Jehovah, Jesus, and Mary

 

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Washington – 12/15/02

As we draw nearer to Christmas, and as we prepare ourselves both externally and internally for the celebration of His coming, our minds naturally turn to thoughts of that wonderful miracle, and it is useful to remind ourselves why it was necessary for the Lord to come in the way and at the time that He did, and how we are to understand Mary’s relationship to Him.

Our text for this morning brings all the elements together: A prophecy fulfilled, the Virgin Birth, and a Son born not from eternity, but in time, whose very name is “God with us.”

Now all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:22, 23)

The central theme of Christmas, or what should be its central theme, is the fact that Jehovah God, the Creator Himself, took on a human form, and was born in the world like any other man. And that inspires us to think about the reason why He came.

The simple reason is that He came on earth in the Human to redeem us. To redeem means to restore and return to one’s self the things that had been one’s own. It is properly used in reference to slavery, death, and evil. By creation, every human being was made for heaven. By choosing evil, we bring spiritual slavery and death upon ourselves. The Lord redeems us by showing us the way out of the slavery of hell, by the path of repentance, reformation, and regeneration, and restores us to our proper heavenly state. He thus redeems us by returning to us the heavenly states intended for us from our creation.

When we speak of the “Lord the Redeemer,” what we are really speaking of is Jehovah in the Human. When we speak of “Jehovah,” we are referring to the Divine Being which was from eternity. We need to clearly distinguish between that aspect of His Divinity from the Human which He assumed in time, which is something different. And finally, by “the Lord” we mean Jehovah in His Glorified Human.

The Word is full of prophecies of the Lord, describing the manner and place of His coming. God also revealed through the prophets the truth that it was Jehovah God Himself who descended and assumed the Human in order to redeem and save mankind. We read from Isaiah:

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel (ISA 7:4)For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (ISA 9:6).

That Jehovah Himself descended and assumed the Human is clearly evident in Luke and Matthew where it is written:

Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (LUK 1:34,35).But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (MAT. 1:20)

A child receives his soul and life from his father, and that the body is from the soul. It should therefore also be clear that the Lord received His soul and life from Jehovah God, and that Mary provided nothing more than the physical body in which God was to dwell on earth for a time. What is more evident from reason, experience, and the testimony of scripture than that the Divine itself of the Father was His soul and life? (See TCR 82)

It was God’s intention to redeem mankind, to bring them back from the slavery of hell and restore them to a state of heavenly order, but He could not do that except by assuming the Human, for Jehovah as He is in Himself cannot come in contact with any devil in hell, or with any devil on earth, to restrain him and his fury, and to curb his violence, unless He were in last things as well as in first. And He is in (last things) in His Human (See TCR 84). For God to approach a man without shielding and moderating His Divine power would be as destructive as it would be if the earth were to approach near to the sun. Unless the Divine were accommodated, and clothed in the material body, it would have destroyed all men, both good and evil, by coming to earth.

God, the Divine Being, dwells above the heavens, outside of time and space. In order to enter into the Human, He had to descend, accommodating Himself to the successive degrees of life; but the easiest way to think of the beginning steps of this process is to understand that Jehovah God descended as the Divine Truth which is the Word.

As the Word passed through the heavens down to this world, it was accommodated to the angels in heaven and also to men in the world. There is thus in the Word a spiritual sense, in which the Divine Truth appears in clear light, and a natural sense, in which the Divine Truth is but dimly seen. Therefore it is the Divine Truth in this word that is meant John’s words, “In the beginning was the Word … and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:1, 14) (See TCR 85)

Once He descended into the world, He began the process of His return, or glorification. It was in order that He should be conceived, carried in the womb, and be born; and that He should be educated, acquiring in due course the knowledge by which He might attain to intelligence and wisdom. …He passed through those progressive states sooner, more fully and more perfectly than others. We read in Luke:

And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (LUK 2:40,52)

And further:

Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. (LUK 2:46,47)

God had sent the Word into the world through the prophets over thousands of years. Each chapter and verse was Divinely inspired and carried within it the information He would need to prepare Himself for the work ahead. In a sense, the Old Testament was an instruction manual for the Lord, containing within its internal sense everything He would need to glorify His Human.

The Human which was sent into the world is also actually the Son of God, because it was conceived of Jehovah God as Father.

We read in Luke:

“He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.” And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” (LUK 1:32, 35)

The True Christian Religion explains:

By the “Son of God” is meant Jehovah God in His Human. By the “Son of Man” the Lord as to the Word. By the “Son of Mary” the Human, strictly so-called, which He assumed. …It is clear from man’s generation that by the “Son of Mary” is meant merely the Human, because the soul is from the father and the body from the mother. For the soul is in the seed of the father, and this is clothed with a body in the mother. (TCR 92)

The soul, which is from the father, is the living human being, and the body, which is from the mother, is not itself the person, but from the soul. The soul alone is life, and alone has the power to collect the substances of the natural world provided by the mother’s nurturing body, and from them build for itself a suitable home.

After death every man lays aside what is natural, derived from the mother, but retains what is spiritual, derived from the father.

The Lord, when He glorified His Human, put off everything derived from the mother, and put on everything belonging to the Father. [As] the false idea that He was the Son of Mary and Joseph, and that His soul was from the mother … began to prevail among Christians as early as the third century. (TCR 94)

Some of the terrible consequences to the Church resulting from the Lord being called the “Son of Mary” and not the “Son of God” are that the idea of His Divinity is lost, and with it all that is said of Him in the Lord as the Son of God.

That He was the Son of Mary is true, but that He still is [the Son of Mary] is not true; for by the acts of redemption He put off the Human derived from the mother and put on the Human from the Father. The steps by which He put off the Human are, in summary, these: a judgment on and reordering of the world of spirits; the establishment of a new heaven, and establishing a new Church (TCR 95).

Consequently the Human of the Lord is Divine, and in Him God is Man, and Man God.

That He put off the Human from the mother, and put on the Human from the Father, which is the Divine Human, is evident from the fact that He never called Mary His mother. This may be seen from the following passages:

And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” (JOH 2:3, 4)And it was told Him by some, who said, “Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see You.” But He answered and said to them, “My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word of God and do it.” (LUK 8:20,21; Cf. MAT 12:46-50; MAR 3:31-35)When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (JOH 19:26,27)

Nowhere in the Word is it recorded that the Lord called Mary “mother,” but instead He called her “woman,” and entrusted her to John as a son, who would care for her as he would his own mother. In other places she is called His mother, but not by Himself. This is also shown by the fact that He did not acknowledge Himself to be the Son of David:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?” They said to Him, “The Son of David.” He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool”‘? If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore. (MAT 22:41-46)

So far, everything we have seen about the way that Jehovah God took on a human form in the world can be easily seen by a study of the plain statements of the Word. But yet we must wonder how all these things effected Mary and Joseph.

As for Joseph, there is no mention of him at all after the Lord reached 12 years of age. Any suggestion of why this is would be pure speculation. We do know from scripture that Mary noted the many strange things that surrounded the birth and subsequent life of her child, and “pondered them in her heart.” (LUK 2:51)

We might be left wondering what conclusions Mary had come to while observing her son’s career, except for the fact that Emanuel Swedenborg was led by the Lord to meet with Mary in the spiritual world. The meeting is described in this way:

It was once granted me to speak with Mary, the mother. She was then passing by, and appeared in heaven over my head, clothed in white raiment like silk. Pausing for a little she said that she had been the mother of the Lord, for He was born of her; but that He, having become God, put off all the Human He had from her; and therefore that she now worships Him as her God, and is unwilling that anyone should acknowledge Him as her Son, because the whole Divinity is in Him. (TCR 102)

Jehovah God, the Creator Himself, created us so that we could live to eternity in heaven. He created us with spiritual freedom so that we could freely choose to live in heaven with Him. And when the human race abused its freedom, and chose evils, still God loved us so much that He Himself took on a human body to fight our battles for us, and show us the way home, by glorifying Himself.

As we listen to the wonderful stories of our Savior’s birth this Christmas season, let us remember that everything that happened, every miracle, was done for the sake of our eternal, spiritual lives. Let us then return His love for us by showing our love for Him by acting from genuine charity and kindness one to another, for inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me. (MAT 25:40) AMEN.

First Lesson: ISA 7:10-17

Moreover the LORD spoke again to Ahaz, saying, {11} “Ask a sign for yourself from the LORD your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.” {12} But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the LORD!” {13} Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? {14} “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. {15} “Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. {16} “For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. {17} “The LORD will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house; days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.” Amen.

Second Lesson: MAT 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. {19} Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. {20} But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. {21} “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” {22} So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: {23} “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” {24} Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, {25} and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS. Amen.

Third Lesson: TCR 94

In the Christian churches of the present day it is customary to call the Lord our Savior the son of Mary, and rarely the Son of God, except when a Son of God born from eternity is meant…. When, however, the Lord glorified His Human He put off everything belonging to His mother, and put on everything belonging to His Father.

…These enormities that have flowed into the church as a result of His being called the son of Mary, and not the Son of God, are, that the idea of Divinity in respect to the Lord perishes, and with it all that is said of Him in the Word as the Son of God; also that through this, Judaism, Arianism, Socinianism, Calvinism, as it was at its beginning, gain entrance, and at length Naturalism, and with it the insane notion that He was the son of Mary by Joseph, and that His soul was from the mother; and therefore that He is not the Son of God, although He is so called.

Let everyone, whether clergyman or layman, question himself whether he has conceived and cherishes any other idea of the Lord as the son of Mary than that He was merely man. Because even in the third century, when Arianism arose, such an idea had begun to prevail among Christians, the Nicene Council, for the purpose of maintaining the Divinity of the Lord, fabricated a Son of God born from eternity. By this fiction the Human of the Lord was then exalted, and with many is still exalted, to Divinity…. Yet what else results from this than the destruction of the entire Christian church, which was founded solely upon the worship of Jehovah in the Human, consequently upon the God-Man? … Amen.

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