“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18
Now, I’m still looking through the eyes of these words of Jesus, “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.” And today that is stopping me just a little farther in Matthew 1. I’ve gotten as far as the conception of You, Jesus, as a baby. And here is how it happened. Let’s look at Luke’s account as he goes into greater detail.
“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.” (Luke 1:26,27) Now, let’s just get that straight. This woman Mary, who was considered as “married” already to Joseph (that’s the seriousness of betrothal) had never intimately been with any man, ever.
Let’s continue. So Gabriel came to her “and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!'” Oh my, I need to stop. “O favored one.” What does that mean when God sends an angel to say that to someone? Does that mean that Mary was perfect and sinless and had won God’s reward and pleasure to bear His Son? I looked up the word for “favored.” The Greek word is “charitoo”. Strong’s concordance says it means, “to grace, i.e. indue with special honor:–make accepted, be highly favoured.” When I read that, I see God bestowing His grace upon her. I see almighty God induing her with special honor from Him. I see Him making her accepted and highly favouring her because He chose to. 2 Chronicles 16:9 tells us “The Lord’s eyes scan the whole world to find those whose hearts are committed to Him and to strengthen them.” Mary wasn’t perfect or sinless, but she was finding herself complete in Him and allowing herself to be made ready, full, just, peaceable, and perfected by Him. So He came because she was waiting and expecting Him.
“But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be done, since I am a virgin?’ “ Good question, don’t you think?
“And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:28-38)
So what does this have to do with following the thinking about Your words, Lord, “As the Father has sent me, even so am I sending you”? Isn’t this about Mary? Well, it’s all about Jesus, and about Mary, and about you and me and everyone who ever has lived or ever will live. Because I have to ask myself, how did You, Jesus, come to be the Savior of the world? See, You already were You. Scripture tells me You always existed. John tells us “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. All things were made by Him…” You, Yourself, Jesus, are recorded in John 17:5 announcing these words, “And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.” So why is that important?
Because Father God sent Jesus God into the world as a baby. He decided that Jesus had to be born. Even though He already existed, He had to become as man. The only way to truly become as man is to be born physically as a man. So God, in Jesus, remained God, yet became man by being truly born.
Now think about that. “As the Father has sent me, even so am I sending you.” Jesus had to be born to become a “real” man. What bearing does that have for me? I am a man, well, woman, but physically of mankind. Therefore I am physically and wholly human. What if I want to not ony be human but enter into the family of God? Is God only human? No, before Jesus was even human, He was spiritually ever existent. He was other than human. He was so much more. Therefore, to enter fully into relationship with God, through Jesus, I must be more than wholly human. I, like Jesus, must be born into that relationship. And I’m not the only one saying this.
Jesus, You were speaking with Nicodemus, a Pharisee (a religious leader), and here are the words You told him. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.’ Jesus, You were sent to be born. Why? Because it was the only way You could really KNOW us.
How could being born make You know us? Listen to Jesus’ words continued, “No one has ascended into heaven except He who descended from heaven, the Son of Man [Jesus!]. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up[upon the cross], that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.'” Just as You, Jesus, could only be made known to us through being born as one of us, so we can only know You by being born again, being born anew into You. Just as You came to us by being made like us, we must come to You and be made like You.
Either way you look at it, whether Jesus being born as a man, or you or me being born again and becoming spiritually alive in Christ, spiritually united with God, a child of God–that’s miraculous! But this is the only way that Jesus could be sent. And this is the only way that Jesus will send me, if I come to Him and cry out to Him to be my life and to take my life and make it His and to give me new, true life. I can’t explain it, it’s like the wind, but I know that if someone is seeking Him, they will find find Him, because He WILL make Himself known.
I love the way the Good News Bible puts Peters words in 1 Peter 1:23-25, “For through the living and eternal Word of God you have been born again as the children of a parent who is immortal, not mortal. As the Scripture says, ‘All human beings are like grass, and all their glory is like wild flowers. The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.’ This Word is the Good News that was proclaimed to you.” This Good News has been shown to You. He was born for you and me and lived out His life and death and resurrection and life forevermore right before your eyes, all for you, in a way you and I could know and experience. And unless we enter in through being born again into Him and of Him, He can’t send us. Because He only sends us the ways the Father sent Him.
Am I following Your examples and Your ways, Lord? Am I following You so closely that I understand what You require of me because I know You? More than anything I want to know You, and I mean really know You, so that I can truly follow You and so that You can truly send me as You were sent. Because I don’t want to misrepresent You. I don’t ever want to make You less than You truly are. May I see You as You truly are more and more every day, forever. And may I resemble You more and more every day, as I continually surrender to Your work in me for Your glory alone