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The Mystery Of The Baby – 2 of 3

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
December 12, 2023 1:00 am

The Mystery Of The Baby – 2 of 3

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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December 12, 2023 1:00 am

The coming of Jesus in the flesh was the culmination of God’s redemptive plan. But can we understand the relationship between Jesus’ human nature and His divine nature? In this message from Revelation, Pastor Lutzer explains three figures of speech that depict Jesus in all His fullness. What did Jesus say about Himself?

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Mary was given the high honor of being the mother of Jesus the Messiah. She raised her son from infancy and then had to watch as he was put to death for the sins of the world. Her destiny was predetermined, yet she obeyed the call of God without question. Today, more lessons from the life of a remarkable woman.

From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, Mary was highly favored of the Lord. Is it possible for any of us to be so favored, or was that a unique blessing just for her? David, I'm going to answer that question. I want to nuance something.

On the one hand, yes, it was unique, because after all, she was given this special assignment. But there's one place in the Bible where the same phrase is mentioned, and that's in Ephesians chapter 1, where the Bible says that we are highly favored, we are graced in the Beloved One. So we also have those privileges. And we here at Running to Win are so delighted for the opportunity of sharing the good news of the gospel around the world, and we can do it because of people just like you. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner?

If you've been blessed because of this ministry, would you help us consistently with your prayers and your gifts? Here's what you do. Go to RTWOffer.com. That's RTWOffer.com.

Of course, when you're there, you click on the endurance partner button, or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. Help us get the good news of the gospel to millions of more people. First thing that happens here is Mary receives favor from God by a sovereign choice on God's part. Secondly, she also receives something else, and that is a miracle from God. You'll notice that when she receives this word, it says that she says in verse 34, how will this be since I am a virgin? She doesn't argue about whether or not it will be, but just simply how will it be?

She's trying to figure out how can this be that I can give birth to a son? And you'll notice what the angel said. The Holy Spirit will come upon you. The power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And your relative, Elizabeth, is also going to give birth, and notice it says in verse 37, for nothing will be impossible with God.

The power of the Most High will overshadow you. This is actually terminology that is used in the Old Testament when it speaks of the Shekinah glory coming to the tabernacle. For example, in the 40th chapter of the book of Exodus, it says that, and the glory of the Lord overshadowed and came to the tabernacle. In effect, Mary is going to be the holy of holies in which this child is going to be conceived. Martin Luther used a very vivid figure of speech when he said that Mary's body was the workshop in which the incarnation was going to be fashioned. Right there within you, the Holy Spirit of God will overshadow you, and a child will be born. This, of course, is a reference to what is known as the virgin birth, that Jesus would be conceived not by Joseph, but by God himself.

And the reason is given. It says here that the Holy Spirit will come upon you, therefore the child to be born will be called holy. The reason for the virgin birth is to preserve the sinlessness of Jesus, to help us to understand that Jesus was indeed divine.

Joseph and Mary together could not have produced a divine child. Maybe you're here today and you doubt the virgin birth, and you think to yourself, well, I can't accept that. There have been some who have written books trying to show the similarity between the virgin birth stories and the pagan myths of mythology that speak about supernatural births, such as, for example, Alexander the Great, supposedly his mother conceived when she swallowed a pomegranate. And in mythology, you have all kinds of gods having sexual relations with women. Notice that this story is not similar to that.

It is radically different than that, radically different. Because what we have here is an account that is bathed in holiness, and the early church would have never accepted the myths and the pagan ideas that swirled around them. And if you have difficulty with a virgin birth, the real answer is that you have difficulty with God, because you'll notice it says in verse 37, nothing is impossible with God. Looked it up in the Greek text yesterday and discovered that actually literally it means at the word of God, nothing is impossible.

I love that. At the word of God, nothing is impossible. At the word of God, the heavens were created. At the word of God, the will of God is done. At the word of God, nothing is impossible. So if you doubt the virgin birth, you are having a problem doubting God and his ability to do this, which had to be done if Jesus was to be a divine child. Notice also that Mary then is going to say, let it be according to thy word.

At the word of God, nothing is impossible. Let it be according to thy word. So Mary was destined, first of all, to find favor with God. She was also destined to receive this great miracle from God.

And she was also destined to receive a mission from God, which was a mission of suffering. I'm only going to refer to it very briefly, but in Luke chapter two, Jesus has been born. They take him into the temple, Mary and Joseph do. And you'll notice that in the temple, Simeon has this prophecy. I wish I could read it all, but I'll simply pick it up for you there in verse 34. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother, behold, this child is appointed for the fall and the rising of many in Israel. And for a sign that is opposed that will be spoken against as one translation says, and a sword will pierce through your own soul also so that the thoughts from many hearts will be revealed.

Wow. You think of the sword that Mary endured. God says, Mary, you're going to have a son, but with the son is going to be a sword that is going to pierce your heart. She was a woman who was called by God to suffer, called by God to suffer.

No question about it. I mean, just think she leaves Bethlehem and they go into Egypt because of the dream and the revelation God gave them about Herod's intentions. And then she hears later that about 20 or 25 children in the environs of Bethlehem are slaughtered.

All those who are two years of age and younger, all boys that age are killed by Herod. And she knows it's because of her son. She knows that they died because she had a special baby that Herod was trying to get rid of. And then as she grows up, you have the whole problem of how the knowledge begins to spread of the origin of this child. And she begins to understand the suffering. And then she sees her son being so steadfastly rejected, see him spat upon. And then eventually she goes to the cross and at the cross, her own heart was split in two. Artists who draw pictures of Mary with a white lily to show her purity ought to take that lily and stain it in blood because of her pain.

God says you get a son, but with the son comes a sword. Well, that briefly is the story of Mary. Why should we be changed forever because we've listened to this story?

What is the take home? Why should you today, having come here, leave today transformed by God's power because of Mary's story? Let me give you very quickly some lessons that jump out of the text to us. First of all, there is a lesson in suffering, isn't there? A lesson in suffering. When God breaks into our life, oftentimes it is a breaking that causes a great deal of us rearranging our lives. It causes us pain. And I believe that there are some people whom God has specifically called to suffer. Some people who go through one tragedy after another, it may be a health issue.

It may be a relational issue. But that also is part of God's calling. The calling of God has its good and optimistic side, but it also has its challenges. And Mary is there to remind us of that. But there's another lesson and that is the lesson of obedience. The lesson of obedience. You'll notice that the text tells us Jesus is going to be born and you'll notice that Mary says, Lord, I am your handmaid.

Verse 38, let it be to me according to your word. The word servant, which is translated here servant, actually means handmade. And it's the lowest form of a servant of a female slave.

What Mary is really saying is God, whatever, whatever it is that you want, I'm here for it. The role of a servant is to ask one question in the morning. How can I please my master? There are not two agendas in the life of a servant. The servant does not say, how can I do my own thing? How can I also please my master? What she is saying is, Lord, I want to be your servant. Whatever you want, whatever you want is fine.

I accept. You know, sometimes we've so romanticized the story, we forget that these were real people in real situations and they couldn't see all of the things that we do today with the writing of the New Testament, because obviously it hadn't happened. Put yourself in the shoes of Mary for just a moment. The angel comes and tells her this, now she is engaged to Joseph. And in those days an engagement was as strong as a marriage.

That's why they're already called husband and wife, but they had not come together. The marriage had not been consummated, but they were engaged and that will cause the problems that Joseph will have as to what to do to her and to what I have done to her, as we'll notice in the next sermon in this series when we talk about Joseph. So now Mary receives this revelation from an angel and she has to tell Joseph, Joseph, I'm pregnant. An angel came to me and told me that I'm going to give birth to the Messiah. You will not be his real father. You are going to adopt him, aren't you? Aren't you going to care for him as if he were your own Joseph?

I mean, imagine, do you think he believed her the first time she told him that? And so she's in the middle of all these things that she has to be thinking about, but at the end of the day, she chooses the path of obedience and says, let it be according to thy word. Well, what a statement. You know, it's interesting that the apostle Paul in the New Testament also says, I am a slave of Christ.

There was a man who had a t-shirt and it's a pretty good t-shirt, I think. At the front it says, I am a slave of Jesus. And then as you look at the back of the t-shirt that he was wearing, it says, and whose slave are you? We are slaves to something, aren't we? We may be slaves to ourselves. We may be slaves to our own lusts, slaves to our own desires, but we're all slaves. The apostle Paul says in the sixth chapter of Romans, we are indeed slaves either to righteousness or to unrighteousness, either as servants of God or servants of our own desires and our own agendas. But we're all slaves in that regard. And Mary says, Lord, let me be your slave.

Whatever you want is fine. Calvin Miller, who has written many interesting things, wrote on the issue of what it is like to be living with the desire of pleasing God only, to live in the pleasure of God, I think is what I intended to say. And he uses Brother Lawrence as an example.

I don't know how many of you have read the book by Brother Lawrence, and I read it many years ago. Brother Lawrence was a monk who just lived for God. Everything that happened in his life, he was thanking God for. It did not matter how difficult, how painful, how menial, nothing mattered. He constantly was giving thanks to God.

So this is what Calvin Miller says. He says, Brother Lawrence scrubbed pots in a monastery kitchen. He did not glory in the scrubbing as a way to praise, but he did glory in such mundane work as an opportunity to praise. The grime of his hands was not the goal for it only distracted his hands, leaving his heart free to continue to sing its praise to God and before the throne of God. His menial work afforded him singing room at the throne of God.

Thus there was nothing that could prevent him from continuing to appropriate the power of God's pleasure. Then the pleasure of heaven brought joy to the dishwater and the marriage of pleasure and joy elevated his living. How often I have discovered that the church is full of frowning saints.

I can only surmise that we have missed Brother Lawrence's path to pleasure. We have begrudged the scrubbing of pots as a hell to be escaped rather than a heaven to be enjoyed. In the larger context, Brother Lawrence scrubbing joy becomes a way of life to all who cherish the gifts of the spirit.

They are the scrub work of God. You see, that's a life lived in obedience. At thy word, nothing shall be impossible. Lord, let it be according to thy word.

What area of your life today do you struggle with that you chafe against? You fight against it and yet it's been destined by God for you and there you are unwilling to accept it, fighting against things that you know you cannot change, circumstances that are way beyond you and you refuse to see God in the midst of it. Mary said, though it is difficult, let it be according to your will.

There's another lesson and that is a lesson regarding God's acceptance of us. Now you'll notice in the text it's a very famous phrase. The angel comes and says, hail favored one.

My translation says, greetings old favored one. The Lord is with you. Hail Mary is of course a very famous and popular phrase. The Lord is with you.

You are highly favored. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were Mary? Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were to hear God say to us, we are highly favored? The Greek word actually is taken from the word keras, which means grace.

The verb form is keratol, that is to be graced and it has a prefix which emphasizes it. Maybe I could translate it roughly like, God is here to begrace you. You are begraced, Mary. We say to ourselves, that would indeed be wonderful if God were to say that about us, but actually he does. In Ephesians chapter 1 verse 6, the Bible says that we are begraced.

Same word, same prefix. We are begraced in the beloved one. Because of Jesus, we receive the same grace that Mary received.

And because of that, we can rejoice. Mary herself needed to be saved. In the Magnificat she says, I rejoice in God my Savior. She was a sinner like the rest of us, needing redemption. And the son that she bore, as the song says, the son that she bore also delivered and saved her. And it saved finally all those in the Old Testament whose sin was deferred until the coming of Jesus Christ. And saved us as well if we believe in Jesus.

That death on the cross was a death for all who believe. And Mary was a part of those who needed the redemption that her son brought to the world. And so here we have Mary, yes indeed, highly favored of the Lord.

But today I can say to you as a believer, you too are highly favored of the Lord. And the same grace that saved her and gave her forgiveness and a good standing before God is the very same grace that saves us and gives us the same standing in God's presence. All because of her beloved son.

It is through Jesus that redemption came. So we can be thankful for Mary. We can be grateful that she received grace.

We can also be grateful that because of her son we too can be graced. Perhaps the best way to illustrate this is a painting that is very famous by Matthias Grunwald. This painting is one that hung in the study of the famous Swiss theologian Karl Barth. And in the painting Jesus is dying on the cross. He's hanging there on the cross. John the Baptist is there and is pointing people toward Jesus. But Mary is there too as is also John the Apostle. And Mary is praying to Jesus.

Because she knows that her redemption also is being purchased at that moment. So Mary is one whom we honor. We do not pray to her. We pray to her son and we receive from him the same blessings and the same grace and the same mercy that she herself received. It is that Mary whom we honor.

The Mary who understood that because of the divine child redemption would come to all who believe. So I have a question for you today. Have you trusted the divine son? I do not mean simply do you know about him? Because I know you do. Do you admire him?

Because I'm sure you probably do that as well. But the other question is have you trusted him for the redemption that he came to bring? It's an individual decision. Your parents couldn't make it for you because you were baptized. No one else can interfere with that decision except God and you as you respond to the good news of the gospel. Let's pray together. And so father today we do want to thank you so much for Mary.

We thank you that this dear young woman was willing to say let it be according to your word. Oh father we pray. Grant us the same faith. Grant us the same obedience, the same yieldedness to accept your will that which you have chosen for us.

And now if you're here today and you've never trusted Christ as savior, you've never believed on him. Why don't you even where you are seated say Jesus be mine. I want to receive the redemption that Jesus came to bring. The forgiveness of sins, the reconciliation with God.

You talk to God if God has talked to you. Hear our prayer oh Lord God we pray in Jesus name. Amen. Amen. My friend nothing delights us more than when we hear stories of people who have come to saving faith in Jesus Christ as a result of this ministry.

If you've never received him, do that right now through repentance and faith. I'm holding in my hands a letter from a woman who connected with us here at the ministry. She said I was very confused tossed from side to side by various cults. And then she says her radio came on unexpectedly.

I find that interesting. She said I started listening every day and came to believe what Jesus said that no one comes to the father but by me. Your teaching has helped me with my anxiety and my understanding of God's word. My friend today you are a part of this ministry. These testimonies are your testimonies because of your faithfulness. We want to thank the many of you who connect with us regularly.

Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts so that we can continue to expand this ministry in various countries. Here is what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com. When you're there, you click on the endurance partner button or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

During this Christmas season, as you're thinking about giving, the end of the year is just around the corner. I trust that you will consider a gift to the ministry of running to win. Once again, let me give you that contact info and there are those who are listening who will want to become endurance partners.

Go to rtwoffer.com. When you're there, you click on the endurance partner button or as I've mentioned before, you can pick up the phone and call us at 1-888-218-9337. Thank you to the many of you who are a part of the Running to Win family. Together as we pray together, support each other, we're making a difference. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. He goes almost unnoticed in the pages of the Bible, yet Joseph did play a part in the life of Jesus as well. Next time on Running to Win, Erwin Lutzer will focus on Jesus' father, a look at the legal father of Jesus and how his obedience to God makes him a role model for us today. Plan to join us then. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-12 02:33:20 / 2023-12-12 02:42:03 / 9

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