Begotten, Not Made
Monday after the Baptism of our Lord
9 January 2017
 
Christ is born in two radically different ways. First, He is eternally born of His Father. We know what it means to be born. We don't know what it means to be born eternally. To come forth from God in an unending process, so that this birth has neither beginning nor end, is beyond the mind's ability to grasp. What kind of birth is not a beginning? Yet we know that Christ both comes forth from His Father and does so eternally. This coming forth from the Father is called a birth. Is He not the Son? Christians have distinguished this unique birth from all others by applying the archaic term "begotten" to it. As Luther put it in his explanation to the second article of the Apostles' Creed, "I believe that Jesus Christ true God, begotten of the Father from eternity...is my Lord." All we can do is to confess this unfathomable truth. This is a truth that would be unknown by us apart from God's gracious self-revelation.
 
Second, Christ is born in time of the Virgin Mary. We know what this birth means. It is to have a beginning; but only a beginning according to the human nature. Christ, because He is eternal, cannot have a beginning; and yet does. The incarnation of Christ is the revelation of the God-Man to us humans. We would not know of the one who is eternally begotten of the Father apart from His birth of the Virgin Mary. The incarnation of Mary is a birth in time that reveals to us sinners the eternal birth of the Son by the Father. The only Son of Mary is revealed as the only-begotten Son of the Father. Luther states this so simply, "I believe that Jesus Christ... born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord." He is born in time of the Virgin to accomplish the mystery of our salvation. The Son has gone forth from God and has been born of Mary for a specific and eternally conceived purpose. For just as the Son was eternally begotten of the Father, Father and Son in the unity of the Holy Spirit always conceived of the accomplishment of the world's salvation.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Hilary of Poitiers
 
"Love for the Father is only possible to those who believe that the Son is from Him. To this the Lord's words bear witness: 'I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.' (Jn 16:26-28). A complete faith concerning the Son, which accepts and loves the truth that He went forth from God, has access to the Father without need of His intervention. The confession that the Son was begotten and sent from God wins for it direct audience and love from Him.
 
"Thus the narrative of His birth and coming must be taken in the strictest and most literal sense. 'I came from God' (Jn 8:42), He says, conveying that His nature is exactly that which was given Him by His birth; for what being but God could go forth from God, that is, could enter upon existence by birth from Him? Then He continues, 'I came [forth] from the Father and have come into the world' (Jn 16:28). To assure us that this coming forth from God means birth from the Father, He tells us that He came from the Father into this world. The latter statement refers to His incarnation, the former to His nature. And again, His putting on record first the fact of His coming forth from God, and then His coming from the Father, forbids us to identify the coming forth with the coming.
 
"Coming from the Father, and coming forth from God, are not synonymous. They might be paraphrased as 'being begotten' and 'being present,' and are as different in meaning as these. It is one thing to have gone forth from God, and entered into a substantial existence by being begotten; another to have come from the Father into this world to accomplish the mysteries of our salvation."

Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity, 6.30-31
John 16:23-33

Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.  Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.  "I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father.  In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf;  for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father." 
 
His disciples said, "Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech!  Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God."  Jesus answered them, "Do you now believe?  Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.  I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world."
(ESV)
Collect for Epiphany
Lord Jesus Christ, You were begotten of the Father from eternity and born of the Virgin Mary to be my Lord. You redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sin, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with Your holy, precious blood and Your innocent suffering and death. I am your own. Let me serve Your kingdom in the righteousness, innocence, and blessedness that you have given to me. Amen.
 
For Karen Moore, who is recover from a broken hip, that the Lord Jesus would grant her a full recovery of health and strength
 
For Jill Stoneburner, that the Lord would continue to be with her as she undergoes chemotherapy
 
For those living darkness and the shadow of death, that they might be enlightened by Christ
Art: DAVID, Gerard  Triptych of Jean Des Trompes (1505)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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