The most important part of the Gospel is the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead. Don’t misunderstand … the Incarnation, Ministry, Death and Burial of Jesus are all vitally important, but without the Resurrection, there would be no Gospel!
Anyone could die for others, as many have done during wars, but none of them ever took their lives back again. Put another way, the Gospel is a “package” (I say this with the utmost respect and reverence). Every ingredient is required. Man cannot pay for his sin as a sinner. The requirement of God is far too high for man to ever achieve holiness and sinlessness by himself. Depravity cannot reach pure morality by any effort or achievement of self.
1) So God in love, grace and mercy steps into our world and becomes man. This is the meaning of the incarnation. I find the angel’s words to Joseph in Matthew chapter 1 very helpful. When he found out that Mary was pregnant, Joseph considered divorcing her
Mt 1:20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”—which means, “God with us.”
Here we see a few important teachings that could easily be overlooked if one reads the passage in a hurry.
(1) Mary’s pregnancy was from the Holy Spirit. This does not mean any intimacy. It means the Holy Spirit miraculously permitted a virgin girl of about 12 to 14 years old to become pregnant without sexual intercourse and without a man’s participation.
(2) Because of Adam’s sin, which was substitutional, we are all sinners by birth. This is known as “inherit sinful disposition or nature”. If man cannot pay the sin price because he is a sinner, how would a son born of Mary, impregnated by Joseph (or any other man) be able to settle man’s sin debt before God? No human father meant Messiah was sinless!
(3) Mary was chosen by God as a young, pure, godly lady to be the vehicle for the promised Messiah to come to earth. This is the miracle the Holy Spirit brought about. This is where “God Incarnate” comes from … and this is why we refer to our Lord Jesus as “the Godman”.
(4) His name “Jesus” is also revealing. It means Jehovah saves. The angel says … you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins. This was God’s intention in the Incarnation.
(5) This birth fulfills the prophecy in Isaiah 7:
Is 7:14 The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
The Holy Spirit directs Matthew to add … “Immanuel”—which means, “God with us”. This is where the Gospel starts … Jesus’ Incarnation.
2) Jesus’ exemplary life and ministry. We must understand that Jesus was sinless, meaning that everything He did was righteous with pure motives and intentions. As the Godman (God Incarnate), He, although limiting Himself, had all the divine powers to heal, restore sight, hearing and speech, exorcise demons, control the weather (seas), know what people were thinking, planning and scheming as well as many other things we humans might not be aware of. Although evil forces both then and now are capable of some of these things, the purpose is evil and the scope is wickedness. It was His holy life, His accurate Bible expositions and the demonstration of Divinity (Messiahship) that found Him being executed at Calvary. Although, as gruesome as this sounds, God nailed His Son to the Cross for our sin, yet those who performed the act, from the Jewish leaders and their nation to Pontius Pilate and his soldiers will account for this crucifixion.
3) Jesus’ death. Isaiah is pivotal in prophecy in the fifty-third chapter, explaining the horrific details of the crucifixion and the whipping and beating that preceded it. Jesus’ ordeal is so awful that explaining the lacerated back and sides with skin and tissue hanging in shreds, the holes in His head from the “thorn crown”, the holes through His wrists and upper feet where the wrought iron nails entered, His side pierced with a sword and the total exhaustion would be too horrific for us to handle. Please read Isaiah 53 when you have a chance. Yes … Jesus endured just that for you and me who believe. That beloved is the purchase price. That is the payment for our sin. This is where the Father turned His face away. This is where Jesus experienced being deserted … when His Father looked the other way. Why … because of the Father’s unconditional, eternal love for all He chose before the creation of the world! My friends, this is mind blowing! You have to try and grasp this. Although the magnitude of Calvary is beyond our grasp … feel and experience something of just how much God loves you. Then, lets love and walk in holiness out of gratitude for such a great salvation.
4) Jesus was buried in a tomb. The significance of this proves that when Joseph of Arimathea removed His body from the Cross, Jesus was dead. Together with Nicodemus, Joseph buried Jesus in his (Joseph’) freshly cut out tomb. A huge stone was rolled over the doorway to prevent anyone robbing the body to prove resurrection.
5) Jesus rose from the dead. Back in Acts we read:
Ac 10:39 “We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 40 but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen.”
Jesus prophesied that He would be raised on the third day. Who raised Jesus? God the Father. If we thought that the Father’s turning His face away was wrong because it resulted in wrath being poured out upon His Son … here we see His love exerted in the Resurrection. This Resurrection could only have been possible if Jesus was God Incarnate … only if Jesus was sinless … only if Jesus substitutional sacrifice was successful … only if the Father accepted the Blood Offering of His Son. Praise God … He did … and the proof is the Resurrection! This is why we said … “The most important part of the Gospel is the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus from the dead.” This glorious news is not exclusive to Cornelius and his large group of guests … it is for all who shall believe … including you and me. Remember that you can never share the Gospel without including the Resurrection because the Resurrection is not just about Jesus … it includes substitution! He rose from the dead for believers! This guarantees our resurrection unto eternal life once we pass through the veil of death!
Father, thank You for the intricacies of the Gospel that focuses on Your acceptance of all who believe and follow the Lord Jesus. Amen.