Thursday, December 23, 2010

God the Father Was PLEASED to Send His Son to Earth for Us!

God the Father Was PLEASED to Send His Son to Earth for Us!
By Rev. Greg Schermerhorn 12/23/10

God the Father sent Jesus to Earth to provide the means of salvation and to restore fellowship with Him now and for all eternity.  But have you ever pondered that it actually pleased the Father to send His Son to Earth to be our Savior?  There are several Scripture passages that point to this truth.  As we prepare to celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ, it is a perfect time to look at why God the Father was pleased to send His only Son to Earth for you and me.

Let’s start here with a couplet of verses that are very familiar to many people. 
John 3:16–17 (AMP)
16 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.

God the Father GREATLY loved and DEARLY PRIZED the world…that’s ALL of humanity, His creation!  Before there was time, God knew man would fall into sin and would be separated from fellowship with Him.  The Father knew, before He created mankind, that we would sin and He would have to send Jesus to be the perfect, atoning, final sacrifice for our sin in order to restore the fellowship of a personal individual relationship between God and man.  To give His people hope, God revealed His plan for salvation to His chosen people, the Israelites, through the prophet Isaiah.  Isaiah wrote the prophesy of Jesus’ birth 700 years before it happened.
Isaiah 7:14 (AMP)
14 Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].

Isaiah 9:6–7 (NKJV)
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

The Father announced the pending birth of Jesus to the participants, Mary and Joseph by angelic visit.  Both responded in perfect obedience.  Let’s first look at Mary.  She was chosen by God the Father to be the mother of His Son, Jesus.  Scripture says she was a virgin when she conceived Jesus and remained virginal without consummating her marriage to Joseph until after Jesus was born.  The miraculous, immaculate conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit and Mary made Him fully God and fully man, but without man’s sinful nature.  Mary accepted the charge of God to be His Son’s mother, as well as, the challenge of pregnancy during betrothal to Joseph, a serious offense under the law that could lead to her death by stoning.
Luke 1:26–35 (NAS)
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
30 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 name Him Jesus.
32 “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;
33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 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.

Now seems like a good time to discuss Jewish marriage customs because they are very different than the customs of today.  In the time of Mary and Joseph, marriages were typically arranged by the parents of the bride and groom years in advance of the marriage.  When a couple became engaged or betrothed, the betrothal lasted a period of approximately one year and the bride and groom each lived with their respective families.  The period of the betrothal was used to establish the purity of the bride.  The betrothal was considered to be as part of the marriage under the law, and was severable only by divorce or death.  A betrothed woman widowed before her marriage was consummated would be considered to be a “widowed virgin”.  That should serve to shed some light on the seriousness with which engagement or betrothal was viewed in Jewish society at the time Jesus was born.  Both Mary and Joseph were primarily concerned with being obedient to God.  Society would have to deal with itself.

Joseph found out that Mary, a woman that he truly loved was pregnant, and NOT by him.  Imagine his surprise and utter disappointment and discouragement.  Scripture says He was a righteous man and that is high praise.  Since he loved Mary, he wanted to divorce her quietly and not accuse her of adultery in the city gate in front of the town judges.  That would have only resulted in her death.  God sent an angel to tell Joseph why Mary was pregnant and that He should take her as his wife.  The angel told Joseph that the child was God’s Son and that he was to be named Jesus.  Joseph did all that the Lord commanded.  He immediately took Mary as his wife, breaking the social mores of Jewish custom relating to betrothal and marriage.  No doubt many people who knew Joseph and Mary believed they had engaged in premarital sexual relations resulting in Mary’s pregnancy.  But, as the Bible says, Joseph kept Mary a virgin until Jesus was born.
Matthew 1:18–25 (NAS)
18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit.
19 And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly.
20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.
21 “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,
25 but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.

The Father announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds in the fields using a multitude of angels, residents of the heavenly realm where God dwells.  This birth announcement didn’t occur to kings, princes, or noblemen.  It was made to shepherds, the lowest members of this caste society.  They were treated to a most royal proclamation prepared by God to declare the good news of great joy that a Savior for the world had been born in Bethlehem.  These shepherds were privileged to see angels praising and glorifying God for his love, mercy and grace extended to us!
Luke 2:8–14 (NAS)
8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened.
10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people;
11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.”

The Father announced Jesus’ birth by a celestial event of significant magnitude.  This star caught the attention of magi or learned men of the East.  We don’t know the exact details of who they were or where exactly they came from.  Scripture does not record that information for us.  What we do know is that they were wise men who held power and position in their country.  They studied the sky and recognized this celestial event had major significance.  They traveled to Palestine, following the lead of a divinely created star.  They brought kingly gifts for our newborn savior.  All this is evidence that they knew it was a significant event.  Did they fully understand Jesus was God the Father’s Son and our Savior?  It is not clear, but they traveled a great distance to find and worship Jesus.  They were also obedient to God when He directed them to go home without reporting back to King Herod.
Psalm 19:1 (AMP)
THE HEAVENS declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows and proclaims His handiwork.

Matthew 2:1–12 (NAS)
1 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying,
2 “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
3 When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
4 Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born.
5 They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:
6 ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; For out of you shall come forth a Ruler Who will shepherd My people Israel.’ ”
7 Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared.
8 And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.”
9 After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was.
10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.
11 After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
12 And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way.

The Father announced His pleasure in Jesus at His baptism.  This is the start of Jesus’ public ministry.  God the Father affirmed His good pleasure with His Son.
Matthew 3:16–17 (NAS)
16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,
17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

The Father was pleased with Jesus’ work on Earth.  Jesus lived His life glorifying His Father.  He fulfilled all Scripture in His life, in His death, and in His resurrection from the dead.  The Resurrection of Jesus proved the Father was pleased with Jesus’ earthly ministry. 
Matthew 28:6 (NAS)
6 “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.  Come, see the place where He was lying.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas, let us remember the baby in the manger is the Savior of the world.  The one who loved us so much that He laid aside all of His prerogatives as God to become human, to live among us, experience all of the things in life we experience without sinning, and was put to death unjustly for our unrighteousness.  He did all of this for you and me.  He came as a child so that you could relate to Him and understand Him in a human context.  Jesus is not an impersonal God; He wants you to have a personal relationship with Him not just now, but for all eternity.  Christmas can be a time of renewal…new birth for your soul.  How?  If you don’t know Jesus, first, repent of your sins to God and ask Him to forgive you.  There is no sin you have committed which you can’t be forgiven for committing.  Second, believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God.  Many people believe in their head about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, etc., but they never make that 18 inch decision where they transfer that head knowledge into a heart-felt honest, life changing decision before God.  Scripture says that even the demons know about Jesus, but they are going to Hell.  Head knowledge just doesn’t change your life.  Conviction…life changing, heart-felt, real decisions before God do change your life.  Third, ask Jesus to come into your life as your Savior and your Lord.  Accept the atoning sacrifice of His death on the cross for your sins.  Accept His resurrection as final victory over sin and eternal death in this world.  It is that simple. 
Romans 10:9–10 (NAS)
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
10 for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

Give yourself the best gift you could ever give…give Jesus!  Share Him with your friends and family this Christmas!