Welcome to ReCreate Ministry. Our mission is making and growing authentic followers of Christ. This time of year is always a challenge, for almost everyone I know. Whether you love it or hate it, it’s still a challenge. For me, this Christmas Eve will be one year since the accident that completely changed my life, and that’s especially hard to deal with. Most of us have had something happen in our lives that changed everything for us. For me, it was a car accident that caused a man to lose his life. For some of you, it’s a divorce, a loss of a job, the news that you or a loved one has a terminal illness. For Frodo Baggins, it was the news that the ring he possessed was the One Ring. The journey he would then have to set out on would change his life forever. Just like Peter Jackson did with the Lord of the Rings movies, we’re going to have a bit of an extended edition message this week, so I hope you’ll join with me as we dig into this beautiful story.
Today, we’re going to look at a story of someone else getting news that would change their lives forever. Our story starts in Luke 1. To give a little bit of context to the story, this all takes place in a time when Herod is king in Judea. There is a couple named Zechariah and Elizabeth, and they have received news that Elizabeth is pregnant with a child, even though Zechariah even asks the angel who delivers the news how this can be because his wife is “well along in years.” Just a bit of advice, guys. Don’t ever refer to your wife as “well along in years.” Probably won’t go well for you. Just saying. So, Zechariah and Elizabeth have found out that they are to have a son, and he is going to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.
We pick up the story in Luke 1:26, and will be going through 1:38 (NIV). Starting in verse 26, it says “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.’”
So, I want to stop for a second, because there’s something I think is important for you to know. The angel Gabriel only spoke to 3 people in the entire Bible. In Daniel 8, he shows up to help Daniel interpret a vision that he has about the end of time. In Luke 1, he appears to Zechariah to inform him that his wife will give birth to a son, who will become John the Baptist, and the last person he appears to is Mary, 6 months later. Every time Gabriel shows up, he delivers incredible messages. Let’s look back at the scripture, starting in verse 34.
“’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth you relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.’ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.” Now, there’s a whole lot to unpack here, but I want us to focus on 3 main things today. The first one is this:
Luke puts a heavy emphasis on the fact that Mary is a virgin, and there’s a reason for that. No one would have expected a virgin to have a child. It’s not something that had ever happened before, nor has it ever happened since. So, why didn’t God choose someone who was already married to give birth to Jesus? Why have it be a virgin? The answer, I think, is quite simple. Can you think of a better way for God to prove His power than in this way?
Another thing to point out is that Mary is highly favored by God. In Luke 1:28 (NIV), Gabriel says to her “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” She is going to be the recipient of a great and special blessing from God. The Greek word used her is xaris, which means the unmerited, undeserved grace of God. It does not mean that she is any greater than anyone else. It simply means that she is a special instrument that God has chosen to use in his amazing plan of salvation. The grace Mary received is God’s presence with her.
Look at how Mary responds, though. V. 29 says “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” Mary goes from being highly favored to greatly troubled. The Greek word used here is the word Siatapaxthe, which describes something thoroughly stirred up, confused, and perplexed. It’s the only time the word appears in the New Testament. Now, I don’t know about any of you, but seeing an angel not only appear to me, but talk to me as well would probably be enough to cause me to need a new pair of jeans, but imagine the way it would make a teenage woman like Mary feel. It would be like an angel appearing to my 14 year old daughter. I can imagine that she would be extremely confused just by the sight of him, but Gabriel goes on to tell her that she will have a special audience with God, which confuses her even more.
V. 30 – 33 (NIV) says “But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” This brings me to my second point.
As we looked at last week, there are several promises made in the Old Testament of the coming Messiah. Isaiah 7:14b (NLT) says “The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means God with us).” Genesis 49:10 (NLT) says “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.” Centuries earlier, God had promised David that his kingdom would last forever. The name Jesus was a Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, which means Yahweh saves, and just as Joshua had led Israel into the Promised Land, Jesus was coming to lead the people to eternal life. In Jesus’ name, people would find healing, demons would be banished, and sins would be forgiven. Even though David’s dynasty had ended four centuries after his reign, Jesus, who was a direct descendant of David, became the ultimate fulfillment of the promise God made to David, and He will reign for eternity.
As we look back at the conversation between Gabriel and Mary, we see in V. 30 that Gabriel understood her troubled mind, and repeated the same words to her that he had to Zechariah before, which were “Do not be afraid.” Gabriel’s message to Mary did not immediately ease her mind. She still wondered how she could be chosen for such a blessing as this baby named “Yahweh is salvation.” She still didn’t understand how this baby could be the new David, king over all Israel, or bear the title of “Son of God.” No other king had such a kingdom, and she wondered who this baby could be. She doubted all of it, but it wasn’t because she didn’t believe in God. She simply couldn’t understand how any of it could happen to her when she was a virgin. A birth announcement to her was simply premature.
In Luke 1:34 – 37 (NIV), we see the continued exchange between Gabriel and Mary. “’How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’ The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” This brings me to my last point.
Mary didn’t understand how she could give birth as a virgin, but Gabriel explained how Mary would become pregnant and yet remain a virgin. V. 35 says “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” These words create a picture of God coming upon Mary and creating a very special, holy baby. The Holy Spirit would work a miracle. The child was to be born through a special miracle of God – the creation of God’s Son in a human womb. Jesus was born fully man, but without the sin that had entered the world through Adam. He was born holy, just as Adam had been created sinless. His sinlessness did not rest on his miraculous birth to a virgin girl, but on the basis of his position with God. Through the birth of Jesus, God himself entered the world in human form.
The title Son of God shows that Jesus had a special role in God’s purpose, and that he is indeed the expected Messiah. The mention of the Holy Spirit gives the name greater significance for it shows that God, through the Spirit, has a special role in creating this child. The connection of “Son of God” to “Son of the Most High” states Jesus’ divinity. Unlike Adam, who disobeyed God,, Jesus would completely obey His Father, which gave Him the authority to absolve the sins of the world. David Jeremiah says “All the Christmas presents in the world are worth nothing without the presence of Christ.” We can rejoice that Jesus came into the world, because through his birth, death, and resurrection, we are offered salvation.
Mary’s was not the only divine miracle. Elizabeth, who was said to be barren, was to become a rejoicing mother as well. Gabriel gave Mary a person to whom she could go for support as she humbly fulfilled God’s will. Elizabeth’s six-month pregnancy verified that God indeed does work in mysteriously wonderful ways. Mary didn’t understand how she could become pregnant when she was a virgin, but she didn’t need to, because it wasn’t her will. It was God’s. She simply had to trust and obey. God did the impossible then, and He continues to do the impossible now.
There are 3 things for us to take away from this week’s lesson.
1. Do not limit God by your thinking or with your actions. He is the most creative being in the universe and often accomplishes His will in ways we might not expect.
2. Take God at His word. Trust God to be true to His promises. He responds to our faith and rewards our obedience.
3. Be patient in this life of faith. Although circumstances may often give us a “false reading”, God’s timing is always right. No matter your circumstances or the consequences of those circumstances, let God work out His will in your life according to His timing.
If I’m being completely transparent, that last one has been difficult for me over the course of the last year. Like Mary, it’s not a lack of faith that I struggle with, but a lack of understanding. This has been a rough year, going all the way back to the accident. Though none of it has made a lot of sense, I will continue to trust that God knows what He is doing. As J.R.R. Tolkien once said “Darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it will shine out the clearer.” I am thankful to all of you who have encouraged me through this ministry, and I pray for each of you every week as I prepare these messages. I pray that God will give me the right words to say, and that these messages would help and encourage each of you in your own walk with Christ.
I thank You today that You are faithful to Your promises. Lord, I pray that You would help us to know that You are not only present in the miracles, but that You are also present in our storms. Father, I thank You that You are the one constant when the winds are changing and the waves are crashing, and that we can always turn to You to right our ship. Be with all of those that are hurting this holiday season. Lord, I know this time of year is hard for so many people. I know that this has been a very difficult year for so many. Some are facing their first Christmas without loved ones. Some are struggling with being alone this Christmas. For some, the burden is financial. They’ve lost jobs or had setbacks, and are unable to do all that they would like for their families. Some even have no home to go to for Christmas. Father, I pray that You be with each and every person over this Christmas season. Give them peace for whatever their individual struggle may be. Most of all, Father, we thank You for Jesus, and it’s in His Name I pray.
Next week, we will wrap up our Christmas series as we look at the Birth of the King. If you are struggling with anything this season, whether it be loneliness, depression, or anything else, please feel free to reach out to us. If you’re wondering what makes Jesus’ birth so special, and why we celebrate it, you can reach out to us. We would love to talk to you about why we celebrate His birth, and what it means to become a follower of Christ. Have a blessed week!!!!!