Christ Born, But Also Sent Into the World
At this time of year we especially celebrate Christ’s birth, the incarnation. Great Christmas hymns often mention “glory to the newborn king,” “Christ is born” and “the babe, the son of Mary.” We remember too the infant narratives that indeed describe the human birth of the Christ child, as for instance:
- Matthew 1:16: of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.
- Matthew 2:1-4, “Jesus was born in Bethlehem”…”where is he who has been born king of the Jews?” and “where the Christ was to be born.”
- Luke 1:35– therefore the child to be born
- Luke 2:7– she gave birth to her firstborn son
- Luke 2:11– For unto you is born this day
Yet beyond these references, it is interesting to note how elsewhere Christ is described, by Himself and others, in terms so very different from all other people. For instance, we usually refer to a “mother and her child.” Matthew 2, in sharp contrast, several times mentions “the child and his mother.”
Another interesting thing, that I had never thought about before listening to S. Lewis Johnson (something he often mentioned): only once did Christ refer to Himself as having been born. It’s part of our everyday conversation for all of us to say “I was born in “ such and such a year, or “I was born in “ (fill-in-the-blank) city or state location. Christ repeatedly referred to Himself as being sent, as having come into the world. Only once did He say that He was born – in John 18:37, to a Gentile king, Pilate, who would not have understood Christ’s normal language. Even then, immediately after saying He was born, Jesus quickly added “and for this purpose I have come into the world.”
Excerpts from S. Lewis Johnson on this interesting point:
This verse is very interesting … This is the only instance in which the Lord Jesus says that he was born. His characteristic expression is that he was sent into the world or simply that he came into the world. And this is the only time that he said that he was born. And strikingly, of course, he said it to a heathen man. And then quickly modified it by saying, “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world.” In other words, it was characteristic of him to say words that suggested his preexistence. He was sent. And he came. This one time he was born. And of course the reference is to his human nature.
Only once does the Lord Jesus ever say that he was born. Did you know that? Well it’s alright to say that, but only once does he ever say that he was born, and do you know, do you remember to whom he said, he was born? He said it to a man who had no theological understanding at all. He said it to Pontius Pilate. He said, “For this cause was I born,” and then in order to not confuse people like me and like you who were such great theologians, he said, I have a word for you, for this cause was I born and for this purpose came I into the world. That’s the only time he ever said he was born, and it was said to the Roman Curator, Pontius Pilate.