The crucifixion and death of Jesus was no horrible accident nor plans gone awry. Jesus was not the victim of circumstance. He was in full control of His life to the smallest detail. Consider God’s plan versus Satan’s plan.
God’s plan was for Jesus to die on a cross, shedding His blood on the appointed day, the 14th day of Nisan and the hour when Passover lambs were being slain. As the sacrificial Lamb of God, Jesus sacrificed His blood and then rose from the dead to save those who trust Him.
In fact, according to Revelation 13:8, that was God’s plan for His Son before He had ever created the world and before man had sinned and before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Satan’s primary plan was first of all to keep Jesus from ever being born. When that failed, His secondary plan was to keep Jesus from ever going to the cross and dying for our sins. Satan knew that if Jesus died, shedding His blood for our sins and if He ever rose again from the dead, he would be defeated and bound for eternity in Hell fire. God had told him in Genesis 3:14-15 that His head would be crushed. Thank God, that promise is as good as fulfilled. God said it! It will be accomplished!
So the Old Testament story is a story of Satan trying his best to destroy the line of Judah which would ultimately produce the Saviour of the world. Throughout the Old Testament we see God protecting the royal line of Christ so that the Saviour could be born.
The Royal Line of Christ
Follow with me as we trace through the Old Testament Satan’s vain attempts to destroy the royal line of Christ.
After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, they died spiritually and eventually died physically. In the Garden of Eden God confronted them, saved them with a blood sacrifice of an animal and pointed them to the Saviour who would one day come into this world as the final, perfect sacrifice for sin. God also outlined the course of history and the final destruction of Satan in Genesis 3:15, the key verse of the Bible.
Now banished from the Garden of Eden, the first two sons of Adam and Eve were Cain and Abel. Cain murdered his brother Abel over God’s acceptance of Abel’s blood sacrifice and God’s rejection of his own sacrifice of his works, Adam and Eve had a third son, Seth. Though they had many more sons and daughters, God chose Seth through whom the promised Seed (Saviour) would come.
From Seth’s line eventually came Noah. You remember the story of Noah and the Flood. When God destroyed the entire human race because of sin, He spared Noah and his family, through whom the promised Saviour would come.
From Noah’s three sons and their wives, God chose Shem to continue the promised royal line of Christ. As we follow Shem’s line through Genesis 10-12 we learn that God chose Abraham’s seed to produce the promised Saviour. That promise is the heart of God’s Covenant with Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 12.
Abraham had two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. God chose Isaac to carry on that line, as recorded in Genesis 17 and 21.
Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau, the oldest son, should have inherited the blessing, but he despised it and eventually Jacob through trickery, but also through God’s sovereignty, inherited the blessing. That very interesting story is recorded in Genesis 25 through 28.
Genesis 32 records the story of Jacob who wrestled with a human manifestation of Christ and through persistence won. God changed his name from Jacob, which means trickery, to Israel, which means prince with God.
Jacob had twelve sons. One of those sons was Judah, through whom God promised the royal line of Christ would continue. See Genesis 49:8-10. So now as we continue our study of the Old Testament, we can rule out all other families and focus our attention on the line of Judah through whom the Saviour would come.
Genesis 38 tells us the sordid story of how Judah got involved with sexual sin with his daughter-in-law, Tamar. Because of God’s curse on such behavior, Deuteronomy 23:10 records that no one could reign in Judah’s royal line for ten generation. So don’t look for any king or Messiah for at least ten generations.
Though Boaz, the second husband of Ruth was from the line of Judah, he cannot reign. Go to Ruth 4:18-22 and note that from Judah to David was ten generations. So from Judah through Jesse, the father of David, we can look for no king.
The nation Israel jumped the gun. In their insistence to be like other nations and have a king, God allowed them to have Saul as their first King. He was not from the royal line of Judah, but from the line of Benjamin. His reign turned out to be a failure.
Finally, in God’s time, David the tenth generation from the line of Judah became the first king of God’s choice. As you read through I and II Samuel and I and II Kings, you learn of the royal line of David. I Samuel 7 records God’s covenant with David that through his line the promised Messiah would come.
David’s royal line continued through Solomon and on down to little Joash. His story is found in II Kings 11. There we learn David’s royal line continued down through King Jehoram of Judah. Jehoram did a foolish wicked thing by marrying Athaliah, daughter of Israel’s king Ahab and his wicked wife, Jezebel. Jehoram married Athaliah, who turned out to be perhaps more wicked than her mother Jezebel.
Jehoram and his wife Athaliah had a son Ahaziah who had a number of children. Then Ahaziah died and his mother, Athaliah, scrambled to try to usurp the throne. Actually, one of her grandsons was rightful heir to the throne. So Grandma Athaliah began murdering all her grandsons.
Ahaziah’s sister, Jehosheba courageously hid her little nephew, Joash, thus saving him from his grandmother’s rage. If little Joash had been murdered with his brothers, the royal line of Judah would have become extinct.
Because of courageous Aunt Jehosheba, little 7 year old Joash became king of Judah. So one of the major themes of the Old Testament was God’s protection of the line of Judah through whom the Messiah and Saviour of the world would one day appear. Satan vainly attempted to destroy it and God intervened, protecting that royal line.
The Importance of the Virgin Birth of Christ
The Genealogy of Mary
The Genealogy of Mary, the virgin mother of Jesus, is found in Luke 3. Heli, in Luke 3:23 is Mary’s father and the father-in-law of Joseph, the step-father of Jesus. His genealogical line can be traced back to Nathan, one of the sons of King David who was in the line of Judah. His line can be traced back through Abraham to Adam.
This shows that Jesus was a man in the same sense you and I are men and women; totally human though absolutely sinless, for God the Father caused Mary to supernaturally conceive the child, Jesus.
The Genealogy of Joseph.
In Matthew 1 we have the record of the genealogy of Joseph, the husband of Mary and the step-father of Jesus. He had no sexual relationship with Mary until after Jesus was born. To Mary and Joseph were born several sons and daughters who are mentioned in Matthew 13:53-56. That rules out the false teaching of the perpetual virginity of Mary, doesn’t it.
Joseph’s genealogy can be traced back to King Solomon, another son of King David, who succeeded his father as King of Israel before Israel and Judah divided under the reign of Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who remained King of Judah while Jeroboam became King of Israel.
The Curse of Coniah
As we read Matthew 1, we read the generations of Jesus starting with Abraham in verse1 and through King David in verse 6. But here the genealogies of Mary and Joseph divide. Whereas Mary’s line continues through Nathan, the son of David; Joseph’s line continues through Solomon, the son of David. In verse 11 we find King Jechonias, one of the last kings of Judah before the people of Judah were taken into Babylonian captivity in 597 BC.
A study of II Chronicles 3, 36, II Kings 24. brings us to the conclusion that Jechonias, the son of King Jehoiakim, is also known by two other names, Coniah and Jehoiachin. Perhaps in Babylon, the prefix JE, which refers to Jehovah, was removed from his name.
Whatever the reason for these multiple names of the same king, Jeremiah 22:24-30 records a curse on the line of Coniah. No one from his line can ever reign on the throne of David. Since Joseph, the step-father of Jesus, was in that line, Joseph and his biological sons are ruled out from ever reigning on the throne of David.
If Joseph had been the biological father of Jesus, Jesus would have been barred from ever reigning on the throne of David and the Davidic Covenant of II Samuel 7 would not have applied to Jesus.
Not only that, but if Joseph had been the biological father of Jesus, Jesus would have, as all of us, inherited a sinful nature from his father and thus could never have been our sinless Saviour.
The Virgin Birth is an essential doctrine of the Faith. To deny it is to deny the deity of Christ and His efficacy as our Saviour from sin.
As we continue with this series, Lord willing, we will continue to see how every detail of Christ’s trial and death on the cross was being fulfilled like clock-work in God’s plan of the Ages.
Long before Jesus was crucified, He had forewarned His disciples, but the warnings went right over their heads. In Luke 9:22 Jesus plainly declared to His disciples, “The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain and be raised the third day.”
In the same chapter, verses 44-45 Jesus said, “Let these sayings sink down into your ears; for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.” But they (His disciples) understood not this saying, and it was hidden from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.
Not only did they not understand, but they were so crass as to change the subject and reason among themselves as to who was the greatest. Amazing! But let’s not be too hard on them. We can be just as dull of hearing when we are faced with spiritual truth that it goes right over our heads and our hearts, while are minds are focused on mundane and selfish matters.
Furthermore the disciples feared to ask Jesus to explain Himself. They really didn’t want to hear such depressing news.
Why was this conversation recorded back then. It’s important for us to know that so that when His crucifixion actually occurred, we could be assured that Jesus was not blind-sided by unexpected circumstances and that He did not lose control. It was all in the eternal plan of God. Jesus was not a victim of circumstances!
Revelation 13:8 assures us that Jesus was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Before the world or man was created, before man had ever sinned, God knew the course of history. He knew man would sin. He knew He would send His Son as the Passover Lamb, to be slain for our sins.
John 10:17-18 and 19:10-11 clearly show that Jesus actively and purposefully laid down His own life. No one took it from Him.
No one could harm Jesus nor take His life until the appointed hour on the cross.
From His birth He was under divine protection all His life. As an infant His life was spared from Herod who sought to kill every baby boy in Bethlehem. Joseph and Mary were directed by God to take the child down into Egypt where they stayed until they heard the news that Herod had died.
Early in Jesus’ ministry when He spoke things the people did not like, they attempted to throw Him over a cliff and kill Him, but Luke 4:28-30 tells us He passing through the midst of them went His way. He was invincible throughout His short life, until the time came for God to slay Him.
From man’s point of view, Jesus’ crucifixion was the greatest miscarriage of justice in human history, but from God’s point of view, every detail of His life and death took place on God’s time table right on schedule.
Galatians 4:4 says, “He was born in the fullness of time” and the Word of God shows us that He died on the appointed day at the appointed hour just as it had been prophesied from the beginning.
God did use man’s wrath and man’s will to carry out His divine will. Treacherous Judas, the hateful Jewish leaders, cowardly Pilate who knew he was sentencing a righteous man to death, the Roman soldiers who followed orders; all of these tools God the Father used to slaughter His own Beloved Son so that we might be saved from our sins. Isaiah 53 clearly shows that God slew His own Son on Calvary.
God’s amazing Grace is poured out on sinners who accept His gracious Gift by recognizing and receiving His salvation wrought through Jesus death and resurrection. God’s wrath is poured out on those sinners who reject Christ as their Saviour from sin.
When we come to Luke 22, understand that we have come to the major theme of the entire Bible, the trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. Everything else in the Bible is preparatory to this. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of the Gospel that had been typified and prophesied throughout the Old Testament. The life story of Jesus in the four Gospels comes to its climax in the last chapters of each of these four records.
The sacrifice of Jesus’ blood is a crucial necessity. This is the reason for the incarnation of Christ. That is, our creator God, came down to this earth and was born as a human being of the virgin Mary. God Himself caused Mary to conceive the holy child, Jesus.
It was not enough for Jesus to teach us how to live a holy, pure life. None of us could ever attain to His standard of perfection. We’ve all fallen short and as a result are condemned sinners facing the wrath of God.
But God in His amazing love and mercy devised a plan before He ever created the world whereby our sins could be forgiven and blotted from our records and we can one day stand before our Holy God in Heaven, through faith in His provision of His Son Jesus who died on the cross, shedding His blood as the one and only perfect atonement for our sins. Those who receive Christ are eternally saved. Those who reject Him are eternally lost and doomed to eternity in hell.
The cross was the heart of Paul’s preaching and it has been the heart of my preaching now for over fifty-three years. Like Paul, my motto as a Christian and as a preacher is to know nothing but Christ crucified and risen again as our Saviour from sin.
The sacrifice of Christ’s blood for our sins is not new in the Gospels. It is pictured and typified and symbolized and prophesied all through the Old Testament. Read the prophecy of His death and resurrection in Psalm 16:8-11.
Christ is first foreshadowed in the animals, no doubt lambs, that were killed and the blood shed for Adam and Eve’s sin of disobeying God. The skins of those animals were used to clothe their nakedness.
Christ is also seen in the ark that Noah and his three sons prepared for the Flood they had never seen, nor could even imagine. Those within the ark were saved when the flood came. Those without drowned. Christ is our Ark of deliverance from the coming judgment on all unbelievers.
In Genesis we read of Abraham and his willingness to obey God by sacrificing his son, Isaac, on an altar. Isaac is a type of Christ whom the Father sacrificed for our sins. But there’s another picture of Christ in this chapter. Though Abraham was willing to trust and obey God in this matter, God did not allow Abraham to kill his son. Instead, He provided a ram caught in a thicket to be the sacrifice instead of his son. That ram is also a picture of Christ who was our substitute. He took the judgment of God in our place.
In Exodus 12 we read of God’s institution of the Passover for Israel. They were to offer a lamb on the 14 day of Nisan which became the beginning of the year for Israel. There are many wonderful details in that story that you can read for yourself. They all picture Christ, who was sacrificed as our Passover Lamb. I Corinthians 5:7 teaches us that Christ is our Passover Lamb.
In Number 20 we read of how Israel traveling through the desert thirsted and God provided water from a rock. That rock, I Corinthians 10:4 tells us, is a picture of Christ who was smitten on Calvary that we might drink the water of life freely.
Boaz, the husband of Ruth, is a type of Jesus, our Kinsman Redeemer, who takes us, His Church, as His Bride. Read A Love Story under the category, LOVE on this web site to read this wonderful story.
Jesus alone is that perfect sacrifice who:
1. Satisfies divine justice Isaiah 53:10-11
2. Atones for our sins. Leviticus 17:11, Romans 5:8-11
3. Propitiates or appeases the wrath of God on us because God has already poured out His wrath on Jesus in our place. Romans 3:23-28, and I John 2:1-2.
When Jesus appeared at the Jordan River as a young man, John the Baptist announced Him with these words, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” John 1:29 Christ’s blood was sufficient to pay for the sins of the whole world, but it is efficacious only to those who receive Him and trust Him as their Saviour.
And so the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present the life and ministry of Jesus, culminating in His death, resurrection and ascension for our sins.
The Book of Acts gives a history of the Early Church as they took the Gospel of Christ to the known world.
The Epistles give us a theology of the cross and explain our wonderful salvation.
The Revelation, the final book of the Bible shows us Christ as the Lamb of God, victorious over sin and Satan and worshipped by His Redeemed throughout eternity.
So in our next message in this series we will begin our journey through the final days and hours of Jesus as He fulfilled the purpose for which He came into this world, to die and rise again for our redemption.
When a baby is born it begins to grow and mature. Actually it has been growing from conception, nine months earlier.
Why does a baby grow? Is it because it decides to grow? Of course not. It does not even understand the concept of growth. Because the baby is alive, it hungers for milk and later solid food. It has no awareness of growth as an infant, and yet it grows and develops and eventually comes to maturity.
So Christians grow; not because they decide to grow or help themselves grow. They grow spiritually because they hunger for and feed on the Word of God. Growth happens because we feed on God’s Word and obey what we understand.
What are evidences of spiritual maturity in any Christian?
The first evidence of spiritual maturity is found in Philippians 3:10-11. It’s an insatiable hunger to know God through reading and meditating on His Word. It’s not just an intellectual hunger to know Him. It’s far more than that. It’s a hunger to know the power of His resurrection in our lives. It’s a hunger for true holiness, even to the degree of being conformed to His image.
We’re thankful for His imputed righteousness through God’s act of justification. We know we stand perfect in His sight. But we want far more than that. We hunger for His imparted righteousness, the truth of sanctification. Yes, Christ is our sanctification, but we crave more than this intellectual understanding. We long to see it worked out in our lives. We long to love righteousness as Christ loves it. We long to hate sin as God hates it. As verse 11 states, we long to attain that practical holiness and perfection we will have when we rise from the dead. We can’t wait until we attain that perfection. We long for it now.
The second evidence of spiritual growth is found in Philippians 3:12-15. That second evidence always follows the first evidence. It is a holy dissatisfaction with our present attainments.
Yes, we’re satisfied with Christ and our righteousness in Him. But we’re not satisfied with ourselves nor our spiritual attainment. We trust Christ for what He is doing in us, but we don’t trust ourselves. We despise our sinful self-nature. As Philippians 3:3 teaches, we have no confidence in our self -nature. It is no sign of spiritual maturity to be self confident in our spiritual attainments. In fact, that is a danger sign. “Let him that thinks he stands beware lest he falls.” I Corinthians 10:12
Rather, we ought to have a holy dissatisfaction and hatred of our sinful self nature. Paul, one of the greatest and most victorious Christians who ever lived describes in Romans 7:12-24 his hatred and struggle with his sinful self nature.
That’s why Paul in Philippians 3 and the writer of Hebrews 12 describe the Christian life as a race. Every Christian is in this race. The finish line is the moment we enter Heaven. We have not yet reached the finish line in our present fleshly bodies on this earth. I’ve met and you will no doubt meet some Christians who think they have already crossed the finish line and have attained perfection in this life, but I John 1:8-10 makes it clear that they are deceiving themselves and making God a liar.
So to recap, the two evidences of spiritual maturity are:
1. An insatiable hunger for righteousness and to be like Jesus.
2. A clear understanding that we have not and will not attain that perfection until we are in Heaven.
Many churches today do not teach holy living. They may focus on evangelism and leading people to Christ. That is certainly a part of the Great Commission and a church is failing if that is ignored.
They may focus on teaching the doctrines of the Faith. That also is an essential responsibility of a church. But if a church is not modeling holiness and teaching it, they are failing as a church. If a pastor is simply known as a great Bible teacher, but is not modeling holiness nor teaching it, he is failing.
The spirit of this age is to despise such preaching, calling it legalism. Christians do not want to feel guilty. They want to feel good about themselves, as so they avoid any preacher or church that deals with their sins.
Why is spiritual growth so essential? Why must it be our goal?
1. Christ-likeness glorifies God. Ephesians 1:12 “That we should BE to the praise of His glory.
2. Christ-likeness evidences that we have been born again. Understand, that Christ-likeness is not the way to be saved. Faith in Christ alone saves, but Christ-likeness evidences that regenerated life. Remember, we are not talking about perfection here. That comes in Heaven. One can be Christ-like in this life and not be perfect.
3. Christ-likeness adorns the Gospel we preach. Titus 2:10 There is nothing so ugly as a preacher or a church that preaches the Gospel and lives like the devil. When we adorn the Gospel we preach, it makes it attractive to the lost. Christ-likeness enhances our witness to the lost and thus promotes true evangelism.
Remember, perfection is a goal and a pursuit; not an achievement in this life, though it is our position in Christ. The only option to spiritual growth is a defeated, wasted life. That should be an intolerable option to every true Christian.