The Incarnate Hero

Text: Matthew 1:18-25


People love stories about men and women who rescue those in need. Growing up I loved to read the Hardy Boys – Frank and Joe Hardy were teenage brothers and amateur detectives. They spent every free moment investigating crimes and seeking to save different individuals from danger and death. Each of the stories had me hooked and I couldn’t put down the book until I found out who the perpetrator was, and how Frank and Joe came to the rescue of those in need.

Presently I am re-reading the Famous Five series. Julian, Dick, Anne, Georgina (George) and Timmy (the dog) spend their days in the school holidays solving crimes and going on adventures together. Inevitably, there is always a twist in these novels and someone who needs to be saved. I could always count on the Famous Five to catch the “baddies” and deliver those in trouble.

And then there is superman – Joe Siegel’s fictional character who first appeared in 1938. I don’t so much like superman’s fashion sense, but I love what He stands for -Truth, Justice and the American Way. The story of Clark Kent and his alter-ego, superman, have thrilled audiences since 1938. An alien who lives amongst us, and spends his days rescuing people whilst trying to maintain his occupation as a journalist. He is constantly misunderstood by friends and strangers, and yet he is always looking out for those in need. With supernatural powers, this alien-man conceals his true identity, operates with justice, and does not seek praise or honour from those he saves. A great fictional hero.

Coded into our DNA as human beings, is the love for stories of heroism and salvation. We love to read about it, watch it, and even be engaged in situations where we can rescue others. This inclination within is by divine design. There is a longing within our souls to experience salvation, but from what, and by whom, may be a mystery to us today.

In this message, I hope to give you an overview of the essential truths regarding Jesus Christ – His person, purpose, prophecy and power.

Join me as I preach a message entitled: The Incarnate Hero.

1. The Miracle of Divine Conception

“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)

Consider the weight of this verse! Sometimes the commonality of this text precludes us from being awe-struck!

Joseph is betrothed to Mary.

  • Among the Jews, betrothal took place about a year before marriage.
  • During this time, the betrothed maiden remained with her own family.
  • Betrothal was a contract entered into but not yet consummated physically.
  • Unfaithfulness during this period was considered adultery and invoked severe consequences.
  • It was the man’s responsibility to organise/build a lodging for his new wife and then collect her at the appointed time.

It was during this preparation time that Mary was found to be with child”.

Put yourself in Joseph’s shoes for a moment.

  • He is pledged to be married to Mary.
  • Very likely he is uncontactable during the days of the betrothal.
  • He comes to collect his wife-to-be (perhaps because of the census) and finds her with child.
  • Mary has already been told by the angel (Luke 1:26-37), but Joseph does not know at this point!

How your mind would race?

Imagine arriving at Mary’s parent’s home to find your bride-to-be at least 6 months pregnant?

Imagine hearing Mary give the explanation to Joseph about the angel’s visit and that she had been selected to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah!

Don’t forget that Joseph would not have known Mary very well and that it was likely an arranged marriage.

“from the Holy Spirit”

If it wasn’t enough that Mary appeared to have been unfaithful to Joseph, now she claims that this child is the direct product of God! How bewildering!

At this point in the account many questions arise:

  • Is Mary lying?
  • Can God procreate with a human?
  • Is this account even possible or is it a fable?
  • Would the child be human? God? Or something else?

The doctrine of divine conception and the virgin birth are critical to understanding the person of Jesus Christ.

For years the cults, scientists, and skeptics have denied the biblical account.

In fact, there is a common test used to determine the truth of a theory called the scientific method. This process involves forming a hypothesis (theory), testing the theory, analysing the data, and seeking to reproduce the outcome.

In science, if a theory cannot be reproduced, it is considered unsubstantiated.

In this regard, many a scientist has taken the “doctrine of the virgin birth” and denied its accuracy because it cannot be measured or reproduced.

The only problem with this form of testing is that it is based upon man’s logic and does not take into account the supernatural power of God!

The Bible says that God caused Mary to fall pregnant without the aid of a human being. This fact must be believed by faith. It cannot be explained in human terms, not can it be tested in the lab.

Mary’s child was the product of a divine miracle.

By the way, Mary was not chosen because she was sinless or the only worthy surrogate womb available, she was chosen by God for reasons known only to Himself.

Luke 1:35 “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.”

The child conceived within Mary was no ordinary child. The “seed” of this conception was not human and therefore untainted by original sin. The baby was holy. No inclination or disposition towards that which is evil.

Lest we misunderstood the manner in which this conception took place, let me simply say that the Holy Spirit “coming upon” Mary is not indicative of human intercourse, but rather a special creative work performed by God in her womb.

Matthew Henry: The mystery of Christ’s incarnation is to be adored, not pried into. If we know not the way of the Spirit in the formation of common persons, nor how the bones are formed in the womb of any one that is with child, much less do we know how the blessed Jesus was formed in the womb of the virgin.”

A.T. Robertson: “There is no miracle with God who has all power and all knowledge. The laws of nature are simply the expression of God’s will, but he has not revealed all his will in the laws that we discover. God is Spirit. He is Person. He holds in his own power all life.”

2. The Mysterious Duality

“She will bear a son” (Matthew 1:21a)

This amazing account is filled with incomprehensible truths.

Firstly we have divine conception and now we see a mysterious duality – a son of man (woman) and the Son of God.

On 86 occasions in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man”. In fact it is His favourite title for Himself.

On 43 occasions in the New Testament Jesus is referred to as the “Son of God.

These titles are a paradox but not a contradiction. They are hard to blend, and yet they are intrinsically unified.

Jesus is Mary’s son in every sense, and He is the Son of God in every sense.

If you attack either of these biblical truths, you rob Jesus of His TRUE character.

He is the God-man. The One who existed before His birth in Bethlehem as a man, and the One who will exist for all eternity.

The great paradox is that the Son of God created His own mother.

Michael Card, a renowned Christian musician, wrote a song called, “To the Mystery”:

When the Father longed to show

A love He wanted us to know

He sent His only Son and so

Became a holy embryo

That is the mystery

More than you can see

Give up on your pondering

And fall down on your knees

A fiction as fantastic and wild

A mother made by her own child

A hopeless babe who cried

Was God Incarnate and man deified

That is the mystery

More than you can see

Give up on your pondering

And fall down on your knees

Because the fall did devastate

Creator must now recreate

So to take our sin

Was made like us so we could be like Him

That is the mystery

More than you can see

Give up on your pondering

And fall down on your knees

The only appropriate response to the fact that Jesus is the Son of Man and the Son of God is to fall on our knees in praise and worship.

3. A Common Name with Extraordinary Implications

“…and you shall call his name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21).

There are 12 specific occasions that we know of where God instructed parents give their child a particular name, or to alter one that was already in existence.

Every time God did this there was a clear purpose in mind:

  1. Adam – “Earthy, red earth, out of the ground” (Adam’s name is given by God – inferred).
  2. Abram to Abraham: “A high father, a lofty father” to “Father of a great multitude” (Genesis 17:5).
  3. Sarai to Sarah: “Contentious, quarrelsome” to “Princess, noble woman” (Genesis 17:15).
  4. Isaac – “laughing” or “laughter” (Genesis 17:19).
  5. Ishmael – “He will be heard of God” (Genesis 16:11).
  6. Jacob to Israel: “He who supplants, supplanter” to “He will be prince with God” (Genesis 32:28).
  7. Maher-shal-al-hashbaz – “Haste to the spoil, hasten to the prey” (Isaiah 8:3-4).
  8. The prophet Hosea had three children by a prostitute at the Lord’s command and God named each with a specific purpose and meaning: Jezreel “God sows”; Loruhamah “No mercy”; Loammi “Not my people”.
  9. John the Baptist – “Jehovah has been gracious” (Luke 1:13).
  10. Jesus – “Jehovah is salvation” (Matthew 1:21).


Names play an important role in the Bible and it is worth studying out these different terms and their meanings.

I am told that my mother chose my name because she was reading through Daniel during her pregnancy. I am only glad that she was not reading Habakkuk!!!

The name Jesus (ye-sus) is the Greek form of the Old Testament name Joshua (Yeshua). Yeshua was a very common name in those days. In fact the Bible records at least 4 different “Joshua’s” in the Old Testament and at least two “Jesus’s” in the New Testament (Col.4:11).

The human name given to the Son of God was not unique, but in His case it had extraordinary implications.

Interesting fact: It was always the father’s right to name the child (Luke 1:62) which is why the angel told Joseph what Mary’s son should be called (Matthew 1:21).

“Jehovah is salvation” (Jesus) took on new meaning when the God-man became the sin-bearer for all who would be saved.

The name given by the angel to Joseph was purposeful. The Lord JESUS Christ was not just another “yeshua” (Joshua), He was the promised One who would rescue His people. The hero, the spiritual life-saver, the Mediator between God and man, the only One qualified to expiate sin and impute righteousness.

“For he shall save his people from their sins.”

The greatest prophecy in the Bible uttered by the words of this angel.

Let us pause a moment to consider what is meant by this prophetic statement.

  1. Save” (sozo) means to: “rescue, deliver, heal, preserve and protect, to liberate, discharge a debt, and to redeem.”


  2. “His people” refers in the initial sense to the Israelites. John 1:11 tells us that Jesus “came to his own, and his own people did not receive him”, which then opened the way for all who would to believe on Him.
  3. “From their sins” – This implicates all humanity who are depraved and bound in sin. The Scripture makes it clear that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and none are righteous, no not one” (Romans 3:10).

Outside of Jesus Christ and His sacrificial death on the cross for sinners, all are doomed to eternal destruction. God makes it abundantly clear that “the soul that sins shall die.”

Rather than letting humanity be cast headlong into hell forever, God’s great love was demonstrated in that He sent His “Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14).

However, salvation from sin is not an automatic reality. It cannot be achieved through good works, keeping the sacraments, living a moral life, looking out for your fellow-man, or being honest in your dealings

The only way a sinner can be saved is by recognising their own sinfulness before a holy and righteous God, and trusting that the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the only means by which they can be saved and brought into a relationship with God.

Failure to believe in this truth will result in eternal damnation.

Salvation in Jesus Christ is possible today because of all that He accomplished on the cross and through His resurrection.


4. A 600 Year-Old Prophecy Fulfilled

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:22-23)

Isaiah was a faithful prophet of God some 600 years before Jesus was born. In the middle of a specific prophecy to his people in that day, there is a verse which reads: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

Matthew and Luke both make reference to this prophecy in their gospel accounts (Matthew 1:22-23; Luke 1:31,34) and unequivocally declare Jesus to be it’s fulfilment.

There are no less than 353 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled during His 33 years on earth.

Professor Peter Stoner was chairman of the mathematics and astronomy departments at Pasadena City College until 1953 before moving to Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. During his tenure there, he published a book entitled, “Science speaks” which was the result of many years of research and calculation. Stoner was seeking to apply the science of probability to the Scriptures, and in particular eight prophecies made in the Old Testament about the Lord Jesus Christ.

  1. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
    The average population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present (1958) divided by the average population of the earth during the same period.


  2. A messenger will prepare the way for the Messiah (Malachi 3:1).
    One man in how many, the world over, has had a forerunner (in this case, John the Baptist) to prepare his way?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000.


  3. The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
    One man in how many, who has entered Jerusalem as a ruler, has entered riding on a donkey?
    Estimate: 1 in 100


  4. The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend and suffer wounds in His hands (Zechariah 13:6).
    One man in how many, the world over, has been betrayed by a friend, resulting in wounds in his hands?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000


  5. The Messiah will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12).
    Of the people who have been betrayed, one in how many has been betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000


  6. The betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter’s field (Zechariah 11:13).
    One man in how many, after receiving a bribe for the betrayal of a friend, has returned the money, had it refused, and then experienced it being used to buy a potter’s field?
    Estimate: 1 in 100,000


  7. The Messiah will remain silent while He is afflicted (Isaiah 53:7).
    One man in how many, when he is oppressed and afflicted, though innocent, will make no defense of himself?
    Estimate: 1 in 1,000


  8. The Messiah will die by having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16).
    One man in how many, since the time of David, has been crucified?
    Estimate: 1 in 10,000


Multiplying all these probabilities together produces a number (rounded off) of 1×10 to the power of 28. Dividing this number by an estimate of the number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies (88 billion) produces a probability of all 8 prophecies being fulfilled accidentally in the life of one person. That probability is 1 in 10 to the power of 17 or 1 in one hundred quadrillion (The number 1 with 17 zeros on the end)!!

Jesus is the promised Messiah – declared to be so in the Scriptures, substantiated through mathematics, verified by saints throughout the ages, and through the personal testimony of changed lives in this very room!

5. The Invisible God Among Us

“..and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us).

The prophecy was explicit – “God with us”.

Of all the titles and names of the Son of God this ranks very high in my estimation and appreciation.

When Jessica asked me what I would like inscribed on material napkins she was having made for our Christmas lunch, I said, “Immanuel”. To me, this title speaks volumes of truth.

When Isaiah uttered these words under the inspiration of the Spirit, he was not declaring that the Son of God would be known on earth by the name “Immanuel”, but rather that this title would be ascribed to Him, for He was truly God and truly man and “dwelt among us” (John 1:14).

The doctrine of the Incarnation (as discussed earlier) refers to the fact that Jesus was truly God and truly man in every sense.

Scripture repeatedly teaches this fact, and it is essential that we at this time of year pause to consider this awesome reality.

The God of eternity, though rich, became poor for our sakes (2 Corinthians 8:9), entered time and space cloaked in humanity (John 1:14), took upon Himself the form of a servant willingly (Philippians 2:7), lived a life of humility, suffered immeasurably, bore the wrath of God mercilessly, was crucified and died horrifically, buried in a borrowed tomb temporarily, raised to new life victoriously, procured salvation for sinners completely, and will return gloriously.

Do you know my hero? Do you know my Saviour?

Don’t stay at the manger.

Come to the cross, the grave and the resurrection.

The most marvellous message in the world is not a baby in a manger, but that God most high descended to earth in human form, so that He might pay the ultimate price to redeem lost, unregenerate, wicked, sinners.

To God (the “incarnate hero”) be the glory!