Second, His conception was wonderful. We speak about the virgin birth when it’s more appropriate to speak about the virgin conception because, humanly speaking, there was nothing unusual about His birth. It was the conception that was miraculous. Every other single person who has ever walked upon the face of this earth has been conceived in a natural way by a human father and a human mother. Jesus Christ, according to the gospel accounts, was born by a virgin conception, without the normal involvement of a human father. Matthew tells about it in the first chapter, as the angel came to explain to Mary what should happen. Luke tells about it in greatest detail, as he unfolds Mary’s story. It is interesting that although Luke’s gospel is a marvelous example of Greek literary style, the first chapter is different. Luke got this from a Jewish source, and when we begin to ask what that source was, perhaps one of Luke’s sources for his account of the events leading up to Jesus’ birth was the virgin Mary herself.
We talk about our Lord’s conception and we say, yes, His name is Wonderful, for our Lord’s divine nature is wonderful. Jesus was a true man; we confess that and we confess it gladly because He became like us in His humanity. He identified with us in all of the sufferings that we know. The Bible says He became like us in every respect, except in the fact that we are sinners and He was sinless.
Not only was His perfect human nature wonderful, arising from the virginal conception, but, thirdly, His divine nature was wonderful. The testimony of the Scriptures from beginning to end is that Jesus was God every bit as much as He was man. That’s a marvelous thing considering the religious origin of the gospels. If the gospels were written from a Greek or Roman perspective, the idea of an incarnate deity might be compatible. Their mythology was filled with ideas of half human, half divine creatures.
But the gospels, instead, were written from a Jewish theological position, which was firmly committed to belief in one God (Deut. 6:4). This explains why Saul, later renamed Paul, considered Christianity a heresy before his conversion. To claim that Jesus was God, as the early Christians did, in Saul the Pharisee’s view destroyed the biblical teaching that there was only one God, Jehovah, who alone had redeemed His people from slavery and revealed Himself to the nation of Israel. Paul, as we know, in his early days as a Pharisee went about trying to stamp out these truths concerning Jesus in every possible way. But Paul, trained in Jewish monotheism, through his personal encounter with Jesus Christ, came to understand and believe that Jesus cannot be explained on the basis of humanity alone. He really was God incarnate, and thus was a perfect union of God and man.
When you begin to think of who Jesus Christ was on the basis of His teachings, you really don’t have very many choices. You can’t simply call Him a good man, because if He wasn’t God, but taught that He was, then He was not good because He was a liar and a deceiver. But if that is all He was, would He have been able to fool so many people, beginning with those in His own day—even religious leaders—and continuing down to our own time? If He had promised eternal life to those who believe in and follow Him, when He knew He was misleading everyone, does that explain this one whom the Scriptures call Wonderful?
Another possibility is that He was crazy, thinking that He was God when He really was not. If you think that Jesus was out of His mind, you do have other historical examples of people who had exalted ideas of themselves because they were not quite in their right mind. But you have to honestly wonder as you read the gospels if Jesus speaks and acts as one who is out of one’s mind. Was this a man who had lost His balance? On the contrary, what we find in the gospels shows that Jesus was undoubtedly the sanest man who ever lived. The only other option, which of course is the correct one, is that Jesus really was God, as He claimed to be.
The early Christians and the writers of the New Testament were right. Jesus was wonderful, not only in His humanity, but in His divine nature as well. We have it in a little verse that one of our poets has given. It captures the wonder of the incarnation:
Welcome, all wonders in one sight! Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night, Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Blessed little one, whose all-embracing birth lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.