I want to ask you to open your Bibles to the third Gospel, the Gospel of Luke, and to read with me, first of all, one verse that we looked at last week, and we continue to look at under this theme, at the manger. Last week we thought of Joseph at the manger, and now we're thinking of Mary. Look to verse 6, and while they were there, that is at Bethlehem, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. Think of it, this young woman with Joseph, here is Mary and Joseph at the manger, and she is giving birth to a baby, her firstborn, where animals are kept. And as this little boy is born in a place where there are animals, he is then laid in a manger in Bethlehem.
The life of this young woman, Mary, over the last few months had been dramatically turned upside down. Is she a young woman, a virgin, engaged to a young man, Joseph, living in a rather insignificant town in Galilee to the north of Israel, had conceived, and now she is giving birth to this little boy, and here she is at the manger. And as the choir reminded us as they sang, we can think of her looking at this little boy being told by Joseph that his name was to be called Jesus, for he would save his people from their sins. Now this birth had been predicted hundreds of years before the event.
We know that from Isaiah who prophesied that a virgin would conceive. And you'll remember from last week that the angel of the Lord had come to Joseph and had spoken to him about the birth. And then Gabriel himself, as we're going to read in a minute, had appeared to Mary and told her again of the birth of this little boy. Humanly speaking, there was plenty of time to get the arrangements made for the birth of this baby. After all, he had been predicted hundreds of years before his birth.
Think of all the preparations you make when you know your baby is about to be born, all of the arrangements medically, and you get that little suitcase ready, and you know exactly what you're going to do when the child is about to be born. So there was plenty of time, we would say, and yet in the sovereign purposes of God, his mysterious purposes of all places where his son, the Messiah, could be born, here they are in Bethlehem. No place in the inn, and so they find themselves in this cave or this little shack, as it were, where there's animals. And it is there that the Lord of glory is born and laid in the manger. Now let's look back to Luke chapter 1 and think of some of the background to how this happened. Luke chapter 1 verse 26. In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary, and he came to her and said, Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you.
And she was greatly troubled at the saying and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God, and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name, Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. And Mary said to the angel, How will this be, since I'm a virgin? And the angel answered her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the child to be born shall be called Holy, the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren, for nothing will be impossible with God. And Mary said, Behold, I'm the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.
And the angel departed from her. We want to think this morning a little more about this young woman Mary, this pure woman. And here Mary, the pure woman, finds favor with God. Of all of the women that could have been chosen, God chooses this young woman that we know as Mary. And he chooses this young woman, who is a virgin, so that the Lord Jesus is going to enter the world in a unique way.
He's going to come into the world in a way that no one else has ever entered it. A virgin shall conceive and bear a son. Now think of this, because of Adam's sin, every single one of us is born a sinner. We are all sinners here. Each one of us has disobeyed God.
Each one of us has failed to do that which we should do in all kinds of situations. How then can a sinless man be born of a sinful woman Mary? Now, please understand that Mary, pure, favored by God, no question, but was not a sinless person. In the great Magnificat, which Tim read, she refers to God as my Savior. Mary needed a Savior.
We need a Savior. She was pure, she was holy, but she was not sinless. So how is a child that is to be sinless, to be born of a woman who is also sinful?
The baby lying in the manger, as Mary and Joseph look at this little newborn baby, that little baby has entered the world guiltless of the sin of Adam. That is why it is so important that we understand that Jesus was born of a virgin. I've heard people say it doesn't really matter.
Yes, it does matter. It is a fundamental of the Christian gospel that our Lord Jesus was conceived in a virgin. That means that Joseph, and the Scripture is very clear, he's excluded as the Father.
No, the virgin shall conceive. Paul, when he writes about the resurrection at 1 Corinthians 15, says this, The first man, Adam. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust.
Isn't that right? How was Adam made? He was made of dust. The first man, Adam, was from the earth, made of dust. The second man is the Lord from heaven.
Totally different. Jesus himself says in John 3 that the Son of Man descended from heaven. Out of great love, God the Father, seeing the predicament that all of us are in, sends his Son from heaven to earth. How is he going to enter time and space? How can the eternal, infinite God, the perfect God, the God who is so large that he can't be measured, he's infinite in size, how can he enter the world? Mary is telling us.
Jesus directly connects with the human race, but doesn't share in the sin of the human race. He's conceived in the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit. Did you hear what Gabriel said to Mary in verse 35 when she says, How will this be since I'm a virgin?
Here's the answer. The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the child to be born shall be called Holy, the Son of God. Here is Gabriel, the same Gabriel that spoke to Daniel 500 years ago, now he's appearing in the little town of Nazareth to this young woman, probably about 14 or 15 years old, and telling her that the Son to be born of her is the Son of God. And Isaiah had said that the unique sign, the unique sign of the birth of the Messiah was that a virgin shall conceive. God's prophecies are always fulfilled. We sometimes wonder how can they be fulfilled to our human reason.
We can't get our minds around some of them, but as Gabriel said, nothing will be impossible with God. How can a virgin have a child? How can a baby? How can a woman have a baby apart from the seed of a man? Answer, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son. And not an ordinary son, special son, and Mary, a pure woman is chosen to bear Emmanuel, God with us.
Do you ever reflect on the virgin birth? The virgin birth was a special and a unique act of the Holy Spirit who achieves by a fresh, creative act the beginning of the human life of the eternal Son of God. Jesus is born of a human mother, but is no human father. Jesus enters the world in a unique way. He enters the world, as it were, through a door marked, no entrance. But He comes, a virgin shall conceive.
This is a unique birth, absolutely unique. And Mary, this pure woman, reminds us then that our salvation comes from heaven. Christmas is a reminder that we can't save ourselves. His name is Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. I remember some time ago a woman telling me that I spoke too much about sin. I wish other churches spoke about sin. If you don't speak about sin, you have no need of a Savior. If you think that you by yourself can achieve entrance into heaven, that you can have your sins forgiven, that you can have eternal life, you're hopelessly wrong. We are all, without exception, flawed human beings. We cannot, let me put it more directly, you cannot make it to heaven on your own. Christmas reminds us that the way of salvation comes to us from outside of ourselves. It's not based on human solutions, human creativity, human endeavor, human ingenuity. None of that can solve our basic problem of sin.
This is why this message is such good news. We live in a world of despair, of emptiness, of loneliness, of frustration, of disappointment. What do we need?
What do you need? Help from heaven, divine help. And this is central to the message of Christmas, that the Son of God descends from heaven and enters into our world in this unique way. Who's in the manger?
What child is this? He's the Savior. He's Emmanuel. He is God with us. Salvation, then, is a supernatural act of God. That's why it's sometimes called the new birth, being born again, born from above. At Christmas, we see God's love in action. We call that grace. And Christmas reminds us, then, that we need a new beginning.
It reminds us of God's love for us, that God has acted, that God sees our problem and has sent us the only solution in His lovely Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. And that's why you must be born again. You can try religion.
You can try your own endeavors. You can try all kinds of things, but you need and I need God's life. You must experience the life of God, the supernatural life of God in our soul. And that life comes from God to us through our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Jesus is truly man. And Mary, this pure woman, reminds us that Jesus is truly man.
Think of this. From all of eternity, Jesus is the Son of God. Now at His birth, He additionally becomes the Son of Mary. The eternal God takes on humanity. So John says in a prologue of his gospel, the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Paul says, great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifested in the flesh. Charles Wesley says, God contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man. You're grasping this, the uniqueness of our Lord Jesus Christ. You say, well I've got my own religion, you've got yours. I'm telling you in the authority of Scripture, the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.
There is none like Him, nor will there ever be anyone like Him. Whereas Adam had a beginning, he did not have a birth. Jesus had a birth, but did not have a beginning.
Understand that, little children? Adam had a beginning, but he didn't have a birth. People ask, did Adam have a belly button?
Well, I don't know, but he wasn't born. How did Adam come into being? God took the dust of the earth and Adam was made. There was a time when Adam did not exist. Adam is not eternal. Adam is a created being. He had a beginning. There was a time when Adam did not exist. God made him. He had a beginning, but he did not have a birth. On the other hand, our Lord Jesus had a birth. We read it, laid in the manger. He had a birth, but he does not have a beginning.
Why is that? Because He is eternally Son of God. He's truly and fully man, and He's truly and fully God. Although He became man, He didn't cease to be what He had always been, which is God. By becoming man, He didn't cease to be God.
Athanasius put it this way. He became what He was not. He continued to be what He always was.
Do you get that? He became what He was not. Man. He continued to be what He always was, God. In Jesus Christ, in the uniqueness of the Christian faith, we have in one person truly God and truly man. And by becoming man, He did not cease to be God.
Think of it. If Jesus were just a man, He would share our need of salvation. If Jesus were only God, He has no point of contact with us. But He is the perfect God-man. That's why Paul says there's only one mediator between God and man. The man Christ Jesus.
The one who is God and the one who is man. Fully divine and fully human at the same time. Born of a woman, born of God, and therefore truly sinless. When He dies on the cross, He doesn't share our guilt as sinners. No, He takes our guilt as a Savior. When we kneel in repentance, He does not kneel with us.
He is sinless. But He takes us, as it were, by His hand and lifts us off our knees as we receive the forgiveness of all our sins. Do you understand the wonder of our Savior? Do you understand the importance of the virgin birth? That the unique way in which the eternal God enters into time and space and Mary, this pure woman, reminds us that our salvation is supernatural and is a gracious act of God. The Holy Spirit came uniquely upon Mary in a very unique sense. Yes, but the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit, must also bring new life to your soul and to your heart. Jesus said, that which is born of the flesh is flesh. That which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel therefore now that I say to you, you must be born again.
Do you understand this? The importance of a supernatural experience with God. God does an impossible thing in our hearts.
He can do that. That this salvation is not something to be achieved, but rather is to be received. It's not something to be worked for, but rather humbly, repentantly received as a beautiful gift of God as He accomplishes through His unique Son our salvation, your salvation. In life sometimes we cry out to people for help and the help doesn't really come because they are in the same predicament as we are. No, for our salvation.
We need supernatural help. I trust at your point in life, whether you're a little girl or an old man, I trust that at some point in your life you've understood that you need help from heaven. That you need a Savior, a supernatural Savior. And you say, as I heard this week from someone, well I'm too bad, I'm too unworthy of God's salvation. I'm going to tell you that you're exactly who Jesus came to save. He came not to call the righteous, not people who think that they're alright in their own religiosity, in their own goodness. No, He came to save sinners. Paul says, I'm the chief of sinners.
And that's exactly the candidate that the Lord Jesus comes to save. It's a gift. Not because you deserve it, you don't. Not because you're a wonderful person with infinite potential. You're wonderful because God loves you. And I ask you if you've never done, to do what millions have done down through the centuries, is to come humbly to this Savior who enters this world in this special way and was born by this young holy woman, Mary, and now stands as the Christ who lived that perfect life, who died for our sins, who is the Savior of the world, who was buried and who rose again according to the Scriptures.
I have to ask you, have you received this salvation? Think of Mary. Think of this young woman, as she has this experience of Gabriel himself coming before her.
You picture it in Nazareth. How does she respond to this young teenager? She responds with worship. She responds with faith.
She responds with humility. She responds with total surrender of her life to the Lord. Once Gabriel explains the situation to Mary, she's willing to do anything for the Lord. She's only about 14 or 15.
And she's able to give this wonderful magnificat. She knows the Old Testament Scriptures. Any 15, 14, 15, 16-year-old girls here this morning, how well do you know your Bible? How well would you have been able to have a prayer like Mary? I know she was filled with the Spirit, but where she knew her Bible. And this young woman, there she is in this unique situation, confused, no doubt afraid.
How can this possibly be? She's in a place of grace, and she responds to the Word of God. She responds to the Spirit of God. She obeys God, and she trusts God for all of her future. What a wonderful word of encouragement Gabriel gives to Mary. For nothing will be impossible with God.
You say, I like that. Well, don't adopt it too quickly, because, don't take it out of its context, it's said to a woman who's pure, who's holy, who's trusting and who is obedient. Don't think, well, I can dream my own dream, and after all, nothing is impossible with God, and He can help me to achieve my dream.
That's not, that's taken totally out of its context. This is true of those whose lives are devoted to Christ. Those like Joseph, as we saw last week, who trust and obey. Those like Mary, who with quiet surrender and humility say, here's my life, I'm totally trusting you.
And when we walk with God, and when we follow our Lord Jesus Christ, it is true that nothing will be impossible with God. Mary is a deeply spiritual person, as I say, who knows her Bible. She's a very thoughtful young woman. When Jesus is born, we read in chapter 2, remember the shepherds come, we'll think of that in a couple of weeks. And the shepherds leave, as it were, and we read in verse 19 of Luke 2, Mary treasured up all of these things, pondering them in her heart. And then later in Luke 2, when the Lord is a boy of 12, he's in a temple and he's asking and answering questions, and Mary and Joseph eventually get him. Some of you will remember the story.
It says of this, in verse 51 of Luke 2, he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them, think of this, our Lord, which is growing up, he's submissive to his parents. And his mother treasured up all of these things in her heart. Do you treasure spiritual truth? Do you ponder the Word of God in your heart? Will you reflect on this message? Will you reflect on these truths, or five minutes after you leave the sanctuary, and your mind is on something else? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were like Mary, that we ponder these things?
This is a deep thinking, young woman. We live in a society that wants simple and instant answers. And if we can't grasp something, we immediately dismiss it, and everything is dumbed down to the bottom line, whether it's in politics or anything else, and even in the church, we can be so simplistically.
I want you to ponder the wonder of the Son of Man, the Son of God coming from the infinite light of heaven into this world. We're often so superficial, aren't we? Seeking, as I say, instant, simple answers, immediate answers, rather than thinking. We as followers of Christ are to be thoughtful people. We are to be thinkers. I'm not saying we're all to be scholars or intellectuals.
No. Mary wasn't a scholar. Mary wasn't an intellectual.
Ah, but she was a woman who think, how couldn't you think? When you realize that there is a God, a God who speaks, a God who communicates, a God who asks us to follow Him and to love Him in all circumstances. Followers of Jesus Christ this morning, do you believe that God can do all things?
Do you? I thought of that this week as I was studying these things. Here we are this year, even at Calvary, we have this huge project of a new school, Calvary Christian Academy that God has brought to us.
Here we are on the verge of another building project and humanly speaking, I think, who wants another one of those? Yet we have to think, whether it's corporately as a church, whether it's as a family, whether it's your business, whether it's you as an individual in your relationships, we just have to think, each of us, don't we? What is God doing? What is God doing in my life? Am I limiting God? Am I trying to manipulate God? Am I making my decisions and then asking God to bless them? Or am I truly seeking God's leading? And as I follow Him, I can certainly say, this is a God who can do all things.
Nothing is impossible with my God. Some of you are in confusion. Some of you have fears. For some of you it's been a tough week.
As you think of the future few weeks, there's fears, there's anxiety, there's worries. I want you, spiritually speaking, to take a deep breath. And I want you, as I close, to pray this prayer, not flippantly, you're not able to pray, don't pray it. But to say what Mary said to Gabriel. I think we have it on the screen.
Here it is. Behold, I'm the servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word.
Are you able to pray that from your heart? Are you able to say, first of all, I'm a servant of the Lord, that my life is surrendered to Jesus Christ? That I believe He is my Savior, He's my Lord, He's God, and I'm going to follow Him for the rest of my life, if you're an authentic follower of Christ.
That's what it means, doesn't it? But then to say, let it be to me according to your word. That my life, Lord, is entirely yours. I'm your servant, I'm in your hands.
I surrender all I have to you. Lead me and guide me. I'm going to follow you irrespective of the cost, irrespective of perhaps my fears and my confusions and my questions. Once I see from your word that this is the path, I'm going to follow you. That's a costly path, isn't it? It's a path of holiness. It's a path of trust. It's a path of surrender. And we're kind of selfish people, aren't we?
No, it's a path like this. That everything I have, my gifts, my abilities, my education, my resources, everything I have is yours, Lord. That's Mary, isn't it? A wonderful young woman.
So young. And yet so mature in the things of the Lord. And as we do that, and as we ponder these things in our heart, we can watch how God leads us. And we can follow the example of a Joseph and a Bijan man. We can follow the example of Mary who is a pure woman. Any impurity in your life? You can't really say, here I am, Lord, and there's impurity. There's immorality.
There's deceit, lies in your life. That's to be confessed. And to be like Mary, an example of quiet surrender. An example of humility. An example, a great example of courage.
This woman was strong, she was courageous. She obeyed God in very difficult circumstances. And she submits to the Lord. Let me ask you to pray with me. If you've never yet trusted Christ, will you do that? Will you look at that baby in a manger, will you come to the manger and say, that baby is God, but then not stay in the manger to see this baby grow into boyhood and to be a young man, a sinless young man, who's the Lamb of God taking away the sin of the world?
And will you come and ask Him to save you and to forgive your sins? And for followers of Christ, may we from our hearts say this, behold, I'm a servant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word. Can you pray that in your heart? Our Father, we come humbly to you. We think of Mary, this chosen vessel, this pure young woman.
What an amazing story. Humanly impossible, and yet with you all things are possible. And so, we reaffirm our faith and trust in you. Some of us here have deep anxieties about the future. There's business worries, there's personal crises, there's health situations, there's bereavements, there's disappointments. We bring all of these to you.
Father, you know all about them. Grant us your peace. As we come and say, nothing is impossible with God. We are your servants, be it to us, according to your word. That's our prayer, Father. And we pray that throughout this sanctuary, many will once again humbly bow to Christ. We surrender all to Him. And we thank you that although the first man was of the earth made of dust, the second man is the Lord from heaven, our wonderful, magnificent Christ. We bow and surrender all that we are and have to Him, and ask for His grace and His love and His joy to be multiplied in this church and in our homes and in our lives, we ask. In Christ's name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-12-05 21:26:42 / 2022-12-05 21:38:25 / 12