Under the influence of the Spirit of God, Isaiah the prophet spoke these words, Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14 ESV) For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6 ESV)
Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, the man to whom she was betrothed, was going to put her away quietly, however, before he did so an angel of the Lord came to him and changed Joseph’s mind. The angel said to Joseph, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21 ESV) The prophecy given by Isaiah hundreds of years before came true, God with us (Immanuel) was born in a town called Bethlehem in Judea (Luke 2:4-6).
Isaiah prophesied that this child would be called Mighty God and Everlasting Father. The implications were of infinite importance. These titles meant that the God who created the universe would become human flesh and dwell among man and man would see God’s glory in the Son, Jesus (John 1:1, 14). Many Jewish leaders later considered this child, now a man, to be speaking blasphemy as he equated himself with the Father. They would mock him, beat him and put him to a gruesome death.
Before Jesus was born the angel revealed to Joseph the reason for Jesus’ coming into the world, “he will save his people from their sins.” At Jesus’ birth an angel appeared to shepherds and pronounced that a Savior had been born who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11). Jesus, speaking of his own death, said, “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour.” (John 12:27 ESV) Jesus knew that to be the Savior of the world, to save his people from their sins, he would have to die. Dying was the purpose of his birth.
Why would the God who created the universe come to earth, take on human flesh in the form of the Son and allow his own creation to kill him for the purpose of saving sinful man? Did he see something worthy in man, some value that was worthy of such a sacrifice?
The apostle Paul wrote to the Roman believers that the mind set on the flesh (sinful desires) is hostile toward God and cannot obey his laws (Romans 8:7-8). To the Colossians Paul wrote that they were once hostile (hateful, odious, enemy, adversary) in mind toward God (Colossians 1:21-22). Man is, in fact, an enemy of God (Romans 5:10) and his hostility toward God makes him subject to the wrath of God. In fact, man is by nature a child of wrath (Ephesians 2:3) and the wrath of God remains on him until the day he believes in and obeys the Son of God (John 3:36).
But, surely God saw something worth saving, right? As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12 ESV) Not only was there nothing in man that was good, man was worthless (useless, spoiled, unprofitable, unmeritorious). God could not find one man that understood him or that was seeking for him. Now, every person has some intrinsic value and should be treated with dignity and respect because they are created in the likeness of God. However, merely being born with a likeness to God will only result in an eternal punishment in hell if one is not born again (John 3:3).
So, since man is totally depraved and not worth saving, what was the purpose of Christ’s death? For while we were still weak (strengthless, feeble, impotent), at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 ESV) Christ died to demonstrate God’s love. Could God have demonstrated his love in a better way than by giving his only unique Son to die for worthless people?
To say that Jesus died for worthy, deserving people is not only the epitome of arrogance on man’s part, it also cheapens God’s love and belittles Christ’s sacrifice. He came to die not because man had worth but to give man worth. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)
Upon Jesus’ arrival a multitude of heavenly host praised God and said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14 ESV) The child who was called the Prince of Peace came to make peace. And he did so by the blood of his cross (Colossians 1:19-20, Ephesians 2:13-14). All those who seek forgiveness for their sin, turn from their sinful ways and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, will have peace with God and receive the gift of salvation and eternal life. The great hope for the salvation of man rings loud in John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
A child was born to die. They called his name Jesus. By dying he demonstrated God’s love and made peace between God and all those who will believe on his name; Immanuel—God with us.