(This is a four-article series, Jesus at Christmas, in short 2-3 min. reads, about the person of Jesus and why we need Him at Christmas more than ever. We will use the Bible as the main source of truth, but call upon classic publications’ authors to assist in providing answers.)
In Josh McDowell’s Evidence That Demands A Verdict, he came up with an outline that provides a good starting point to answer these questions:
If God became man, then we would expect him to:
Have an unusual entrance into life.
Be without sin
Manifest the supernatural in the form of miracles.
Have an acute sense of difference from other men.
Speak the greatest words ever spoken.
Have a lasting and universal influence.
Satisfy the spiritual hunger in man.
Exercise power over death.
This “unusual entrance” was one that prophets spoke about centuries before his birth.
“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14
The Book of Isaiah was written in eighth century BC. Isaiah was the first of a group of individuals known as the major prophets. Their purpose was to reveal God’s plan to His people. And in doing so, they provided a glimpse of the future. But not merely events, but critical junctures that range from catastrophe to miracle.
But the one attribute that sets the prophets apart from all others in biblical history is that their words were never false. Here is another prophecy from centuries before the birth of Jesus:
“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth from Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, From the days of eternity.” – Micah 5:2
So why was Jesus’ birth significant?
Certainly, we could list hundreds of reasons. And we will share many more. But for the purpose of revealing an unusual entrance into the world (as Josh McDowell put it), His birth was predicted many centuries before it took place! And not just the birth, but many of the happenings, location, events, and circumstances from that moment in time (as forecasted by the prophets) came true! How many people do you know that had their own birth predicted generations before it happened?
In answer to the second question as to why Immaculate Conception was important: because the person being born was to represent a replacement for us.
The Old Testament gave us the Law of Moses between God and His people. What the Mosaic Law showed us is that we are dead in our sins and require a sacrifice to atone for our sins. Jesus came to be that sacrifice for us, that replacement. And the only way that he could be a true replacement was to be without sin; a Savior for all mankind.
“Do not think that I can to abolish the Law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but fulfill.” – Matthew 5:17
Since the Bible tells us that everyone born has sin, without exception, Jesus had to enter not through man’s will, but through God’s. The Immaculate Conception is that unusual entrance that was required for God to enter the world as man. And it was the first of many miracles that Jesus performed.
Among the many miracles that he demonstrated were:
Healing a leper (Matthew 8:2-4)
Healing a paralytic (Matthew 9:2-8)
Restoring a blind man’s vision (Mark 8: 22-25)
Water converted to Wine (John 2:1-11)
Multiplying Food (Fed the 5,000; Matthew 14:15-21)
And, of course, raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44)
But what are we to make of all these signs? Come back tomorrow where we discuss what we are to do with the baby that became king.
(Sources: Excerpts from Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Josh McDowell, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1972, 1979)