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Mary's Astonishing News

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
December 6, 2020 6:00 pm

Mary's Astonishing News

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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December 6, 2020 6:00 pm

In this message from Luke's gospel, Pastor Greg Barkman explains this account of Gabriel telling Mary that she will become the mother of the promised Redeemer.

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Well, it really is no wonder that Christmas is the biggest holiday of the year.

Because it celebrates the biggest event in human history. And it defies the attempts by unbelievers to hide and ignore its true meaning. The amazing truth keeps breaking forth in places both public and private all around the world.

Therefore, the Christmas season is an annual testimony to the advent of the Redeemer. And God's people never tire of hearing about it, of repeating the story over and over again, even as from time to time we learn new insights regarding this marvelous event and this mysterious activity by God Almighty that brought His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world. And indeed it is mysterious and there are elements of it that we cannot understand and will never understand. And yet there are elements that are mysterious that if we will continue to look into the Word of God, we will understand more fully than we have before. Today we take up the account of the announcement of this birth to Mary, the one who was to become the mother of Christ. And I'd like for us to examine this account with investigative questions, like an investigating reporter. And of this account we will ask five questions, when, how, where, who, and what, concerning this astonishing news.

And we take them in ascending order from the smallest to the greatest, though all of them are important, but it is indeed as we get to number four and then finally to the greatest of all, number five, that we delve into the heart of the mystery and the power of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. But we begin with the question, when, that is, when did this news arrive in the world? We read in Luke 1 26, now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, in the sixth month. And here the timing of this event is not tied to a time in world history, though in fact Dr. Luke, the eminent historian, often does that in other places. He's very mindful of how the events that pertain to the life and ministry of Christ relate to the historical time in history. All you have to do is look at chapter two, verse one, and you read, It came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. And that dates it very, very precisely during the reign of a particular Roman emperor, or even more detail in chapter three, verse one. Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, Herod being Tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip Tetrarch of Iteraea in the region of Trachonitis, and Licinius Tetrarch of Abilene, while Annas and Caiaphas were high priests.

The word of God came to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. You get the idea of the detail, the historical precision that Luke sets these events in. But when it comes to the announcement of the birth of Christ, it's not quite that way. It is in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent. The sixth month. And here Luke dates this announcement to its relationship to another event that has to do with another birth, another child, another prophesied birth. In the sixth month, that is the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias.

We read earlier, we didn't read it, but we could have read earlier in verse 24, wrapping up the account of the announcement to Zacharias. Now after these days, his wife Elizabeth conceived and hid herself five months saying, thus the Lord has dwelt with me in the days when he looked on me to take away my reproach among people. Now in the sixth month, you get the connection there, five months after she conceived a child and five months that she kept herself in seclusion. The Bible doesn't tell us exactly why, but many have surmised it's because she wanted to wait until she was showing. And people could tell that God had indeed visited her with a miraculous conception laid in her life.

And now the announcement didn't have to be made verbally. It was observed and known in the community where she lived. But be that as it may, we have now come to the sixth month of that event and that dates this announcement to Mary by the angel Gabriel. And the very dating of this tells us therefore that we should understand the close connection between the birth of John and the birth of Jesus. There is a very important connection that the Bible wants us to understand and Dr. Luke led by the Holy Spirit calls our attention to it by saying that this took place in the sixth month. Mary and Elizabeth, as you know, were close relatives. We learn that later in this account when in verse 36 of chapter one, the angel said, Now indeed, Elizabeth, your relative has also conceived a son in her old age. And later we learn that it was a close enough relative that Mary not only felt free, but even maybe felt responsible to go visit her relative cousin or aunt, whichever the case may be, as she came to the end of her pregnancy. And so there was a close relationship between them.

And furthermore, there are a lot of parallels between them. Elizabeth's pregnancy was unexpected and miraculous, like Mary's pregnancy was unexpected and miraculous, though not miraculous in identical ways. Mary's pregnancy, I guess we would have to say from our standpoint, was more miraculous. But we should not forget that the child that Elizabeth conceived came about only by the miraculous power of God.

From a human standpoint, from a biological standpoint, it was no longer possible. But as Gabriel says in this passage, with God nothing is impossible. And he's pointing, first of all, when he says that statement, he's pointing to the child that was born to Elizabeth.

It was impossible with men, but it was not impossible with God. And likewise, the child that is born to Mary is even, if we could put it this way, is even more impossible, humanly speaking. And yet is no more difficult for Almighty God than it was to cause Elizabeth to conceive in her old age, even as God had caused Sarah, the wife of Abraham, to conceive in her old age many years before. So Elizabeth's pregnancy was unexpected and miraculous, like that of Mary's. Elizabeth's child was John, the forerunner of Christ. And both Christ and his forerunner were prophesied in the Old Testament scriptures. And so these two events are closely linked together, and therefore it is not at all surprising that Luke dates this event. He times this announcement in relationship to Elizabeth, now in the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth.

But we move from the when did this news arrive to the how. How was this news communicated to Mary? And again, looking at verse 26, we realize it came by an angel by the name of Gabriel. Now, in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. The angel Gabriel. I believe there are only two angels that are named in the Bible, Michael and Gabriel. There are innumerable numbers of angels. We don't know how many, but there are, there are myriads and myriads and myriads and myriads of angels, perhaps even more angels than there are people dwelling upon the face of the earth now, which number into the billions. We really don't know.

It's only speculation. All we know is that the angels are an immense host. And all of them serve God, and all of them have assignments. Can you imagine?

We have trouble imagining now. What could there be for anyone to do in heaven? We can understand what there is to do upon earth, but what could there be for anyone to do in heaven?

Well, I can't give you all of the details. I can't make you a list, but I can tell you that there are millions of angels who are busy in heaven serving God and will be busy throughout eternity. And I can assure you, dear friends, that we too will be busy in heaven serving God. We're not going to be sitting on a harp or sitting on a cloud strumming a harp through all eternity.

We're going to be doing meaningful work that we will enjoy, the most fulfilling work that we have ever done in all of our lives we're going to do in heaven. But all that to say, with all these myriads of angels, only two are named in Scripture. They must be two of the most prominent ones, Michael and Gabriel, and Gabriel is mentioned most. These are therefore called archangels because they are of the highest rank, and we do learn in Scripture that the angels have rank. There are those that have greater authority and those who have less, and there are angels that answer to supervisors who answer to higher-up supervisors who answer to higher-up supervisors who answer to archangels who answer to Almighty God.

Can you imagine that? In heaven, the beings created by God are under authority, and it's clearly understood, and they know where they belong, and they know who they answer to. If that is troublesome to you, to have to live under authority and to answer to somebody, you better get used to it because you're not going to like heaven. It's not a bad thing. That's a good thing. The authorities that God has created in this world are not bad things.

They're good things. Now, they don't operate perfectly in a sinful world because every person on earth that's involved in exercising authority is a sinner, and every person on earth who is under authority is a sinner. So these relationships don't work perfectly well like they're supposed to, but even at that, they are ordained by God for our good.

Understand that. That's what the Scripture teaches. So here comes Gabriel, one of the two archangels of God, who served in the closest proximity to God Himself in the very throne of God. He was sent from the presence of the Lord, sent by God. But notice back in the account with Zacharias, verse 19, the angel answered and said to him, I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings.

Gabriel. And the point of this in emphasizing the majesty and authority and high rank of this messenger who came to Mary, the point of all this is to underscore in yet another way, of which there are many different ways, to underscore the high significance of this event. This is of the highest ranking events in the sphere of heaven. I couldn't help but think of the contrast between Gabriel, one of, if not the highest ranking angel who came to bring this announcement, to a lowly woman who was a common lady, a common teenager really, a very low rank on earth, to a city of very low rank on earth, a young lady who was betrothed to a man who was very low rank on earth. Can you see the contrast between the highest rank in heaven that pays so close attention to what's going on here and the lowest rank on earth where all of this is taking place and the high ranking people of earth are paying it no attention at all and even if they were aware of it wouldn't have even given it much thought or been interested in it?

What a contrast. And how can that be? That heaven can be so interested and earth can be so little interested.

I'll tell you how. We are living in a fallen world. We are living in a cursed realm.

We are living with people who are in their hearts and from their very birth rebellious against God. And this shows us the difference in heaven. This is highly significant, perhaps the most significant thing that ever took place in all of heaven. Gabriel comes to make this announcement to Mary.

That's the how. But we come thirdly to the where. Where was this message delivered? And again in verse 26 we are told it was delivered to Nazareth, a small town in Galilee, which we know to be an obscure and insignificant town, probably in those days not much more than a large village and not very significant at all as the world evaluates things. Today I'm told that Nazareth, which still exists, is a town of about 10,000 inhabitants, undoubtedly much larger than it was in Bible days. It is situated in the southern part of Galilee, which is the northern state of the nation of Israel in those days, Judea being the territory in the south, Samaria being the territory in the middle, and Galilee being the territory in the north as it was divided by the Roman government. And Galilee, this town of Nazareth was in the southern part of Galilee and it was surrounded on three sides, west, north, and east by mountains, the highest mountains on the west, pretty high and significant hills all around on the east and the north, but open to the south. But because of its enclosure by these mountains around it, it was even more isolated than perhaps some of the other towns in Galilee. You might think of some of the little towns in a place like West Virginia that are isolated by the mountains, by the topography. It's not easy to get to them. You've got to go over these winding roads and so forth to get to them. And the people there oftentimes tend to be a bit isolated and therefore a little bit, what shall we say?

I don't know if backward is the right word to use, but you know what I'm talking about. They tend to be rather provincial because of their isolation. And that describes the city of Nazareth to which Mary was brought up. She lived there, which Joseph, her betrothed husband, lived there.

He was the village carpenter in that town of Nazareth. But I think, again, the point is that this announcement did not come to a significant place on earth like Rome or Jerusalem or any other influential place, but it came to the little village of Nazareth, largely unknown, not even mentioned in the Old Testament. It's such an insignificant place.

But this is to remind us of the lowliness of Mary and her background and the circles in which she grew up and no doubt given to us to encourage common people to draw near to Jesus. We don't need to be intimidated by the grandeur, the wealth, the prominence, the significance. You know how we are sometimes. We don't feel comfortable around people in a much higher station of life than we are. Many times we feel that way. We feel like we aren't welcome to approach them, to talk to them. They're too high and mighty.

Well, not this one. It comes to Nazareth. All of this no doubt to teach us about the ways of God, who the Bible tells us continually is busy confounding the mighty and exalting the lowly, and this is a reminder of it here. And no doubt this is given to us to warn us not to be enamored with the important people of this world. That becomes a great weakness of so many people that you and I know and ourselves if we're not careful.

We can become starstruck. Oh, that person is famous. That person is wealthy. That person is influential. That person is prominent.

Oh, I wish I could be like that. And sometimes we get all our attention and focus on that instead of things that are far more important. Earthly fame is not worth much, frankly. Somehow we think it is, but it's not. Wealth is not worth much, frankly, in the big scheme of things. What's important?

Well, what's going on right here among a peasant teenager in a lowly village in an obscure place? That's what's important. We need to learn that, don't we? It surprises me sometimes how much people know about all the movie stars. They can name them all.

All the music stars, they can name them all. They know something about all these people and have a hard time finding the book of Hebrews in the Bible. And Gabriel came to Nazareth, a lowly out-of-the-way place. You see, the wealthy, the famous, and the influential seldom understand God. They don't usually know Him. It's possible that sometimes some of them do, but most of them don't know God and aren't interested in knowing God. And furthermore, God doesn't utilize them as often as He does the common people.

They aren't interested in God, and we could put it this way, it doesn't look like God's very interested in them. And Gabriel came to Mary in Nazareth. Well, that brings us from where to who?

We're moving along quickly in our investigation. To whom was this message sent? And now we focus upon Mary, and we learn some things about her. That this angel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, verse 27, to a virgin, betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph of the house of David.

The virgin's name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, Rejoice, highly favored one. The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.

But when she saw Him, she was troubled at this saying and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then 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 bring forth a son, and shall call His name Jesus. 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 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. 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. Now indeed, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is now the sixth month with her who was called barren, for with God nothing will be impossible. Then Mary said, Behold, the maidservant of the Lord.

Let it be to me according to your word. And the angel departed from her. Who? To whom was this message sent? The rest of the account intertwines the who and the what, who the message was sent to and what the message was about, so I read it all, but now we'll go back and take them up one by one.

To who was this message sent? It was sent to one, we are told in verse 27, who was a virgin. That means exactly what we mean by that word today, to a young lady who had never engaged in sexual relationships. It was a virgin, number two, who was betrothed, or some translations say engaged. Engaged would be our term, but the details of betrothed are a little bit different from the details of our engagement today, and therefore it's helpful to know something about the Jewish marriage customs. A betrothal was entered into generally by an arrangement of the parents. Now that doesn't mean that the bride and groom, the man and the woman, didn't have any input into it. Sometimes we think of arranged marriages like that, and sometimes they were that way, but oftentimes it's more like the son says to the father, I've noticed this young lady over here, I'm really interested in her. What would you think of her as a marriage prospect? The parents give their opinion of that. Sometimes the young lady has also realized that the young man has been showing an interest in her, and so she's returning the interest, and she says, I think that Jacob, we'll use that name for the moment over there, is showing an interest in me. I wouldn't be surprised, but what you'll be hearing from his father before long, what would you think of the possibility of that marriage?

There was input. It wasn't totally arranged without any input by the couple, but it was with the wisdom and with the approval and with the arrangement of the parents, which sounds very strange to us today, but I just would stop and ask you with our different customs today, what kind of a record do we have in America for the duration, the average duration of marriages? How well are we doing with our way of doing it? What's our divorce rate compared to theirs? In that day, divorces were very, very, very rare, not impossible, not unheard of. We find some instructions about divorce in Scripture, but a very low percentage of divorces compared to what we have today, and so I'm simply saying don't turn your nose up at this Jewish customary way of doing things.

It may turn out to have been a superior way of doing things. Nowadays, if somebody stays married 20 years, we say, wow, isn't that remarkable? They've been married for 20 years.

What a remarkable thing. In this day, most marriages lasted a lifetime. But a betrothal started out with a promise in marriage between the parents, the fathers of the bride and the groom, and oftentimes these marriages involved a bride as young as 13 years of age.

That was not uncommon at all. The betrothal actually was a legally recognized and registered act. This is what makes it different from our engagement. It was more than an individual and personal relationship and commitment between the two individuals, but actually they went down to the, we would say, city hall before the officials of the city, and they registered their betrothal, and as far as the legality, as far as legal issues were concerned, they are now husband and wife. They're free to now enter into marriage and setting up a household at any time they wish. It's now legal.

It's now ready to go. In fact, from this point onward, the only legal way to change this arrangement is by divorce. Once they are betrothed, they are legally married and can only be legally unmarried by divorce. It was that kind of arrangement. But again, customarily, cohabitation didn't begin until a wedding celebration took place often a year, sometimes even longer, after the betrothal.

Now, it didn't have to. Once the betrothal took place, they could begin this at any time that everybody was agreed, that it was time to go ahead and start living together as husband and wife. But the custom was that they would generally wait about a year. And then there would be a wedding, and the wedding itself would be a family matter. This is no longer a legal matter, a civic matter. That's already been taken care of in our weddings today.

When the wedding has occurred, then the marriage is legalized. I always tell the groom at any kind of marriage that I'm performing, if you don't bring me the license to the wedding rehearsal, there won't be a wedding. Be sure you get it to me. There's a very important legal part here that has to be taken care of. So you be sure you get the license, and you give it to me the night of the rehearsal so I know you've got it. I can tell you about one where they didn't have it, but I won't tell you that.

You'd be interested, but I'm not going to go into that right now. But that's got to be taken care of. And then we have witnesses that sign it. And then it's the officiant's responsibility to get that to the courthouse. And so in our day, the wedding that is the family part, and it relates to the friends and the celebration, is all tied together with the legal part.

And once that has taken place, then it's registered at the courthouse, backwards from the Jewish custom, already registered at the courthouse. And now the family decides when it will be appropriate to have the wedding ceremony, the wedding feast, which actually lasted usually about a week. Which didn't mean that everybody took off work for a week and just partied all day long seven days, but it meant they came back every night.

You'd better have a good sock of food, because everybody's coming to your house for dinner seven days in a row. Or however long you decide, but that would be customary. And in the midst of that week, then the husband and the groom and the bride would begin to live together, and the marriage would be started in this way as far as their cohabitation.

The opposite of the way we do it today. In other words, notice in our day, shamefully, it is far more customary for a man and a woman to live together for a while before they decide whether or not they're going to get married. In this day, it was customary for the commitment to be made first, and for them to be willing to wait on living together until they'd had time to prepare themselves in every way for that financially and emotionally and spiritually, to take it seriously and get themselves ready for this important act of coming together and living together as man and wife, which is going to be their condition for the rest of their lives, maybe for the next 50 or 60 years. It's a serious matter.

It requires a lot of preparation. You say, well, that sure seems like a strange way of doing things. Again, just ask whose way of doing things seemed to work the best. Our way of living together first and then deciding whether or not they're going to get married? That's not producing lasting marriages.

That's the justification. We've got to see if we're compatible first because we want to make sure this marriage is going to work. That might make worldly sense, but it doesn't really work well, as the evidence should show us. Doing things God's way always works better.

So let's have the commitment first and living together second, not living together first and then maybe commitment, maybe not, depending on how things go. I can't help but notice the difference in the way they did it. The passage tells us about this virgin Mary that she was graced by God is the actual language. It's mentioned in verse 28 and again in verse 30. Highly favored, graced by God is the Greek language.

What does that mean? Mary received favor from God. It's amazing how many people will read that phrase. She found favor with God and because of the way people think, the way even Christians think, the cogs of the brain start turning round and what they hear being said is she earned favor with God.

But that's not what it says and that's not what it means. It doesn't say she earned favor with God. It says she found favor with God. She was graced by God.

Grace is unmerited favor. She didn't earn favor with God, but God chose to grace her. She received favor from God.

She did not merit it. She received favor from God. She had no ability to bestow it, as the Roman Catholic Church erroneously teaches that Mary, this means that Mary now, kind of like a junior God, has the ability to dispense grace like God does. No, no, that's not what it's saying.

That's not what the text says. She received favor from God, not the ability to bestow it on others. But it means that God is present and active in her life. And it means in this instance that she was chosen to be the mother of the promised Christ and this is the highest honor that could probably be given to a woman in that day.

The long promised Savior of the world is going to be brought into the world through a normal birth, not a normal conception, but a normal birth. And Mary, of all the thousands of Jewish women who would have loved to have had this privilege, this privilege is the one that God chose to be the mother. There's indication in this passage that Mary is a humble young lady. When she saw him, we read in verse 29, she was troubled at his saying and considered what manner of greeting this was. She was troubled, troubled no doubt by the appearance of the angel. By the way, the angel didn't just suddenly spring, you know, just drop into her living room in a blaze of light.

No? How did he come? Well, it says, it does tell us something about that in verse 30, and having come in. Sounds like he knocked on the door and walked into the home. He wasn't trying to overcome her with his light and glory and majesty.

As far as we know, he looked like another man when he walked in. But nevertheless, this announcement was pretty astonishing to Mary. It was unexpected.

It was sudden. But the real thing that troubled her here seems to be the high honor that has been bestowed upon her, and she can't imagine why she has been chosen for that. To me? I'm nobody.

I don't come from a prominent family. She's troubled by this, and that's a mark of her humility. Furthermore, she's thoughtful about what's going on.

Even though this astonished her, it didn't so discombobulate her that she couldn't think about anything else and just went off in a... as some of us might have done in this situation. But the angel goes on to tell her that she's going to bear a child, and she's able to think this thing through. And she says in verse 34, how can this be since I do not know a man? In the Greek, it's clear this is not expressing doubt that this will take place, but it's a request for information. You're telling me that I'm going to become the mother of a child.

How can this happen since I'm a virgin? Now, that indicates she understood the angel to say this was going to happen immediately. She didn't say, oh, I understand. After Joseph and I come together and start living as husband and wife, I'm going to become pregnant and have a child.

That would be not so amazing. That would be expected, wouldn't it? But she understood the angel was saying this is something that's going to occur before that. Okay? I don't doubt it, but how?

How can this happen in my situation? And, of course, the angel tells her. And when the angel tells her what's going to happen, what's her response? Verse 38, behold the maidservant of the Lord. Let it be to me according to your word. Submissive. Completely submissive to the revealed will of God.

What an example. Now, all of this suggests a good upbringing. We don't really know much about Mary. We don't know anything about her parents. We don't know anything about her economic level.

We would assume it would be relatively low. The fact that she's marrying a village carpenter means that she probably didn't come from a prominent family of wealth. We don't know if her parents were still living or if she was living with relatives. We don't know much about her.

But her response here suggests a good upbringing, which I would think has to point to good parenting and to good relatives and good community, which causes me to wonder if this idea that Nazareth was a rough-and-tumble, wild west-sorted town is probably not right. Small. Obscure. Relatively isolated. Maybe a bit of what we would call a hick town. But it looks like solid people, hardworking people, hardworking, blue-collar people, godly people, concerned people, people who raised their children in the Word of God.

There's a lot of things here that speak well of the family and, I would think, of the community in Nazareth. But finally, we come to the what? We've got to come to the biggest question of all.

We haven't got to the biggest one yet, the last one, number five. What was this astonishing news that Gabriel brought? And there are three things, primarily. Number one, that Mary would conceive and give birth to a son. Number two, that Mary's son would be an extraordinary person. And number three, that Mary's conception would be a unique process.

Let's look at these one by one. First, Mary would conceive and give birth to a son. And she's told to give him the name Jesus, which is a common name in that day. It's the equivalent of the Old Testament Joshua. So there were a number of Joshua's in the Old Testament. And it means Jehovah is salvation.

And in these others that bore this name, there was significance to it and there was a sense in which the name was meaningful. Joshua, the most famous Joshua of the Old Testament, the successor to Moses, led the people of Israel into the Canaan land and was the general of the armies that conquered the Canaanites. And God used him to save the nation and give them the promised land. Jehovah is salvation, a well-named individual, Joshua the leader of that name. So this name, Jehovah's salvation, is appropriately used in a general sense of all kinds of salvation. But in the ultimate sense, it only applies to one person, only one person who is able to save from sin, only one person who is able to rescue people out of bondage to sin and Satan.

And this is the one. Call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins. Mary would conceive and give birth to a son, number two. Mary's son would be an extraordinary person.

In verses 32 and 33, there are a number of things said about him. Number one, it said he will be great, which has the idea of being distinguished among people on earth. He is going to be a person of power. He is going to be a person of wisdom. He is going to be a person of influence, though again not in the most ordinary human ways.

He's not going to be wealthy. He's not going to hold a high earthly office that people will recognize. But nevertheless, he's going to be a personage of amazing greatness and influence, as we know. Nearly everybody else that was considered great in that day has died, and we don't even know their names.

One or two, we know Herod the Great. He's called great. But the name of Jesus, that name has exceeded them all.

That name is known around the world by billions of people. So he shall be great. Number two, he shall be son of the highest, the most high. And who is the most high?

That's God. So he's going to be the son of God. Number three, he's going to reign on David's throne. That means he's going to be a king.

That means he's going to be a great king. That means he's going to be an extraordinary king because at this time David's throne had no occupant. The line of David had stopped. And several hundred years had gone by and nobody sat on David's throne. There were still descendants of David living, but they weren't sitting on a throne.

Rome was ruling Israel, but this child is going to sit upon David's throne. That's said of him. He will be an extraordinary person, but even more astonishing, of his kingdom there will be no end. Name one king, one emperor, one Caesar, one president in history of whose reign it could be said there was no end.

There is none, of course. But of this one, his reign will never end. You talk about great. You talk about extraordinary person. And clearly this can only be describing the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

So what is this astonishing news? Number one, that Mary would conceive and give birth to a son. Number two, that her son would be an extraordinary person. But number three, that Mary's conception would be a unique process, one of a kind.

How can this be, seeing that I do not have, have not had a physical relationship with a man? Well, the answer is given. The power of Almighty God will accomplish this. The Holy Spirit will come upon you.

The power of the highest, that's two ways of saying the same thing. Almighty God will come upon you, will overshadow you. Language, though not identical, is very reminiscent of what we read in Genesis chapter 1 about the Spirit of God who was hovering over the face of the waters and brought about the creation of the world. And now the Holy Spirit will come upon you and will overshadow you. And the result of that is going to be the birth of this miraculous child. The product of this operation of God in your womb is going to bring about a Holy One. Well, that hasn't happened since Adam fell in the garden. No one has given birth to a Holy One. But Mary will. In fact, He will be called the Son of God. This is the Son of God Himself who comes. And to be encouraged about this, the angel says, You know, Elizabeth, your relative, is now six months pregnant, who was barren and couldn't have children. With God, nothing is impossible. Not that Elizabeth's child was more miraculous or even equally miraculous to Mary's, but it just reminds us that God can do the impossible. He did for Elizabeth.

He'll do an even greater miracle for Mary. And that's the explanation. And that's as far as we can go with the explanation. I'm going to suggest a few things in a moment here quickly, but that's as far as we can go. If we delve into too many details, we're going to get ourselves all tripped up.

This is it. God produced His Son in the womb of a young woman and brought the God-man into the world to be the Redeemer of the world. If you have trouble believing that, if you have trouble believing in the virgin conception, a better term than virgin birth, if you have trouble believing in the virgin conception, then, friend, you evidently have trouble believing in Almighty God.

With God, nothing is impossible. If you believe God is Almighty, if you believe God can do anything, if you believe God is able to do the impossible, then why would you have any difficulty believing in the virgin conception? So in summary, this is what we're told about Mary's child. In regard to Christ's body, it's a body of flesh and blood.

The flesh and blood of Mary. It is therefore a descendant of David, a descendant of Abraham, a descendant of Adam. He is a human being through and through. He is our kin, our relative. In regard to Christ's soul, a human being has a soul and a body. What about the soul?

The human soul is created by God like all human souls are created by God, as we read in Zechariah 12 and also a reference in Hebrews that I forgot to write down. But this one, unlike anyone else who has been born, is going to be holy, and that's probably the most mysterious part of all. How do we explain the arrival of a sinless human being who is the flesh and blood of Mary? Now, the way I have explained it in the past, and I think I was wrong, please forgive me, I make this correction for those who've heard me, is that because Jesus didn't have a human father and the sinful corruption is passed down from the father, then Jesus was born without sin. But even that explanation never fully satisfied me because mothers are sinful too.

That may sound right, but if you think it through, it's hard to explain how that happens. Because he had the flesh and blood of Mary, and she was a sinner. Now, the Roman Catholic Church finds a way to explain that difficulty by saying, well, Mary was sinless.

Okay? Then how did Mary become sinless? Did that mean that her parents had to be sinless?

You've got a problem there. They don't say that, but that's not the explanation. What's the explanation? I can't give you all the details, but I think I can tell you this. Part of what the Holy Spirit did in overshadowing Mary was in some way, I don't know how, he sorted out the sinful elements of Mary's humanity so that the child that was born of her flesh and blood came forth completely holy and sinless without any of that Adamic sinfulness and Adamic depravity. That, I think, is the explanation. And any explanations I gave in years gone by, cancel.

I think you've got to go down this road. The result, therefore, in Christ's person is two natures inseparable within one person. God with us. God in us. A truly human body, a truly human soul joined to an eternal almighty God.

Mystery of mysteries, but that's it. And the result is that Jesus Christ is the long-promised Messiah and the only Savior from sin. He is the only solution to our sinful conception and ongoing sinful rebellion against God. And I can tell you that every soul that is troubled because of their sin or concerned and wanting to be forgiven and cleansed of it can go to Jesus Christ, this one provided by God, and receive the cleansing which you need. Shall we pray? Father, thank you for bringing your Son into the world. Turn our hearts to Him, to trust Him fully, to rely upon Him completely, to be cleansed from sin by this one who was given for that very purpose. We pray in Jesus' name, Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-18 12:54:09 / 2024-01-18 13:11:16 / 17

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