The Incarnation: Humanity of Jesus
Merry Christmas! We are excited to take some time out of this busy season and reflect on the reason we celebrate: God sending Jesus to the earth! We begin a two-part series on the incarnation of Jesus, when the Word became flesh. The incarnation is the combination of God becoming man but also being fully God. Is that possible? Of course it is if you’re God! The only way for God to allow sinful humans (that’s all of us!) in His presence was to be both just and the justifier! Chris will focus in on Jesus’s humanity this week.
Here is something we don’t want you to miss: God loves us so much He sent His Son to earth to live a perfect, sinless life and to die for our sins. This is why Jesus came. This is why we proclaim the Good News this time of year. God made a way for us to live and not die! As the famous Christmas hymn exclaims, “Born that man no more may die: Born to raise the son of earth, Born to give them second birth. Hark! the herald angels sing,”Glory to the newborn King!”
If you’d like to listen to Part 2 of this series, Listen Now
Steve Conover: This is the Friends of Israel Today, I'm Steve Conover and with me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. Christmas is upon us and today we'll hear a timely message about Christ becoming man. But first, let's take a look at the news.
The Dead Sea is dying, according to leading experts. Some believe the salty sea could disappear by the year 2050. The Dead Sea borders Israel and Jordan and both countries are working together to advance what is called the Red Sea/Dead Sea project, which would pump Red Sea water through Jordan, to balance the water levels of the Dead Sea. The pipeline would also provide drinking water for Jordan, Israel, and the Palestinian territories.
Chris Katulka: This is a real issue for Israel and for Jordan because the Dead Sea is shrinking. I've watched it over 10 years that I've been going to Israel, leading tours, I've had a chance to literally watch this thing shrink, every year. You know, three feet of water disappears from the Dead Sea and it's really a difficult thing to watch, 'cause it’s an amazing Biblical site that's just kind of disappearing before us.
So as I've watched this thing kind of go down, this Red Sea/Dead Sea project, it not only kind of helps balance the levels of the Dead Sea, which I think is good and I hope this thing moves forward, it also creates a space that I think is great for Israelis and for Jordanians to work together on something that's productive outside of the politics of Israel and Jordan. And to really work on something that they've both value, both Jordanians and Israelis value the Dead Sea. So, personally, I think this is a great promoter of peace, as well.
Chris Katulka: I was just having this discussion with a friend the other day about compromise. You know, compromise is an agreement that's reached between two people or two parties and each side has to make a concession. I think it happens in marriage, especially around Christmas time. Where to spend holidays, that's a compromise. You compromise on which stores to go to for shopping. You compromise on the gifts that you want to get. So compromise happens a lot in families. With kids, as well.
But compromise also happens in politics, too. We don't see compromise in politics a lot because the news only projects the fighting and the stubbornness between the two parties, but in reality, Democrats and Republicans still do make compromises with each other when legislating. It's a give and take, just sadly, the news doesn't ever talk about those moments, they only want to highlight those things of stress and division for news’ sake.
But as my friend and myself were having this talk about compromise, I started to think about compromise when it comes to salvation. You would think it would take tons of compromise to get God to accept a sinner as a saint. That our salvation and deliverance would be a part of a massive spiritual compromise. I mean, how else can a Holy God who knows no sin, who is perfect, all knowing, all powerful, righteous, clean, holy, accept someone who is full of sin and shame, who is limited in his knowledge, abilities, who is unrighteous, unclean, and unholy.
Where did a Holy God make a compromise to accept those who trust and believe in Him? Well, if you want to know what Christmas is all about, my friends, it's this. God didn't compromise anything. He's no politician. There's no give and take, with God. God's character, His holiness, prevents Him from compromising. Christmas is all about how God provided a way to both maintain His holy righteous standards and to mend the relationship between Him and His creation, without compromising a thing.
See, to me, compromise is when two parties reach that agreement, and make a concession, but see, salvation is a gift that's given by God. It's not a compromise, it's a gift. And the gift that God gave cost Him everything. And since God didn't compromise, He become both the just and the justifier. That means that He's the one who is both able to be right and the one whose able to make right, and He does this through the incarnation of Jesus the Messiah.
When we talk about the incarnation, we're talking about the moment when God became man. And friends, this is what we're going to talk about. We're focusing our attention for the next two weeks, on the incarnation of Jesus. When the word became flesh, as John tells us. This is how God will maintain His holiness and invite His creation that's steeped in sin into a relationship with Him. And He will take on the form of man, while never compromising His holiness. In order to defeat death, once and for all.
See friends, God never compromised. God sacrificed what was most valuable to Him. The incarnation of Christ, is the combination of God becoming man and the Apostle Paul argues that understanding this concept is at the heart of what the gospel is all about. I want you to listen to what the Apostle says in the beginning of Romans chapter one. Listen to this. “From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an Apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, this gospel He promised beforehand, through His prophets in the holy scriptures concerning His son, who was a descendant of David, with reference to the flesh, who was appointed the son of God in power, according to the Holy Spirit by the Resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Okay, here it is. At the center of the gospel, just as Paul was saying here, is the understanding that Jesus is both 100 percent human and 100 percent God. Did you hear what Paul said? That Jesus, who was predicted and promised in the Old Testament, is both flesh, a son of King David, and a divine, the divine son of God. And today, we're going to focus on the humanity of Jesus' incarnation. It's interesting because Paul says that Jesus' humanity and divinity were predicted in the Old Testament. Do you remember where he said that? He said, this is something that wasn't just made up in that moment, this is something that the prophets had been promising for a long time. So we're going to kind of park ourselves in an Old Testament passage that I actually think is really fitting for the Christmas season, and what we're going to talk about here with the incarnation.
Because it's a passage in the prophet Micah, that was prophetically pointing to where the Messiah would be born in the city of Bethlehem. Listen to Micah, chapter five, verse two. But you, oh Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me, one who is to be ruler in Israel. Whose coming forth is from of old from ancient days. Now, there is a lot of prophecy that's packed into this little verse here. But what stands out the most is that the Messiah, the King of Israel, would be born in Bethlehem. Bethlehem is famous with Christians because it's the place where Jesus was born in a manger. You know, even Christians who only go to church on Easter and Christmas, know Jesus was born in Bethlehem. They sing the song, you know, O Little Town of Bethlehem.
There's a reason He was born in Bethlehem. Remember Paul said at the heart of the gospel, is that Jesus was born as a son who is a descendant of King David. You have to go back into the biblical history of the Old Testament, and you get to this small book in the Bible, in the Old Testament, called, Ruth. You know, Ruth was a Moabite daughter-in-law of Naomi. Naomi was from Bethlehem and her family fled Bethlehem during a famine and landed in Moab, that's kind of like modern day Jordan, today. And that's where her sons married Moabite women and eventually, Naomi's husband and two sons died, leaving Naomi with only her daughter-in-law, Ruth. Ruth didn't have to, but she followed Naomi to her homeland and back to her people in Bethlehem.
To cut right to the chase, Ruth marries Boaz, who is one of Naomi's family members. The book of Ruth ends with Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz in Bethlehem, and they start a family. Ruth and Boaz had Obed, Obed had Jesse, and Jesse was the father of, everybody, King David. And then Ruth ends, that's the ending of Ruth, in Ruth, chapter four, and right away, First Samuel begins. Which is all about the history surrounding King David. But what's most important to see here, is that Bethlehem isn't just some small town, five miles south of Jerusalem, where Jesus was born. See, Jesus was born in Bethlehem for a reason. Because the most famous King of Israel, who ever lived, was born and raised in Bethlehem, King David.
It's the reason the gospel of Matthew spends so much time, right up front, highlighting Jesus' lineage. Mathew wants to show you that Jesus is the son of David, in the flesh. And even more than that, He's royalty. Jesus' birth in a lowly manger, definitely highlights His humility of how the King of kings and Lord of lords came into the world. However, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, screams something completely opposite as well that we don't often think about when we read the birth stories of Jesus. It's this, Bethlehem screams to the Jewish community of that day that Jesus is both human and royalty. He's the son of David, who has come to deliver His people and to establish God's kingdom, just as the prophets had promised.
I'm sure this Christmas season, you received a Christmas card that says, for unto us a child is born and to us a son is given. You might have read that at some point, you've gotten some Christmas card over the years that's said that. And that comes from Isaiah 9:6. But usually, that Christmas card stops there, because the rest of the verse is all about what Jesus will do in the future. In Jesus' humanity, it says, as the son of David, it says that the government will be upon His shoulders, that for unto us a child is born, a son is given, the government shall be upon His shoulders and the increase of His government and of peace, there will be no end. On the throne of David, there it is everybody, and over His kingdom, to establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness, from this time forth, and forever more.
See, when Jesus was born, He was both fully God and fully human. And that's why when we come back, we're going to unpack this a little more, this humanity of Jesus. You know, Jesus came in human form, because really Jewish people expected the Messiah to be human. But you know, to defeat this concept of sin and death, why did, why did Jesus have to be, take on flesh? Why couldn't God just accomplish it, Himself? Why is flesh, why is Jesus' humanity such an important part of this story of salvation and His incarnation as we celebrate Christmas? Well, I think it's an important question, and I want you to stick around to find out.
Chris Katulka: At the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, we want you to be equipped to share the gospel wherever you are. One of the greatest tools for sharing the message of Jesus is to show how He fulfilled the prophecies spoken about Him, hundreds of years before His birth. Isaiah 53 is one of those powerful prophecies that speaks clearly of Jesus as God's suffering servant, who would give His life for ours. In Victor Buksbazen's book, Isaiah's Messiah, Dr. Buksbazen masterfully answers the all important Jewish question, of who did the prophets speak? Dr. Buksbazen, shows how Isaiah 53, a section of the Bible never read in Synagogue speaks unequivocally of Jesus. This easy to read book, will give you the confidence you need to answer any question a Jewish person may have about Jesus. To order your copy of Isaiah’s Messiah, visit our website, foiradio.org or call 888-343-6940. That's 888-343-6940.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone, and Merry Christmas to you, as the Christmas season is upon us. We're talking about that divine moment in human history, when God became man. The incarnation, the birth, of Jesus the Messiah. The birth of Jesus is God's way of saying that He's not compromising His holiness to welcome sinners into a relationship with Him. But that He's willing to sacrifice everything on His own to reconcile and redeem His creation. So in the previous segment, we kind of unpacked a little bit, the human side of the incarnation. That at the heart of the gospel, according to the Old Testament prophets and to what Paul is telling us, is that the Messiah would be fully human. Just what we read about in Romans, chapter one, and in Micah, chapter five, verse two.
But we need to ask ourselves a question. If God is God, and He is all powerful and all knowing, and eternal, the creator of everything, why did He need to send His son to become human? Well, I have a few reasons for you, here.
The best way, this is the first one, the best way for God to reveal His nature to us, so that we could see His law, essentially, at work, coupled with grace and compassion, and mercy, is to see it in action as it's revealed in the human life of Jesus on Earth. Before Jesus, the only way somebody could understand God and His character, was through His law. The Old Testament law. But when, the word became flesh, now we can see what the law looks like as it's lived out in the life of Jesus, the human life of Jesus. This is the reason Jesus says, in John chapter 14, the person who has seen Me, this is what He says, the person who has seen Me, has seen the Father. If you want to see, hear, watch, interact with God, just look at Me, Jesus is saying.
Which leads to my second point. Jesus lived out the law of God in perfection with humility and grace, and compassion, in human form for everyone to see and by doing that, He left an example for how we should live today. If the word didn't become flesh, we wouldn't be able to see how God, Himself, would respond to human issues that we deal with, in life. Like suffering, and loneliness, and loss, and pain. We wouldn't be able to see how Jesus interacted with sinners and the religious authority. We wouldn't be able to see how Jesus, who was the King of kings and the Lord of lords, actually stooped down. Think about this, stooped down to wash the feet of His disciples.
You know, First John 2:6 says this, “the one who says he resides in God, ought himself to walk just as Jesus walked.” That idea there that John is talking about, when he says walk just as Jesus walked, he's saying a Christian, someone who loves the Lord, whose put his trust in the Lord, must be walking as the Lord. That means that your behavior should mimic the behavior of Jesus. As we've seen it in His humanity as He walked on Earth.
But really, here’s the most important point as to why God had to take on flesh. The vital aspect of the incarnation, the vital aspect of the God we worship this Christmas season, is this, is without God taking on flesh, we would have no savior. In the Old Testament, we see that the penalty for sin, the penalty for the broken relationship with God, is death. However, God in the Old Testament, provided a way to maintain a relationship with him through animal sacrifice. That put a substitute in place of the sinner. There must be death of one person, or one animal, in place of the one who was sinful. This is why God became man. Because think about this, God can not die. He's eternal. But by Jesus taking on the form of man, He came so that He might fulfill His destiny to die a human death in our place. Without Jesus becoming 100 percent man, there's no eternal sacrifice for our sins today.
Friends, I want you to be sure to join us next week. Because next week, we're going to look at the other side of the coin when it comes to the incarnation. When God became man. When the word became flesh. We're going to look at Jesus' divinity. While Jesus was 100 percent human, He was also 100 percent God. I hope you return next week.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: In the days preceding Christmas, many in Israel asked believers how can God have a birthday? I recently answered a group of such people. If you have any more questions, ask, and I'll answer, but the answer may surprise you. They fired off many questions. Why are you so happy at this time of year? Why do you make such a big celebration on Christmas? Who is Jesus? Why did He come? I responded, I will answer you, but let me first tell a story.
Once on a cold winter day, a man noticed a small bird outside his window. The bird wanted to come in and warm itself, but the window was closed. The man opened the window, to let it come in, but the bird became frightened and flew away. The man felt sorry and wished he could become a bird, so he could invite it inside.
The Jewish people are like this poor bird, I told them. But God loves them, and did not want them to fly off on the road and be lost forever. So in His great mercy, He sent His son, as a man. His son spoke with us in our language, telling us what God was like and how much He loved us. Then He suffered and died in our place, so we could be reconciled to God. Because of this, we could be happy in the Lord and praise His name.
They listened intently. But when I finished, one of them said, "Well, that was a nice story, but it's only for Christians. There's nothing written in our Jewish Bible about Jesus."
I replied, "Now, I will show you that surprise. I will show you from the Jewish scriptures a song sung in the Hebrew language, by Christians, at this time of year, to welcome our Savior." And I read Zechariah 9:9. “Rejoice greatly, o daughter of Zion, shout o daughter of Jerusalem, your King is coming to you. He is just and having salvation.”
I continued, "Jesus came to Earth because humanity had sunk deep into sin, and God wanted to change hearts and provide lasting atonement. Jesus, came to cleanse us from sin, forever."
One replied, "This is only a Christian story found in Christian books, it's not for Jews." I countered, "You can read about the Messiah in your own Jewish Bible. Passages such as, Micah 5:2, Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 9:6&7, and Isaiah 53, will clearly portray who He is. If you have time, I will be glad to read and discuss them with you." I was delighted they were willing to read the scripture with me. When we were finished, I asked, "Now, do you understand why I am so happy in Him? Do you think the stories of the Rabbis are true and more relevant to the Messiah then what we have read from the scriptures?"
"Oh no," one said. "The Bible, is the only book." I ask, "If that is so, what are you waiting for, why not believe in your hearts all we have read, then you too can share in this joy." They all were glad I had explained the significance of Christmas. There are many people in this world, and each should have the opportunity to hear the good news of the incarnation and death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. All who yield their lives to Him will receive salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life.
Chris Katulka: The impact of Zvi's life and ministry in Israel continues to inspire. Zvi's ministry in Israel lives on through his family, today, and has encouraged many of our friends of Israel workers around the world to continue ministering to the Jewish community. You know, when you give to the Friends of Israel, your donation allows us to advance the Gospel of our Messiah, Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org and you can click on our donate link. Our radio ministry is dependent on the faithful giving of our listeners.
Steve Conover: That's right, Chris, the truth is, we can't continue without you, our radio listener. Many may not realize that it's quite expensive to create, and broadcast a radio program each week. And as the year comes to a close, you can directly help us continue this radio ministry. Our goal is to raise $15,000 this month. Visit foiradio.org, it's not too late to give a year end gift for 2018, visit foiradio.org. Our host and teacher, is Chris Katulka, today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, co-written by Sarah Fern, Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold, our theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide Christian ministry communicating biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while fostering solidarity with the Jewish people.
And from all of us here at the Friends of Israel, a Merry Christmas.
By Victor Buksbazen
From the scholarly pen of Victor Buksbazen comes an excellent witnessing tool on a premier section of the prophetic Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 52—53. This attractive gift-sized volume masterfully answers the all-important Jewish question, “Of whom did the prophet speak?” Of Israel, as many rabbis teach, or of Messiah? In a superb, verse-by-verse exposition, Dr. Buksbazen shows how Isaiah 53—a section of the Bible never read in the synagogue—speaks unequivocally of Jesus.
Apples of Gold: How Can God Have a Birthday?
“Why are you so happy this time of year?” The people in Israel asked Zvi this question every year. Zvi loved Christmastime and enjoyed explaining why it is such a joyous celebration. But he always warned them that his answer may not be what they expect. Zvi took them to the Hebrew Scriptures (the Old Testament). They were shocked and thankful for him taking time to show them where the Messiah was talked about in the Old Testament.
Zvi’s story is available in Elwood McQuaid’s book, “Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph over the Holocaust,” available at our online store.
More stories from Zvi are also available in his book, “The Best of Zvi,” available at our online store.
The Friends of Israel Today and Apples of Gold theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.