One of the things I really enjoy about church is watching the young boys and girls as they leave their Sunday school and Pioneer Club classes. Many of them will show me the papers they colored or the crafts they made that relate to the incredible stories told in the Bible.
I remember when I was very young my dad gave me a huge children’s Bible with illustrations of the many miracles that God did throughout scripture. I think about the parting of the Red Sea or the collapse of Jericho’s walls or Gideon’s men as they shouted, “The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!” Those stories captured my attention with excitement as I imagined them. However, it was not until I was older that I understood the greatest miracle was not what God did by overruling nature or supernaturally tearing down walls or how three hundred men frightened multiple thousands of Midianites. The greatest miracle was when God became incarnate. The Almighty God who did these things took on human flesh and came to live among us.
I am reminded of the magnificence of this miracle when reading the 91st Psalm. This is a psalm for Jesus with its blessed promises of the Father to protect Him while He made His sojourn among the wicked of this world. None of us can imagine what it was like for Christ to have knowledge of His former exaltation in heaven as He walked in the lowliness of human flesh on earth. In one sense, it must have been a frightening prospect in His humanity as He was daily aware of the extreme hatred of religion against Him.
His first foray in His public ministry was to be led into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. This awful period was a foreshadowing of how difficult the way would be. He was without food for forty days and at His weakest moment, Satan approached with his greatest temptations. It is very interesting that Satan quoted this psalm he dared Jesus to leap from the pinnacle of the temple. Satan asked Him to prove verses 10-12: “There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” These verses are true without the test and Jesus accepted them by faith.
It is also interesting that Satan was selective in his quotations as many that mishandle the scriptures often are. The next verses promise that Christ would tread on the lion and the adder and the dragon, and trample them under His feet. Who can miss that Satan is the roaring lion, the slimy serpent, and the great red dragon of Revelation 12? A little more quotation and Satan would prophesy his own destruction!
Verses 15 and 16 require special attention. Jesus had to go to the cross—this was His mission in the Incarnation. But, He trusted God to deliver Him. He was taunted with that trust as the crucifiers said, “He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him…” Jesus only needed to wait three days for verses 15 and 16 to come true: “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.” Now, He is alive and honored at the right hand of the Father forever.
Yes, the Incarnation is the greatest of all miracles. Jesus did not fear it even though He knew what it would bring. Psalm 91 was for Him—to strengthen Him by the promises of the Word of God. If only we would trust the Word as much!
Pastor V. Mark Smith