-3, 14,
Genesis 1:1, 32, Exodus 3, 13, Joshua 5, Isaiah 6, Daniel 3:24-25)
central figure of the ages to come (Philippians
3:20, Revelation 1:7)
II. Why the delay in His coming?
A. God is doing
marvelous redemptive work on earth
first world made by fiat
redeem, regenerate the world has taken millennia of the forbearance of God
a. First creation had
to do with materiality
b. Second creation has
to do with manhood, mankind
C. Time has moral value
III. There is a place for us in the
redemptive purposes of God
don’t realize the purposes of God for our lives, however humble, unknown
Life story of Abraham Lincoln (Matthew 12:50)