THE BIRTH OF JESUS FORETOLD
Key Verse: 1:32-33
Since it is Christmas I’ll tell a quick story of Christmas at my home. My son Isaac tells me at each store the toys he wants for Christmas starting from around thanksgiving. By now, the list is very long. He asks me, “Will Santa bring me that one too?” What do you think he would do if he could know for certain what Santa would bring Christmas day? I can tell you, all he wants to know is what will be under our tree December 25th. So, in short he would have to know the future to answer that. Now, what if you could know the future? I am so thankful for today’s passage we can all become prophets to know the future! It is because today’s passage is the birth of Jesus “foretold”. It is the truth revealed! Anyone who dedicates their life to God can know through this passage exactly what will happen to them.
Last week we learned that the forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist, would be born through Zechariah and Elizabeth. He would lead his people to repent to prepare them for Jesus. See, repenting is only the beginning. We also need faith in Jesus. Today’s passage, is about the virgin birth of Jesus. Mary was absolutely obedient to God and he used her to bring Jesus to the world. Let’s learn this morning about Mary’s obedience and how God sent the King Jesus to the world. So we can remove our skepticism, fear and anxiety. Putting God’s kingdom back into our hearts and others at Christmas time!
Part I. You have found favor with God (26-31).
Who was Mary? Let’s read vs 26-27. “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.” From the last passage we saw Elizabeth in her old age in fact did become pregnant. And was in seclusion for 5 months. At the end of this time immediately God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary. He wasted no time to continue his salvation plan to deliver a message in the country town of Nazareth in Galilee. It is the northern part of Israel and with a troubled past because commonly raiders came through this part to conquer Israel. (Slide 3) It’s nickname was land of the gentiles. It held a common trade route and became mixed with Hellenism and Jewish religions. But in this passage the Bible twice says that Mary was a virgin. In a town where secularism prevailed Mary remained a virgin. Moreover, the Bible says she was pledged to be married. In the Jewish marriage custom it was a two-step process. First, was the pledge period. It was when the bridegroom’s family paid the bride price or dowry and the couple was officially declared married. This lasted for 1yr. Then, after one 1yr. the bridegroom would take the bride home to live together as husband and wife. Mary had officially become the wife of Joseph although they didn’t live together. I should point out this is exactly opposite of our modern culture. But her husband wasn’t ordinary either. He was a descendant of king David. The ancient king of Israel who enjoyed God’s favor and whose highest desire was to find a permanent house for God. Although he didn’t, God promised his descendants would. In fact God promised the messiah would be the offspring of a woman in Genesis (3:15). And of a virgin in Isaiah (7:14). Maybe Mary had thought about these theological things as a pure innocent girl. But now her marriage to Joseph was way to dreamy. She would leave the theology to the Rabbi’s. She figured settling down with a good honest man would be enough. She only dreamt of her beautiful wedding with Joseph and her future family. Whenever she met her fiancée, her check turned red and her heart began to pump fast. Almost leaping out of her chest. She said to herself when she was alone, “O Joseph, O Joseph!” Their longing for each other was so powerful that nothing else seemed real. Only their love together would save them it seemed! How about Steve and Julia? But one day something unusual happened to Mary. An angel greeted her.
How did the angel greet her, and why was she troubled at his greeting? Let’s read vs 28 & 29. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” It doesn’t say where the angel met her. Perhaps she strolled into the Nazareth synagogue to pray quietly. Hoping that God would hide her in his hands until she arrived safe with Joseph. But she was surprisingly interrupted by the angel. This troubled Mary almost like waking out of a dream to reality. She didn’t want to be awoken. She didn’t need a favor of an angel. Josephs’ favor was enough she thought. But because she was a humble innocent girl she quietly wondered about this greeting.
What does it mean to find favor with God? Let’s read verse 30 “But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. Not wanting to scare Mary the angel reassured her and said, ‘do not be afraid’, and called her by her name, and told her she had found favor with God. Generally, the word favor means to do something nice for someone. The word favor in Greek has the concept of grace. God didn’t send his messenger to a random person. But an outstanding pledged Jewish girl. She had found favor with God. In the Bible Noah had found favor with God. He was upright in his generation. When all the people of his time were married and given in marriage Noah had God’s perspective of marriage and held it sacred. Because Noah found favor with God, God told him how to build an ark that would save his family from the deadly flood. But Noah had to endure many hardships to build the ark. Living in a dry desert who thought the place would be flooded? But Noah thought about God’s grace to him and overcame these difficulties and saved his family and received the rainbow promise which God said he would never again destroy the world by water.
What was the favor or grace God gave Mary? Let’s read verse 31 “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.” It turns out Mary was right to be troubled at the angel’s greeting. The favor Mary found with God was to conceive and give birth to Jesus. I know many people are thinking that doesn’t sound too troublesome. But that is probably the people who rushed past the conception and pregnancy part. First, she shouldn’t conceive because she still didn’t live with Joseph. If she was found pregnant she could be stoned to death according to Jewish tradition. Now what about the pregnancy part? There are many mothers here today. I was there when Isaac was born. Giving birth in 2010 is treated very seriously even with modern medicine. What about in 1 BC? Women until maybe the 20th century regularly died while giving birth. I’m starting to feel troubled how about you?
But how do women endure the 9 long months of birth? It must be related to the joy that will come. Perhaps just the thought of having a child outweighs all of this. By God’s favor Mary could overcome the shame of pregnancy before marriage and pain of birth. Moreover, Mary wouldn’t bring an ordinary child to the world. Her son was to be called Jesus. The gospel of Matthew says this means he will save his people from their sins. Jesus will be the savior and Messiah of the world. Amen. What a special child in deed for Mary to have. I heard that most mothers and sons have a special relationship. Maybe mom likes the son and father like daughter like ‘Mommas boy’ or ‘daddy’s girl’. Especially, the first born male was so precious. So by God’s grace Mary happily would be dedicated to love, feed and take care of Jesus as he grew even being there when he died on the cross.
Apostle Paul also was willing to suffer to receive God’s grace. Let’s read. Ro 1:5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. Php 1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him,” Eph 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
John Newton was a slave trader but God saved him in a ship wreck and it was amazing grace that changed his life. He wrote the hymn Amazing Grace.
What is God’s favor for you? God called us to become his chosen instrument to share the gospel out of so many people. It is only by the favor of God. Who am I? God blessed to receive God’s grace. May God bless you to overcome any difficulties whether a young Bible student or mature servant through the grace and beauty of Jesus.
Part II. Jesus, our eternal King. (32-34)
What did the angel tell Mary about the son she would bear? Let’s read verses 32 &-33. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” The angel probably sensed the trouble his words brought to Mary. So he continued to tell Mary about who Jesus will be in order to help her. He told her 3 things about who Jesus is in these verses.
First, Jesus is great because he is the Son of God.(32a) Jesus is the one and only Son of Almighty God. Jesus is the Son of the Ruler of history, and his kingdom is forever. Our God is the only living God and he rules world history according to his time schedule. Our God is Spirit and is immortal. Therefore, Jesus is great because he is the Son of God.
Second, Jesus is the eternal King. (32b) God promised David that from his root the Messiah would come Let’s read 2Sa 7:12,13. “12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” However, David was the shadow of Jesus, the King of love and peace. Kings of the world live for a brief time and die. But Jesus became the eternal King. Our eternal King Jesus destroyed the power of sin and death. Thus he became our eternal king. Our eternal King gives eternal salvation from sin, eternal life and the kingdom of God to those who believe in him.
Third, His kingdom is forever.(33) The prophet Daniel wrote in his apocalyptic prophecy concerning the eternal kingdom of Jesus our Lord. Let’s read Daniel 2:44-45a. 44 “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45 This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces.” The kings and kingdoms of the world are temporal, for they are like pieces of wood, clay, bronze, iron, and so on. There is nothing eternal in this world. This universal truth has been the agony of the kings of nations in history when they wanted to keep their kingdoms forever. The kingdoms of the world all crumbled like iron eaten by rust. So Donald Trump’s presidency has split Americans. But Only the kingdom of Jesus is forever because he rules in our hearts. Jesus is a spiritual king! He became our eternal king through his death and resurrection. Though Jesus is the Son of the Most High God, he came to this world. He humbled himself and was born in a manger of a stable. In this way, Jesus humbled himself in order to save men from their sins. Moreover, Jesus emptied himself and became as nothing. Jesus cared for all kinds of needy people as their friend and shepherd. Jesus taught them the word of God and planted the hope of the kingdom of God in the hearts of God’s flock. Without this in our hearts we don’t have any grace with God or with others. We are filled with so many sins like coveting, lewdness, adultery, fits of rage and so on. But when the eternal king Jesus rules our hearts he rules with forgiveness, peace and righteousness. Finally, he gave his precious life on the cross as a ransom sacrifice for mans’ sins in obedience to God’s will. Jesus is truly great because he saves men from their sins. Jesus is great because he is the Son of God. Through Adam all died. But Jesus is the son of God. All can have life!
Before meeting Jesus I was a normal young man, although a little slower than others. But, although i wanted to do good things either from my conscience, heart or from the Bible I couldn’t. This was basically because of my sin which separated me from God and others. Moreover, I had many bad habits like laziness, overeating and eventually drinking and smoking. I wasn’t happy with this because I felt out of control. I didn’t have any hope of being saved. However, through Bible study the king Jesus came to me to defeated the power of sin by his forgiveness and establish his rule in my heart. Then I can have new life following Jesus. He gave me peace, joy and happiness. He made me responsible to pray for God’s ministry also. I am thankful for the king Jesus who saved me. Thank God for Christmas time where we can worship the king Jesus!
Part III. Divine Response (34-38).
What was Mary’s response? Let’s read verse 34, “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” Mary was not negative, but had a scientific question. Her question shows a positive response. How does this reveal her great faith? Let’s read 35. The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” When the angel expounded that Mary’s pregnancy was not an accident, but was precisely the work of the Holy Spirit, Mary accepted the angel’s message absolutely. Now Mary was ready to respond to the angel’s message. What was the basis of her decision of faith? Let’s read 36-37. “Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month.37 For no word from God will ever fail.” Again the angel convinced Mary that nothing is impossible with God. She realized that her destiny is absolutely in the hand of God. She also realized that even if she had rejected God’s plan, God would carry it out anyway. She could have been very rebellious and rejected the angel’s message, but Mary decided to obey based on God’s words. What can we learn from her? Let’s read vs 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” When Mary said this, she was not speaking from her emotions, or with blind resignation to fate; she said this on the basis of God’s promise.
God blessed Mary to become the mother of Jesus out of all women. God is using many women missionaries among our ministry. God is using them to prepare food and to teach Bible and to serve sheep and to pray for men. They are precious in the sight of God. Many mothers were impressed by god’s favor to Mary and named their daughters Mary. We live in Maryland State! How many Mary’s or Maria’s are among us? Let’s pray that God may raise up many sacrificial beautiful women of God to serve the gospel of Jesus.