Gabriel had seen countless miracles throughout the previous centuries. Gabriel had watched at the dawn of human history as the Word of God spoke into existence with spectacular colors, more than a hundred billion galaxies, we think.
That's all there is. He had watched God craft a man out of dirt and his bride out of one of his rib bones. Mary, nothing will be impossible with God.
I've seen it with my own eyes. In the Christmas story, the angel Gabriel spoke to a young virgin named Mary. He delivered some remarkable news.
In fact, the most remarkable news in history. The God Gabriel served and worshiped in heaven had now become a human. Jesus was a fetus in Mary's womb.
Today on Wisdom for the Heart, Stephen Davey continues through his series called Christmas Cousins. There were two babies in two wombs, John in the womb of Elizabeth and Jesus in the womb of Mary. And something remarkable happened when those two babies came into proximity with one another.
Well, we've been introduced in the last couple of weeks to a couple in their 80s who, instead of shopping for things that you would expect them to be shopping for, stuff that would work well with their retirement on the family farm, they're instead planning a baby shower. You see, Gabriel has appeared and his message has literally blown their minds by the supernatural power of God. They're about to become parents for the very first time well into their 80s.
They're going to have a baby boy and not just any baby boy, right? They're about to become the parents of the first prophet to speak to the nation Israel in 400 years. Now, if you were with us in our last session, you may remember that Zacharias didn't believe the angel. The angel came, met him in the holy place, said, Zacharias, you and your wife are going to have a baby. And so he asked for a sign, which I thought was interesting. An angel appears from God with a message and Zacharias asked for a sign from God. But Gabriel agreed with Zacharias' demand for a sign and said, okay, here it is.
You're going to represent your nation. You're going to be unable to speak or hear because of your unbelief until the baby is born. With that, Gabriel disappears into thin air.
He just turns the world upside down and then poof, he's gone. Dr. Luke, the physician, gives us the details in the first chapter of his gospel. So if you have any Bibles, turn there to that text again. And this time I want to jump ahead as Luke leaves Zacharias and Elizabeth as he shifts the spotlight onto the cousin of Elizabeth, young Mary. And I want to, for the sake of time, jump right to the announcement of Gabriel to Mary in verse 31.
So if you look there at verse 31, behold, look, Mary, he says, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son. You shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the son of the most high. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will have no end. Gabriel just backs up the prophetic truck and unloads. He makes eight predictions in what I just read, at least eight.
The first five will take place in a matter of months. Mary, you will conceive in your womb. You'll bear a son. You'll name him Jesus.
He will be great. He will be the son of God. Those five prophecies will be fulfilled in the first coming of Christ. But there are more prophecies that Gabriel introduces to her.
Three more. One, God the Father will give to God the Son the throne of David his forefather to reign upon. He will reign over Israel forever.
And, in fact, he'll reign over everything and everyone forever. Eight rapid fire, centuries sweeping, kingdom coming prophecies that bottle the mind, that begin with her pregnancy, and end with the eternal state. Gabriel just unloaded the wagon. I think it's interesting that Mary got stuck on the first prediction.
You're going to conceive. I don't think she heard anything Gabriel had to say after that. In fact, her first response will be exactly, to some degree, the same vocabulary as Zacharias. Verse 34, Mary said to the angel, first word, how? How?
How can this be since I'm a virgin? You remember Zacharias' response? We studied it last Lord's Day if you were with us. Zacharias said to the angel, look back at verse 18, love that text.
Zacharias says to the angel, how shall I know this for certain? For I am an old man and my wife. He catches himself here. He doesn't say she's an old woman. She's advanced in years. She's mature. So you need to give me a sign.
How are you going to pull this off? Now Mary responds with the words, how? I'm a virgin. The angel gives the discipline of God to Zacharias, but not to Mary. I find it interesting that God holds Zacharias to a greater accountability. He's a veteran priest. He spent his life studying the word. He knows better. He's knowledgeable of the history of Israel. He knows the covenant came. He knows it was confirmed when an old couple had a baby boy.
Abraham and Sarah, if God did it with them, he could do it again. He had no business asking, how are you going to pull this off? In fact, he says in his language, I need a sign. But you need to understand he's asking for a sign of his unbelief, what he's effectively said. So Zacharias is disciplined and Mary is not.
You see, here's what's happening. Zacharias doesn't believe the promise. Mary doesn't understand the process. For Zacharias, it's really an issue of theology.
For Mary, it's an issue of biology. And so Gabriel here, in the kindness of God, provides some insight. Look at verse 35. The angel answered and said to her, the Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. That word, overshadow, is the same word used by Matthew, Mark, and Luke to describe the cloud of God's presence that settled over the mount of, what we call the mount of transfiguration, where Jesus was briefly revealed as he pulls back the curtain and reveals his glorious, brilliant deity.
Matthew records it in chapter 17, Mark in chapter 9, and Luke in chapter 9. It's also the same idea of the Old Testament description of the cloud that covered the tabernacle when the tent was filled with the glory of God, Exodus chapter 40. Mary, you're going to be overshadowed with the presence of God.
Well, that explains it to some degree, but we still don't understand it, do we? Ladies and gentlemen, there are many things in this book I do not understand but I believe because the Word of God is true. So Gabriel then kindly, graciously provides, in verse 37, what I believe to be personal commentary. It may not even be part of his message, but he's just going to tell her on a personal note, by the way, Mary, nothing will be impossible with God. In fact, literally translated, no word of God is impossible.
Nothing that God says is impossible to have fully, clearly, precisely fulfilled. Now, Gabriel here in verse 37 is not just quoting a great verse for us to memorize later. He is speaking as an eyewitness. And Mary responds wonderfully. Verse 38, she basically says, okay, here I am.
I'm all yours. She's effectively saying, I'm going to present my body to God a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable. It's the most reasonable thing I could ever do in my worship of God. Now, what Gabriel says next is gracious. The Word of God is going to condescend to match the heart and the experience of a girl who's probably no more than 15 or 16 years of age. Look back at verse 36, what Gabriel has said. Look, Mary, even your relative, Elizabeth, has also conceived a son in her old age. Wonderful things are happening, unexplainable things. She, who is called Baron, is now in, she's six months pregnant.
You should see her. See, Gabriel just so happens to drop Mary's cousin's name into the mix. Here's what I believe is happening. I believe Gabriel, in the grace of God, is hinting at what she'll pick up on. He's saying, Mary, you need somewhere to go.
And you need to go there soon. Your reputation, as Mary, I'm sure, understood, is about to be destroyed. You're unmarried and about to show. In fact, as soon as Joseph hears the news of your expectancy, he's going to assume what everybody else will assume, and I'm going to need to visit him in the night to keep him on track. And we've studied these cousins thus far in this incarnation story in light of their world and their lives. For Elizabeth, keep this in mind that the news of her pregnancy will end her shame. The news of Mary's pregnancy will begin for her a life of shame. For Elizabeth, the delivery of this boy is going to sweep away the dust of suspicion that has daubed her heels for at least 50 years.
Her inability to conceive, as we've already discussed in this series, was tantamount to the Abrahamic covenant that was tantamount to God's displeasure, not in the new covenant where we are today. Her pregnancy then will end her shame. It will restore her reputation. But for her cousin Mary, her pregnancy will destroy her reputation. She's going to begin a life of shame.
She's going to live under the clouds of suspicion. People will assume that she is certainly under the displeasure of God. In fact, when Jesus introduces himself in ministry, the religious leaders throw that back at him and they basically say, Your mother was sexually immoral.
They say to him, look, we, unlike you, we were not born out of fornication. She never lived that down. Can I pull off on the side of the road just long enough to make a point or two about how serving God for one woman is about to become an extremely joyful thing and serving God for another is about to become a very painful thing? Elizabeth's world is about to be put together. Mary's world is going to fall apart.
She and her husband are going to end up on the run for their lives, for the life of their little boy. Death will follow the announcement that he's going to be born. I can't help but wonder how many of us will serve Christ as long as he puts everything together. How many of us will serve him when things fall apart? Mary's world is about to become very confusing and it's going to be filled with accusation and suspicion and gossip.
These events are going to be the talk of the town. Mary is expecting out of wedlock. And do we really know who the father is? Even Joseph won't say he's the father. I mean, what's with that? Who's the baby's father?
Some have said that Mary has said that it's God. No, that takes the cake. I mean, this is a delicious scandal and everybody is going to want to take a sip. It's going to be on the cover of every tabloid and every checkout lane of every food line.
I mean, you can see it all when you go to buy groceries. You can read about it. You can hear the headlines now. Mary is expecting Joseph not the father. You know, exclusive interviews with Joseph inside. Mary's wedding postponed. Mary rumored to be expecting and missing.
Where is she? Mary knows that her family will be outraged. Her father will be shamed.
The rabbis will be incensed and she may very well be in physical danger. And that's the grace of God to Mary here. Gabriel isn't just name dropping favorite cousins of Mary. This is more than, well, you know, your cousin Elizabeth is expecting a baby. Isn't that wonderful? Baron now expecting?
No, it's more than that, ladies and gentlemen. Gabriel is giving Mary information that ultimately provides for her some hope and some security and some training and some safety and some understanding and clarity. Gabriel is saying, Mary, you need somebody who understands what it means to live under a cloud of suspicion.
I have somebody in mind. You need to learn from someone who learned how to keep serving God in spite of tongues wagging and fingers pointing and suspicions following accusations of shame. Here's what I think, and this is in between the lines and I could be wrong, but I believe that Gabriel is giving Mary the name of the only person on the planet who at this moment can understand her, who can train her, who can teach her, pray with her. And so it isn't really a surprise that the very next phrase is, Mary got up and took off. Verse 39, Mary arose and went with haste to the hill country, to a city of Judah and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth.
This is a 100-mile journey, three to four days. There's no mention of a family member along, a custodian, a chaperone, a guide. She, as we would say, up and leaves here in North Carolina. She takes off, and the construction of this language indicates that she's running. She may be running away. Going to where Gabriel has told her something else is unusual happening there, she'll understand. Oh, by the way, if Mary had anything to hide, the last place she would go on the planet is to the home of a priest whose duty it was to uphold the law. She doesn't have anything to hide.
She just has a lot to learn, and apparently she's alone. Finally, here she is in the doorway, unannounced, unexpected, saying, hello, Elizabeth. Verse 41, when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she cried out with a loud voice. She's shouting, blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, and how has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
I'm in the presence of my Lord. Now, you need to understand these are Old Testament times, even though you're in the New Testament. New Covenant begins with the descent of the Holy Spirit, the creation of the church at Pentecost. These are Old Testament times. The Holy Spirit anointed people. He did not indwell them. The indwelling will take place in this era, this dispensation we call the church age.
This would be unique, of course, to us in the New Testament. He came and he stayed. We're not praying for the Holy Spirit to come. He came.
He hasn't gone anywhere. He indwells the growing bride of Christ. Every member immediately upon conversion is indwelt by the Spirit. You were all baptized by means of the Spirit into the body of Christ, 1 Corinthians 12, 13. Every believer has been Spirit baptized. If anybody asks you, have you ever been baptized by the Spirit?
You can say yes, because you have been. The Spirit came. You didn't get a leg, an arm, a torso.
You got the whole person. He indwells you. But in the Old Testament, he would come and go. He would come and anoint, like he did with King Saul.
Then he'd leave. This is David praying, don't take your Holy Spirit away from me, something a believer never has to pray. In this context, the Holy Spirit is immediately anointing Elizabeth with his inspiring presence so that she bursts out with this amazing declaration. Zacharias, by the way, representing an unbelieving nation, unable to speak for God, join in, stands there watching. No doubt rejoicing, by the way.
Why? Because for both of them, a big piece of the puzzle has just dropped into their lap. They had been given the message from Gabriel that their son would be the forerunner of the Messiah, which then begs a big question. Where's the Messiah that our boy will introduce? I mean, if our son is going to introduce to the nation the Son of God, where is the Son of God? How will he manifest himself? How is our boy going to recognize him? Where will he come from? Has he been born yet?
Is he going to be born? How does this work? And all of that is answered on the porch when Mary simply shows up and says, Hello. Immediately, Elizabeth turns around and says, Effectively, this is it. I understand now.
It's coming together. You. She doesn't know that Mary is expecting. She hasn't heard from Gabriel about Mary, but as soon as she hears her greeting, she turns and says, I get it now. You're carrying the Messiah. I'm in the presence of my Lord. And all that by her simply saying, Hello. Now, if that isn't enough of a moment to remember, did you notice what pre-born baby John does? Elizabeth summarizes it in verse 44. This is wonderful here. For behold, Elizabeth says, When the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby, my baby, leaped in my womb for joy.
He leapt for joy. Are you sure? Well, a mother knows the sensation of when her baby delivers a kick. Elizabeth in faith says in verse 43, I am in the presence of my Lord. Oh, he's unborn too. She calls him my Lord. Unborn yet divine.
I'm in the presence of the Messiah. Very, very helpful, no doubt, to Mary. In fact, verse 56, where it tells us that Mary stayed with Elizabeth, and it says about three months before returning to her home, I'm grateful for one linguist who points out that verse 56 is a summary verse that informs us that Mary did eventually go home. Not to tell us that she left before verse 57 takes place, which is highly significant to the preparation of Mary. See, the context of John's birth, if you study this carefully, and for the sake of time, I'm just going to give you an overview here. We know that the family and the relatives, the extended family, and also the neighbors show up after the birth. It's after the birth that they celebrate with her joy, which means they kept this thing a secret all the way up through the delivery, which means that Mary may very well have played the role of midwife.
She was the only woman there. Zacharias, you know, he's kind of the bumbling assistant. He's there ready without towel or water or whatever. He needs to go fetch. This would have been important as Mary's education is provided for childbirth and delivery.
Why? Because in a few months, Mary is going to deliver a baby alone. All she has is Joseph. Even in this, God is preparing Mary with what she needed.
Not more, not what she'd like to have, but enough. So you have this scene here. John is delivered. The news gets out. Elizabeth and Zacharias and everyone there are filled with joy.
John is 59. It came about that on the eighth day, they came to circumcise the child. This is according to the prescription of the law. They're going to make sure that John has impeccable Jewish credentials, which he will need as a prophet.
So on the eighth day is prescribed by the law. They're going to circumcise him, bringing him into the covenant family, and they're going to name him. They're going to name him Zacharias after his father. Now, notice that they are the extended family. They're going to name him. Zacharias can't talk. So they assume they got the right name. We've discussed it.
We've had a little pow wow, the family, uncles and aunts, cousins. We got together and we think, he ought to be called Zacharias. Verse 60, and his mother answered and said, no, indeed. The force of that language says, no way.
You're not going to do that. His name will be called John. And they said to her, there's no one among your relatives who's called by that name.
I love this scene. It's time to name the boy. Zacharias can't offer any help. We've decided we're going to call him Zacharias Jr. We're going to have Big Zach and Little Zach.
Elizabeth says, no, you're not. We're going to name him John. And they're thinking, John? Where did that come from? That doesn't even start with a Z.
That's not even close to Zacharias. It doesn't rhyme with everything else. We've got the book from Walmart. Cute names for babies.
This doesn't fit. What are you thinking, postnatal confusion? So we better ask Dad. That's what happens next. Verse 62, they made signs to the father as to what he wanted them called. And he asked for a tablet, this wax-covered tablet, and wrote as follows, his name is John, and they are all astonished. Nuance of the word means they're slightly scandalized. Can't believe they're doing this.
They're offended. He's not going to carry on that name. Listen, here's the great story behind just his naming.
He is there. His ministry will be there to introduce someone who will give to everyone who believes in him a new name. In fact, it's going to be a new family, too. John means the grace of God.
Oh, by the way, that's how you get into the family. That's how you get your new name, Christian. See, he's there to introduce something totally new. And all of a sudden, after Zacharias writes on that waxed tablet, his name is John. In obedience to the word of God. Verse 64 tells us that he began to speak.
His tongue is loosed. He begins to speak in praise of God. And fear came on all those living around them. And all these matters were being talked about in all the hill country of Judea.
I'll bet they were. And you know in your heart of hearts because you belong to God the Father by faith in this one who is your Lord. You can do nothing other than respond with, okay, okay. With joy. I surrender my body, mind, and heart to you as a living sacrifice.
Holy, separated, sanctified, acceptable to you, oh God, which is the most reasonable thing I could ever do with my life as I worship you because you are my Lord. You are my Lord. I hope today's time in God's word has blessed and encouraged you this Christmas season.
This is Wisdom for the Heart. We'll be bringing you messages focused on Christmas, all the way up to Christmas Day. This series is called Christmas Cousins.
Your Bible teacher is still learning about Christmas and how it has changed your life. You can interact with our ministry online at our website, which is wisdomonline.org. Once you get to that site, you'll be able to access all of our resources and listen to any of our messages. Please consider making a charitable contribution to our ministry. All of the funding we need to produce these messages comes from our listeners. Please partner with us in taking the gospel to the nations and join us next time for more Wisdom for the Heart. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-08 00:59:48 / 2023-12-08 01:10:02 / 10