By Patricia Knight
For the past sixty years, obstetric sonography has provided a valuable diagnostic tool used to verify a developing human life. The test reveals the age, gender, and expected weight of an unborn child. A fetus might even be caught on computer sucking his thumb. Birth defects can occasionally be detected early enough to allow for limited reparative surgery prior to birth.
More than two thousand years ago, an angel of the Lord appeared on earth five separate times to announce Jesus’ birth and to give important directions to each of His parents. Near the first century A. D., the Lord sent His emissaries, the angels, to supply all pertinent information. Mary and Joseph knew they would be blessed with a son and that they were to name Him Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
Long ago Jesus’ multiple adult roles were prophesied, much more complex disclosure than we will ever know about our children in advance of their birth. The prophet Isaiah announced the Messiah’s birth centuries before it occurred. Though Mary was only a teenager, it is likely she would have been familiar with the Old Testament prophecy:
“To us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
We rejoice as our newborn baby grows from an infant to a toddler, amazed by developing personality traits and physical characteristics that identify our child as a unique individual. Prior to Jesus’ birth, Mary and Joseph had access to their son’s adult characteristics and functions delivered directly from their heavenly Father by the angels. To Mary, the angel attested, “You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:31).
We know precious little about Jesus’ childhood excluding an isolated incident at age twelve, when He traveled with His parents to observe a holy day in Jerusalem. We learn from that account that Jesus began listening to and teaching educated men in the temple and that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52). At that pre-teen age, Jesus wasn’t yet aware of His unique relationship to His heavenly Father. Although on earth Jesus was God, there is no indication that He possessed all knowledge and wisdom from birth. He appeared to have matured right along with other boys His age.
From then until He approached adulthood there is only silence in Scripture regarding Jesus’ life. During that interim He was likely apprenticing in His father’s carpentry shop, helping to support His family, and living a human life in a sinful world, though He was the completely sinless and righteous Messiah. Then at age thirty, Jesus burst on the scene as the Son of God. For the next three years a prolific history is recorded of Jesus’ life; His ministry of teaching and healing; His obedience to His heavenly Father; His emphasis of praying to God for guidance and strength for His tasks; and His priority of giving God glory for everything He accomplished.
Jesus originally came to earth a pure sacrifice to save sinners. His heinous crucifixion and His glorious resurrection climaxed His purpose here. The characteristics the angels announced to His parents were highlighted during Jesus’ short life, even though much of the populace didn’t accept His Messianic roles. Jesus ascended to heaven to reclaim His rightful throne and there He currently remains at His Father’s right hand, interceding for all those who believe. At His second coming to earth, Jesus will reign as the supreme King who will rule in righteousness forever.
As we grasp the magnificence of Jesus’ birth, let us pause to offer praise for the Messiah who lived on earth, who experienced challenges and victories similar to the ones we confront daily, and who knows best how to respond to our needs. Let us marvel at the sovereign plans for His earthly humanity, established centuries before. Ponder the five angel appearances that supplied a wealth of information to Jesus’ parents. Today, medical tests provide us exciting details about a growing fetus only a few weeks old, but in Jesus’ case, angels eclipsed technology, so typical of our omniscient God, who knows all things throughout the ages. Only our heavenly Father could orchestrate Jesus’ incarnation from God to man and create His sovereign purpose on earth. Give glory to the Father, just as Jesus constantly deferred to God’s majesty when He lived on earth.
You can read more of Pat’s writing here.