The Journey, Luke 2:1-7

Intro:

A few weeks ago I was visiting with one of our senior saints. I was talking about Christmas and she said, “I don’t know how they had babies back then.” I said something like, “yes and to be traveling during the ninth month of pregnancy!” We continued our conversation, I then parted ways, but I have to imagine the travel that happened in order for the first Christmas was very difficult.

But think about Christmas today. Our difficulty and even our busyness is of our own doing.

What do you have to get done for Christmas?

Shout some things out:

Bake cookies

More shopping

More decorating

Wrap gifts

Travel

Groceries

Etc.

These are all great things, but they are nothing compared to what Mary and Joseph went through. I am not meaning to criticize anyone here either.

Now, switch gears, think with me about a difficult time that ended okay… Maybe you did not know that God was going to use it for good until sometime later. Maybe you were laid off for a while but then God gave you a better job. Maybe you were laid off but then you realized you didn’t even need the job. Maybe something else was taken from you…

I also believe that God can use our hard times.

We are going to look at Luke 2:1-7 and mainly focus on the journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

A few years ago, I had Elvis playing on the CD player while Meagan, myself and our two girls were driving around looking for a fishing spot. I thought it was great fun. But Meagan said something like, “Great, my idea of fun, driving around getting car sick while listening to Elvis.”

But when we think about Mary and Joseph traveling it was not in a car, they had no CD player, and, unfortunately, no Elvis music.

Think about it, they are traveling, Mary is in her ninth month of pregnancy. Mary could not have been enjoying this as a sight-seeing journey. But God used this difficult journey to bring the Savior into the world.

Let me say right now, I greatly benefited in ideas as well as cultural, geographical information from Adam Hamilton’s book, The Journey.[1]

Theme:

Mary and Joseph had a difficult journey heading into Jesus’ birth. God was going to use this for the good.

Application:

Let God use difficult things you go through for His glory and purposes.

Let’s read the passage:

Luke 2:1-7:

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

  1. Let’s start by talking about what led up to the journey.
    1. It is likely that while Mary was visiting her relative, Elizabeth, she went to see Joseph and tell him that she was pregnant. During that time She would have been in Ein Karem which is close to Bethlehem, which is where Joseph is from. Of course, Joseph was likely upset but then God spoke to him in a dream (Matthew 1:20-23) and he decided to stay by her.
    2. Following that, it is likely that they talked to her parents and planned a wedding. We could call it eloping if we want. It is likely that they got married when she was about five months pregnant with our Lord.
    3. There could have been people questioning things, likely there were.
    4. It is likely that they traveled the 70 some miles back to Nazareth for the wedding.
    5. It was common in that day that there would be a formal engagement. Following the formal engagement a husband would build a room onto his father’s house. About a year later he would marry the bride to be and they would live at the father of the groom’s house until they could afford their own house and land.
    6. In this case things are different. Maybe, they planned to live at Joseph’s parent’s house after baby Jesus was born. However, they were in Nazareth prior to the census. It seems that they were planning to give birth in Nazareth. Nazareth would allow Mary to be close to her parents and maybe a midwife that she would know.
    7. But then the census comes. The census meant that they would have to travel to Bethlehem. Bethlehem was Joseph’s hometown and since Mary was married to him she would have to register with him in Bethlehem. It is likely that Joseph’s parents had a home in Bethlehem.
    8. So, now they have to travel.
    9. Mary is likely nine months pregnant, do you think she was excited to travel? What do you think?
    10. I think she might have been thinking, “This is not how it was supposed to be. Why am I going through this?” She likely was having a hard time.
    11. Sometimes we, also, are in difficult situations and we may be asking questions of the Lord as well. We may be going through cancer, loss of a loved one, out of work, dealing with difficult children. We can be sure that God is with us. We can be sure that God can also use what we are going through for His glory and will.
    12. The route: There are two likely routes: and the following information about the route comes from the book The Journey by Adam Hamilton
      1. (There is a third route but not mentioned that often by scholars)
      2. The first route would have taken Mary and Joseph to the east, crossing the Jordan, then south sixty miles, and finally recrossing the Jordan near Jericho and west to Bethlehem. This route would have been followed by the Jews wishing to avoid the Samaritans who were a people of mixed race whose faith was largely influenced by Judaism but that had its own distinctive elements. The land of the Samaritans, Samaria— separated the Northern region of Galilee from the southern region of Judea. Many Jews considered the Samaritans unclean, or heretics, or worse. Because of the conflict with Samaritans, some Jews felt it might be dangerous to travel through Samaria; hence, for purity or safety many Jews went out of their way to avoid passing through it. But taking this route around Samaria would have added twenty or thirty miles to Mary and Joseph’s journey— perhaps two days.
  • This first route is believed by many pastors, teachers, and Biblical scholars to be the route that Joseph and Mary would have taken. Some argue that this route along the Jordan would also have been easier to travel because the Jordan River valley is a plain, and there is some truth to this.
  1. The second route and the one Adam Hamilton thinks likely, was more direct. It took them nearly due south from Nazareth through the Jezreel Valley and along the road known as the Way of the Patriarchs. This route was easier through the first half of the journey, though the second half included some hills and mountains, with well known places to stop for water along the way. This route would have meant two fewer days of travel than the first route described.
  2. In following the route through Samaria, the holy family would have been retracing sixteen hundred years of Biblical history.
  3. The first century Jewish Historian, Josephus, is said to have noted that during the Passover, when large numbers of Jews were making their way to Jerusalem, it was not uncommon for Jews to go through Samaria.
  • Hundreds of thousands of others would be traveling south from Galilee just like Mary and Joseph.
  • It was in this area, in the center of this country that God appeared to Abraham and promised to give this land to his descendants.
    1. Here Jacob saw angels ascending and descending to and from Heaven.
    2. [If they went this way] Mary and Joseph’s Caravan made camp near springs and wells each night that had been used since the time of the Patriarchs, including “Jacob’s Well” near the town of Sychar.
    3. They passed the place where Joseph, the son of Jacob, whose story we recall from the Old Testament, was buried after his bones were brought back from Egypt.
    4. They came to Shiloh, where Joshua had set up the tent of meeting and the Ark of the Covenant.
    5. They walked where the great early prophets Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha ministered.
    6. They followed the path of the Assyrian army when it came to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel and where the armies of Babylon marched as they invaded Judea and Jerusalem itself and carried away its people.
    7. They also retraced the steps of the exiles who returned singing “unto Zion” after the Exile was over.
    8. God walked with His people through all of these journeys.
  1. If they took this route it would have been a recounting geographically of God’s salvation history. Also, the Baby in her womb was and is the Apex of this history.
  2. Later in John 4:10 and 14 we see that Jesus stopped in Samaria at Jacob’s well in Sychar and offered a woman “living water.”
  3. Luke 10 and Jesus’ scandalous parable of the good Samaritan in which He made a Samaritan man the example of what it means to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” showing the Samaritan to be more righteous than either a Jewish priest or a Levite.
  4. Did Jesus learn this attitude from His mother and father?
  5. Who are our Samaritans and where is our Samaria?
  6. Which groups do we feel an aversion for?
  7. Where are the places in our own city, country or world that we would avoid because we are uncomfortable with “those people”?
  1. Let’s think about the travel
    1. There is no mention of a donkey though Joseph likely would have procured an animal for her to ride on. The apocryphal Gospel of James does mention a donkey.
    2. They would have a descent from the hills into the Jezreel Valley. This would have been the easiest part of the journey and may have taken the first two days.
    3. The Jezreel Valley was the location of so many of the ancient battles that it became synonymous with war and bloodshed. The writer of Revelation saw the final, apocalyptic battle between good and evil—the battle of Armageddon— taking place here. (Armageddon means “hill of Megiddo,” with Megiddo being a city built upon a hill along the Jezreel Valley— see Revelation 16:16.)
    4. The child in Mary’s womb would be called the Prince of Peace yet someday will return on a white horse, to wage war against evil and ultimately to triumph over it (Rev. 19:11-16).
    5. The journey would get more difficult after several days. Following the ancient road that curved back and forth as it ascended and descended the hills and mountains of central Israel.
    6. Mary and Joseph would have traveled up higher and higher hills.
    7. From Jerusalem it would only be a few hours walk to Bethlehem across several miles of arid desert and some hills.
    8. Then they arrive at Bethlehem.
  • But think about Jesus’ birth. If Joseph is from Bethlehem, why no place to stay.
    1. Think about a first century home:
      1. central room that served as a kitchen and living area
      2. sleeping quarters where parents slept
  • guest room where children slept and they yielded to guests when there was company
  1. when there were guests the children slept with their parents or in the living area
  2. there was also a stable or small barn either behind the home or, in the case of homes built around caves, beneath the home. The stable protected the animals from predators or animals at night.
  1. Assuming that Joseph’s family was of modest income, they would have had one guest room. The guest room might hold bed mats for 6 people sleeping side by side. The main living room and kitchen could hold several more.
  2. How many of Joseph’s extended family were in Bethlehem because of the census?
  3. If Joseph had four or five siblings and each of them had family, it is easy to see why there would have been no room in the guest room.
  4. Imagine her sitting on the birthing stole, between contractions choking back the tears, thinking this is not how it was supposed to be. She was not supposed to be giving birth in her in-laws barn.
  1. Some final applications:
    1. This was not a silent night
    2. All was not calm and bright
    3. It was a disappointing and depressing night. It was hard.
    4. He was born not in a hospital, or in a guest room but in a stable.
    5. We all have journeys that are difficult:
      1. Jacob’s son, Joseph, was sold into slavery. (Gen. 37)
      2. David fled Saul and fled to the Philistines for a few years (1 Samuel 19ff and chapter 27) and he wrote Psalms asking, “Why do You allow my enemies to prosper?” “When are You going to save me?” That was not the end of the story.
      3. Shadrach, Meshech and Abednego were told to bow down and worship the king’s image, but they didn’t. (Daniel 3) That was not the end of the story.
      4. The people of Israel were exiled for 50 years but that was not the end.
      5. Now, the child born in a stable would walk to Calvary, but that was not the end of the story.

All of us take difficult journeys but God walks with us on the journeys. God redeems the journeys and that is not the end of the story.

Mary could not see that the angels would be rejoicing. She could not see that we would be reading the story two thousand years later.  However, we are.

Prayer

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

 

[1] Rev 2:20-23

Hamilton, Adam (2011-09-01). The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem. Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Advertisements

Cody Rigney’s Men’s Breakfast notes

Today we had the joy to hear Cody Rigney speak at the Men’s Breakfast. He shared a lot of data. I asked him if I could post his notes and they are below:

Men’s breakfast message

Intro

  • It’s a privilege to be giving the message today, and I want to thank Pastor Steve Rhodes for giving me this opportunity.
  • I want to start by asking you what is your biggest fear in sharing your faith? To help you think through this, let’s imagine you’re sitting in a restraraunt about ready to order your food, and suddenly you feel God calling you to ask your waiter if he has any prayer needs and maybe even to share about Jesus. Maybe there are a lot of people and the tables are kind of crowded so you know everyone will hear you what you say to your waiter. Let’s add one more challenge, let’s say you know the waiter is an atheist. Maybe he’s your brothers friend. What would your biggest fear be? (Ask people listening)  (Likely rejection and fear of not having answers. Look for not having answers).
  • If we look at what the bible says about this, we see that 1 Peter 3:15 says, “always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within you, with gentleness and respect.”
  • Now some might look at that and think, “Well I can give my testimony of what Jesus has done to transform my life but after that I don’t know how to answer objections like ‘There is no evidence for God’s existence’, or ‘Jesus is just a myth like Santa Claus’, or ‘The bible is corrupt’ or ‘Jesus can’t be the only way to heaven’.”
  • But Jesus’ disciples were ready give answers to these objections. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul, an apostle of Christ, invites the doubters to find out the truth for themselves. He says: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” and 1 Corinthians 15:17 – “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins”. Just before that Paul lists those who Jesus made appearances to, including 500 men.  You can see here Paul was not afraid to face objections.
  • We see the same attitude with Peter. In 2 Peter 1:16 – “For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”
  • They were ready to defend their faith, and other ancient texts show us the next generation of disciples did as well.
  • Today I want to help equip you to defend your faith, so I’m going to go through some of these objections. Obviously we won’t be able to cover every objection, but I hope that what I share with you will give you will give you confidence when sharing your faith, knowing that you will never face an objection that Christians haven’t already heard and you can even do your own research on those.

Objection #1: “There is no evidence that God exists”

  • Let’s start with an obvious objection from an atheist, that there is no evidence that God exists.
  • By show of hands, how many know somebody who thinks this? Or just doesn’t believe God exists?
  • Now, the bible seems to claim there is evidence that He exists. Look at
    • Psalm 19:1 – “The heavens declare the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
    • Romans 1:19-21 – “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
  • It turns out, there are actually many good arguments for God’s existence that can withstand criticism. I would even go as far as to say there are no good arguments against God’s existence, because the ones out there fall apart upon further investigation.  Many atheists recognize this and cop out by saying you can’t prove that something doesn’t exist.  But I think that can only be true if there are no good arguments for Gods existence. But there are!
  • So let’s look at one of the popular arguments for God’s existence.
  • It’s called the cosmological argument and basically says that since our universe had a beginning, it must have had a cause.
  • William Lane Craig, Research professor at Talbot School of Theology who holds a Ph.D in Philosophy and Ph.D in Theology (and 3 other degrees), writes in his book On Guard, and bear with me on this: “The cause of the universe must therefore be a transcendent cause beyond the universe. This cause must be itself uncaused because we’ve seen that an infinite series of causes is impossible.  It is therefore the Uncaused First Cause.  It must transcend space and time, since it created space and time.  Therefore, it must be immaterial and nonphysical.  It must be unimaginably powerful, since it created all matter and energy.  Finally, it must be a personal being.”
  • Let me paraphrase that for you. The cause of the universe must be God.
  • Modern discoveries in Science and philosophy show us that space and time did actually begin to exist at some point in the past. Due to the limited amount of time, we won’t go into these discoveries, but feel free to ask me about them afterward.

Objective #2: ”The Bible is corrupt”

  • Let’s move on to another objection. Let’s look at the objection that the Bible is corrupt.
  • I was watching a YouTube video a while back of a Christian and a Muslim taking turns presenting their faith on a college campus. One thing the Muslim said was that there were hundreds of gospels and the early church fathers arbitrarily picked just 4 to include in the New Testament. I wondered for a while where he got that information but I eventually discovered he got it from the book, The Da Vinci Code, whether he knew it or not. It turns out the book is completely fiction and even says that on the book. I am glad to say that is simply not true.
  • So because of limited time, I am going to list a few points and summarize with a quote from Sir Frederic Kenyon.
  • 1 – Although we do not have the original New Testament manuscripts (by the way we don’t have the original of any ancient work), we have 5,400 copies of Greek manuscripts, partial and complete, of the New Testament from about the first 5 centuries, about 76x as many than the next closest ancient work.
  • 2 – The earliest known manuscript copy we have on hand is from 125 AD.
  • 3 – It is very likely that some of what we have on hand are direct copies of the originals, not copies of copies of copies and so on.
  • Sir Frederic Kenyon, former directory and principal librarian at the British Museum and whose authority on ancient manuscripts is second to none, concludes: “The interval then between the dates of original composition and the earliest extant evidence becomes so small as to be in fact negligible, and the last foundation for any doubt that the Scriptures have come down to us substantially different as they were written has now been removed. Both the authenticity and the general integrity of the books of the New Testament may be regarded as finally established.”

Objection #3: “Jesus is a myth”

  • Ok, let’s look at an objection that cuts to the core of Christian faith. The objection that Jesus is a myth.
  • Can you guys throw out some of your thoughts about what non-Christians would say about Jesus?
  • Let me start this one by saying that no scholar defends that Jesus never existed. With the exception of a handful, nearly every historian agrees that Jesus was a real man.
  • What’s interesting about the Christian faith, is it’s the only faith grounded on historical fact and truth. In fact, the different works in the New Testament were originally independent accounts and sources of the events that occurred.
  • Most of the books in the New Testament are dated to within 20-40 years of Christ’s death and resurrection. Which scholars agree is far too soon for legendary myths to develop, which usually take 150 years. And in fact, we see legendary books emerging around this time, like the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas. Those books were written much much later and were the result of legendary development. The fact is, the New Testament Gospels are the only historically reliable ones we have.
  • In fact, the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead can be dated to within just a couple years after the crucifixion and resurrection.
  • One Buddhist scholar begins his book by declaring quite frankly that his religious tradition doesn’t not have anything close to Christianity’s historical foundation. The texts he edited in his volume all date from 600 to 900 years after the Buddha’s death! Thus, all attempts to know the Buddha’s original teachings are “mere surmise” and “fruitless”!
  • In “Why Trust the Bible?” Greg Gilbert comments that “Even more, though, than the religions of the world, Christianity presents itself as history. It’s not primarily just a list of ethical teachings or a body of philosophical musings or mystical “truths” or even a compendium of myths and fables.  At its very heart, Christianity is a claim that something extraordinary has happened in the course of time – something concrete and real and historical.”
  • Of all the miracles, healing, exorcisms, and profound wisdom from Jesus, perhaps the most important of all is Him rising from the dead. The Christian faith hinges on the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.
  • My wife was watching a show called air disasters, and they collect facts from the crash, using the black box and recorded communications with air traffic controllers and other factors. From the facts they come up with different explanations and they make a conclusion based on which explanation best explains the facts.
  • The same can be done with the facts concerning the resurrection.
  • Let’s look at the minimal facts related to the resurrection. The minimal facts approach was originally developed by Dr. Gary Habermas, distinguished professor and chair at Liberty University.  These are historical facts agreed upon by majority of New Testament critics (we aren’t talking about evangelical scholarship here, this means non-Christians, even atheists):
    • Jesus’ tomb was found empty by a group of His women followers.
    • On numerous occasions and in different places individuals and groups saw appearances of Jesus alive from the dead. (More than 500).
    • The origin of the Christian faith depends on the belief of the earliest disciples that God raised Jesus of Nazareth from the dead.
  • That’s awesome! So what is the best explanation of these facts?
  • Of course, that God raised Jesus from the dead!
  • Other natural explanations simply do not hold up. Pretty cool huh?
  • Just to affirm even more confidence in the Scripture, I want to mention other reliable historical sources outside of the New Testament referring to Jesus.
  • Norman Geisler, dean and professor of theology and apologetics at Southern Evangelical Seminary, summarized the historical evidence we get from extra-biblical sources. He states: “The primary sources for the life of Christ are the four Gospels.  However, there are considerable reports from non-Christian sources that supplement and confirm the Gospel accounts.  These com largely from Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Samaritan sources of the first century.  In brief they inform us that: (1) Jesus was from Nazareth; (2) he lived a wise and virtuous life; (3) he was crucified in Palestine under Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius Caesar at Passover time, being considered the Jewish king; (4) he was believed by his disciples to have been raised from the dead three days later; (5) his enemies acknowledged that he performed unusual feats they called “sorcery”; (6) his small band of disciples multiplied rapidly, speaking even as far as Rome; (7) his disciples denied polytheism (belief in multiple gods), lived moral lives, and worshipped Christ as Divine.  This picture confirms the view of Christ presented in the New Testament Gospels.”

Objection #4: ‘Jesus can’t be the only way to heaven’

  • There is one more objection I want to cover, and that is the objection, “Jesus can’t be the only way to heaven”.
  • There are many different reasons someone might believe this, and so this is a slightly more difficult objection to address.
  • I think we have to start with a view of heaven and hell that is based on truth. I’d say that truth can only be found in the bible, the text that the man who truly and historically rose from the dead authorized.
  • Heaven is being with Jesus forever. Wait… isn’t heaven where you’ll be with God? We understand from the bible that Jesus is God in the flesh.  He is God, who though he sat on a throne in paradise receiving praise from angels, stepped into the world and suffered for us, so that we can be with Him forever.
  • What about Hell? Call out some words you think describe hell.
  • One critical thing we can be sure of about Hell is that it is eternal separation from God.
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the Glory of his might.”
  • You see, God is holy, morally perfect. And there will certainly not be any sin in heaven.  God would not allow his heaven to become like earth is now.  But we’re all sinners, as Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” That means we literally lack God’s glory.  So how could we possibly get to heaven?  That’s where Jesus comes in.  On the cross he made a trade with us.  He took our sin and death and he gave us his perfection.  He took the punishment of our sin and suffered beyond anything we could imagine. And he died.  Then 3 days later, he rose from the dead.
  • It’s only through Him that we can be good enough to get into heaven. Our good works aren’t good enough, because we are all tainted with our bad works.  They need washed away, and only Jesus can do that.  It’s only through faith we are saved, not by any good things we do.  That’s exactly what the historically affirmed bible teaches.
  • This is one reason Jesus is the only way to heaven.
  • He himself claimed to be the only way in John 14:6 – He said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. Nobody comes to the Father(God) except through me.”
  • Wow, who could make a claim like that? Only God himself.
  • I could keep going but I think my time is up.

Conclusion

  • I hope that this has been helpful and encouraging for you in going about sharing your faith.
  • I want to encourage you to be strong and courageous in your faith, and not have fear.
  • As 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”
  • If someone does object to your faith, go and research on the subject. Let them know you will get back to them on that.  Talk to someone who can help you find answers.  I am amazed all the time with the truth I find in Christ.
  • Thank you all for listening.
  • Does anybody have any questions?

Mary Visits Elizabeth

Opening:

The American storyteller Garrison Keillor recently claimed that you don’t have to believe in Jesus to have a great Christmas. Keillor said,

Although you may decide that instead of Christmas carols you are going to hold hands and breathe in unison, Christmas will still live deep in the cockles of your heart—or actually in your neo-cortex, stored as zillions of neuron impulses … It’s [your brain] that sends tears to your eyes when you smell the saffron cookies that your grandma used to make or you sing Silent Night. So Christmas is: number one lights, number two food, number three song, number four being with people you like. You need no more.

Tim Keller comments on Keillor’s quote:

Keillor is saying that it doesn’t matter whether you believe in God or not. You can still hold hands, you can still breathe in unison. All the good feelings of Christmas are just a reaction in our brain. But here’s why that doesn’t work. I know enough about Garrison Keillor to know that he is very upset with cruelty and prejudice. But if it’s really true that there is no God, if there is no supernatural or miracles, and if everything is a function of natural causes—if that is all true, then it is also true that love, and joy, and even cruelty and prejudice are just all chemical reactions stored in our brain. Keillor is against cruelty and prejudice, but if it’s true that everything is just chemistry, then how in the world can you say there’s a moral difference between love and cruelty, between kissing someone or killing someone? They’re both nothing but neuro-chemical responses. So if there is no God, and if Christmas is all about lights, songs, and being with nice people and your neo-cortex going crazy about it, then I don’t see how Keillor can stand up and say that there is something wrong with cruelty and prejudice. He can’t do it. Without the theology behind Christmas, you lose the core meaning of Christmas.[1]

So, as we move towards Christmas remember the importance of what is happening. Remember the reality and the truth of what is happening. Next, to get closer to today’s message, we see certain values present in Mary’s Magnificat. We see certain values addressed. The Magnificat is addressing injustice. We’ll look at that in a moment, but let’s look at a bigger picture. The Gospel is addressing injustice. Somehow we know and we believe in morality. Somehow we know and we believe that certain things are wrong and others are right. Somehow we believe in love. We believe in joy. We get these values somewhere. The Bible teaches that we get these values from God. (Romans 1:18-19; 2:15) Even more than that, we believe that certain things are wrong. If we believe certain things are wrong like murder, stealing, telling lies and just being mean, which the Bible calls sin. How do we make it right? Jesus’ death and resurrection takes care of our sin.

So, Mary is pregnant with Jesus. She is likely a little bit down. She may be very down. She doesn’t know how she is going to handle everything coming her way, but she is encouraged by her relative Elizabeth.  Have you ever been encouraged?

Have you ever thought you had more coming your way than you could handle?

Who encouraged you?

Who motivated you?

Let’s look at the passage.

Let’s read Luke 1:39-45:

At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea,  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!  

Theme: Mary visits Elizabeth and she is encouraged

Applications: Kneel before Jesus as Lord and be used of God to encourage others.

  1. Kneel before Jesus as Lord.
    1. We need to notice who the first person to call Jesus Lord was. If you look at this passage it was Elizabeth.
    2. Let me put this in context. The angel Gabriel visit Mary and tells her she is going to be pregnant with the Messiah. That happens in Luke 1:26-38. That passage ends with Mary saying, “I am the Lord’s servant…” Then Mary leaves and goes to visit her relative Elizabeth. This was likely an 8-9 day journey through Mountains and rough land. She is going from Nazareth to Ein Karem which is the traditional location of Elizabeth and Zachariah’s home.
  • Adam Hamilton believes that another reason for Mary to visit Elizabeth would be the proximity of her home to the home of Joseph. Tradition says that her home would have been in Ein Karem just about an hour walk and a few miles from the Temple mount in Jerusalem. Ein Karem is mentioned in Jeremiah 6:1 and Nehemiah 3:14 as “Beth-Haccherem” Ein Karem is 80 miles from Mary’s home in Nazareth. This may have taken 8-9 days and she would not have traveled alone. Mary stayed with Elizabeth until the end of the pregnancy.[2]
  1. Mary enters Elizabeth’s house and says, “Elizabeth, it’s me!” Then the baby in Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptizer, leaped in her womb. Verse 41 says that Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Understand that is an amazing statement. In the Old Testament only prophets and certain kings received the Holy Spirit. So, in Psalm 51:11: King David laments: “Take not the Holy Spirit from me.” There was a fear of losing the Holy Spirit.
  2. It was once said, “I wonder what it was like for Moses to talk to God as he did.” Yet Moses could have thought, “What is it like to have God with you?” We receive the Holy Spirit when we commit to Christ (John 14-17). We have God with us. (2 Cor. 6:16) Don’t take this lightly.
  3. Now, having the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth encourages Mary.
  • She says in verse 42: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the child that you bear.”
  • Imagine Mary being down and struggling with this task and now her relative is saying, “You are blessed.” “You are really blessed.”
  1. But verse 43: “But why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”
  2. Catch this: Elizabeth is an ordinary person and God calls her to do an extraordinary thing. She is bearing John the Baptizer. She is encouraging Mary. She is saying, “Who am I?” But then she calls Jesus Lord.
  3. How would she know? She is filled with the Holy Spirit and so she is the first to call Jesus Lord.
  • Romans 10:9-10 tells us to call Jesus Lord, do you?
  • In verses 39-45: 3 times the word “blessed” is used. Twice it refers to Mary and once to Jesus.
  1. Be an encourager.
    1. Mary is likely 10 days pregnant at this point. She has not been pregnant long.
    2. She needs encouraged and Elizabeth gave her that encouragement.
  • Everyone needs an encourager. Let me jump to mentors. Elizabeth is an older woman, that is not Mary’s mom, who can voice wisdom in her life. I have often heard that everyone should have a mentor, everyone should be mentoring someone else and everyone should have a peer that they can connect with. How are you doing in this area?
  1. I heard about a church that decided to take this mentoring seriously, so on all of their committees they chose to have one third of the participants be fifty-five and older, one third are to be thirty-five through fifty-five years old and one third of the committee are to be thirty five and younger. What a great idea for mentoring.
  • The Gospel is counter-cultural, let’s look at the Magnificat.
    1. I want to put out some verses from the Magnificat. Mary’s Magnificat is in verses 46-56.
    2. Magnificat comes from the Latin: “magnify” or “praise” this is based on the way Mary began her Psalm: “My Soul Magnifies the Lord.”
  • Mary was from a town so small it could barely be a dot on a map. Joseph was a carpenter and his net worth could fit in a tool box.
  1. He scatters the proud and pulls down the mighty from their thrones. (verses 51-52)
  2. Compare this with what Jesus will later say:
  3. Jesus had said, “the first shall be last and the last shall be first.”
  • Jesus said, “if you really want to be great you will be the servant of others.”
  • Jesus said, “If you are invited to a wedding banquet take the lower seat.”
  1. Jesus said, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up.” (Matthew 20:16, 26; Luke 14:8-11; James 4:10)
  2. In Mary’s Magnificat we find a picture of a God who is for the underdog and is for people who have been made to be feel like nobodies. Those are the ones He lifts up. That is the character of the God proclaimed in the Scriptures. That is the character of His Son.
  3. The Magnificat says that “He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty handed.” (verse 53)
  • This is an opportunity for the rich to humble themselves and be used of God.
  • The Magnificat is counter-cultural. The Magnificat is about how God uses ordinary people for extraordinary things.

So, review:

Mary and Elizabeth, two ordinary people who God used to do the extraordinary.

Theme: Mary visits Elizabeth and she is encouraged

Applications: Kneel before Jesus as Lord and be used of God to encourage others.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

[1] Adapted from Tim Keller, “God with Us: Conversations with Tim Keller about Christmas”

[2] Hamilton, Adam (2011-09-01). The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem. Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

Joseph, God used ordinary people

Tell me about Joseph. Shout out something that you know about Joseph.

Think about your nativity scene. How many of you have a Nativity Set?

Is Joseph old or young?

So little is known about Joseph that by the beginning of the second century, Christians began to develop traditions about him— traditions that are not likely historically accurate, although we cannot be sure. They began to teach that Joseph was an elderly widower when he married Mary; one source says he was 93 at the time and lived to be 111, dying when Jesus was 18. This tradition seemed to have developed as a way of asserting that a kind elderly gentleman took Mary in to care for her, and since he was more like a grandfather than a husband, the marriage was never consummated and Mary remained a virgin throughout her life. This picture of Joseph also provided one possible explanation for the brothers and sisters of Jesus mentioned in Matthew 13: 55-56 and elsewhere: they could have been Joseph’s children by a deceased wife. (Roman Catholics, for whom the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary is important, will also point out that “brothers and sisters” in the Gospels can also mean cousins or close family members.)

This idea that Joseph was elderly is represented in a good deal of art from the Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions, where Joseph is often portrayed as an older man. Most Protestants who regard the second-century traditions that developed about Joseph as spurious assume that Joseph was likely the age of any other young man getting married at the time— around fourteen or fifteen. So, Protestant portrayals tend to show Joseph as a young man. (As an aside, take a look at your nativity set and see if your Joseph is portrayed as an older man or a young man; if he is older the artist likely came from a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox tradition.)

Theme:

Today, I want to talk about Joseph. I want to tell you that Joseph was ordinary. I want to tell you that God used Him.

Application:

I want to tell you to never discount the ordinary. God will use ordinary events, ordinary people and you.

Let’s read Matthew 1:18-25:

This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet[e] did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

  1. Let’s start by talking about Joseph as ordinary.
    1. Joseph never said a word in the Gospels. He is never quoted.
    2. Joseph is from Bethlehem.
    3. In Matthew, Nazareth is not mentioned until 2:23. Then Jesus would have been at least two years old.
    4. In Matthew’s Gospel, Bethlehem appears to be Joseph’s hometown. Luke 2:3 would seem to corroborate this when it notes that, with the census.
    5. Since Nazareth was certainly Mary’s hometown, Joseph and Mary’s engagement was most likely long-distance, arranged by their respective families in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth (Luke 1: 39-56). The traditional location of Elizabeth and Zechariah’s home is called Ein Karem, only four miles from Bethlehem. So, immediately upon discovering she was pregnant, Mary traveled nine days south to a town four miles from Bethlehem, where she would spend the next three months.
    6. Since Joseph’s hometown was Bethlehem, then it would have been during this time that Joseph visited Mary and learned that his betrothed was pregnant. It would have been during this time, these first three months of Mary’s pregnancy, that Joseph would have had his own “annunciation” by means of a dream.
    7. I learned something recently and that is Following those events, he would have taken Mary back to Nazareth, where the couple was married and began their life together until forced to return to Bethlehem for the census.
    8. Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” It was home to laborers and sheepherders, but it was also home to farmers who grew wheat and barley and likely to millers and bakers— hence the name, “House of Bread.” We can surmise that bread was baked there and then probably delivered to customers in Jerusalem.
    9. Bethlehem and Nazareth were both common, ordinary places. Joseph was a common, ordinary man.
    10. A few years ago I mentioned that Joseph would have been a common day laborer and I received a question later on. Carpenter in that day was not the same as a carpenter today. As I wrote in my Chimes article, to be a carpenter meant “one who works with their hands.”
    11. There was not a lot of wood in Israel and Joseph likely worked with stone or even in the fields. This was a common, ordinary job. It was not a respectable job. It was hard work. It was back breaking work. The occupation was just above the servant status.
    12. Joseph was ordinary. Don’t discount what God will do through the ordinary.
  2. God did the extraordinary through Joseph.
  1. Joseph could have had Mary stoned. He could have divorced her. But he did not. First he could expose her as unfaithful and maybe she could be stoned, though that was rare in the first century. She would probably suffer shame of a public divorce. (Deut. 22:23-24)
  2. A second option was to grant her a private divorce, in which case Joseph needed only to hand her a written certificate in the presence of two witnesses (cf. Num. 5:11-31).75
  3. His third option was to remain engaged and not divorce Mary, but this alternative appeared to Joseph to require him to break the Mosaic Law (Lev. 20:10).
    1. You know I bet that once it was out that Mary was pregnant Joseph had all kinds of people telling him what to do. Don’t you think there were many people telling Joseph their opinion? If your spouse is pregnant by another man wouldn’t some of your co workers be telling you various things? People are probably telling Joseph to have her stoned. People are probably telling him to make a statement with this. People are probably telling him to divorce her quietly. And I am sure he has friends saying, “Ya know Joseph, I have known Mary’s family. We are waiting on the Messiah, maybe she is pregnant by the Holy Spirit.” There may be those saying, “Ya know Joseph, I have heard about Zechariah the priest, his wife wasn’t supposed to get pregnant and she is. Supposedly, he saw the angel Gabriel. Maybe God is doing something new. Maybe you should believe her.”
      1. God spoke to Joseph in a dream. (Matthew 1:20-21) Joseph obeyed. Joseph likely went to see Mary while she was at Elizabeth’s place and that is when he found out she was pregnant. In the walk home he may have been boiling. He might have been weeping as he walked away. But he calmed down. He would have had about a ninety minute walk home. During this time he must have thought about how much the news would damage Mary. He must have thought about how she could be stoned. Then God spoke to Joseph.
      2. He surrendered to the Lord (verses 20-25 show how he followed what the Angel of the Lord said. Verse 24 specifically says that he obeyed)
      3. So verse 19 says that he would divorce her quietly.
      4. Verse 19 says that he was going to do that because he was a righteous man.
      5. Then verse 20 has the angel of the Lord coming to Joseph in a dream. The child to be conceived is from the Holy Spirit.
      6. Verse 21 has the angel telling Joseph that He will save His people from their sins. Then verse 22 is stating that this is happening to fulfill what and Isaiah 7:14 says. Verse 23: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).
      7. Verses 24-25 show that Joseph obeyed what the angel said.
      8. Joseph was faithful to God’s Word including purity (Verse 25 says that he kept her a virgin until the birth.).
      9. This was the man who was the earthly father of Christ the King.
  • The purpose of this passage is not to talk about ordinary, the purpose is to talk about the birth of Jesus. But God did use the ordinary.
    1. Are you willing to be used of God?
    2. What about ordinary people, events, places, do you discount them?
    3. Do you think, “God could never use me…”?
    4. Do you discount others?
    5. Now, notice that Joseph obeyed and we must as well. Notice that many times in Scriptures God uses people who were discounted such as John 8 and the woman in adultery, but also notice that Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
    6. But He first said, “I do not condemn you” (she was given forgiveness) and we all need forgiven, we need to know that we are forgiven.  It is that forgiveness that drives us to serve God, to live for Him, to honor Him.  Forgiveness is a stronger force than saying “go sin no more.” The “sin no more part” will naturally follow and flow out of our gratitude of being forgiven so extravagantly, so completely. How can we resist loving a God who does that? How can we resist giving our all for Him who gave His all? How can we resist doing whatever He asks of us?  If we do resist, then we either do not have an understanding of His extravagant forgiveness or we are unable to forgive ourselves.  But He has forgiven us, so if we refuse to forgive ourselves, we are sinning by not accepting His forgiveness.[1]
    7. We must follow Him. Are you following?
    8. Follow Jesus, God will use you.
    9. Trust that God will use your children and grandchildren as well. Trust that God will show up and use the most unlikely of circumstances.
    10. I believe this and I believe this is so that He is more glorified. Our lives are about God’s glory.

In a short devotional for Christmas, writer Paul Williams reflects on why he still remembers one particular Christmas pageant from 1981. It all starts with a strep-stricken son. He writes:

The dull eyes tipped me off before he could open his mouth. Jonathan had strep throat. It seemed the children in our family picked up strep two or three times a year, and someone always had it during the holidays.

Jonathan had been excited about the nursery school Christmas play for a couple of weeks. He would be Joseph. Mary would be played by a Jewish girl from down the block. Yes, her parents had given permission for her to be in the Christmas pageant.

With neck glands swollen and his voice a nasally whine, Jonathan begged to go to the festivities. Against our better judgment, we acquiesced. Bundling our son in his warmest coat, we drove the five short miles to the Central Islip Church of Christ. By the time all the parents had squeezed into the small auditorium, Jonathan was as white as the pillowcase he was wearing as a head covering. He looked fragile and diminutive.

Cathy and I sat on the front row. Jonathan came down the aisle hand in hand with Mary, and the two sat down on the second step below the manger, recently retrieved from its usual home in the boiler room. Jonathan was looking paler still, all the light out of his big blue eyes. He looked at us and managed a weak smile.

As soon as the play was over we hauled Jonathan off to the doctor’s office. Since our family doctor was a friend, we sneaked in and out in no time. Filled with penicillin, our son was feeling better the next morning. I do not remember much about the rest of that Christmas season, though I am sure it was utterly delightful, as all Christmas celebrations are.

I have often pondered why that is my only remembrance of that Christmas, in December of 1981. Of all the memories of all our family Christmas experiences, what makes that one event stand out?

I know the reason.

Christmas is truly about frail vulnerability, freely chosen. With heart in throat God watched his infant Son cry and squirm in the cold manger, where there was no penicillin.

I know how I felt watching my son with his head resting in those small hands, wanting to be brave, but weak and unsteady. I can only imagine what my heavenly Father thought, seeing his infant Son in the hands of a frightened young girl.[2]

Used by permission. For more articles like this, visitChristianStandard.com.

Paul Williams, “And So It Goes: One Christmas Pageant,”ChristianStandard.com(11-18-09)

 

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] Janet Wise’s comments

[2] http://www.preachingtoday.com/search/?query=joseph&searcharea=illustrations&type=keyword

Mary of Nazareth

 

Okay, let’s have a Christmas pageant. Let’s just pretend for a moment:

Who wants to be the innkeeper? Raise your hand

 

Who wants to be Joseph? Raise your hand, someone be Joseph.

 

Who wants to be the camel? Ha ha, come on someone play a camel.

 

Who wants to be the wisemen? Raise your hand.

 

Who else do we need? Who wants to be shepherds? We need several raise your hands.

 

Who wants to be the doctor? The doctor? She was having a baby, do you think there was a doctor there? No, there was not. Who wants to be the nurse? Who wants to be the mother of Mary.

 

No nurse.

No doctor.

No Mother.

 

Who wants to be Mary? Someone raise your hand.

 

Do you think Mary wanted to be Mary?

 

Have you ever been asked to did a difficult task, maybe an honorable task, a noble task, but you did not know that you could do it? Have you been there?

 

I am thinking that is where Mary was at. Mary was a world changer. She changed the world as the mother of Jesus. We would not be here if it were not for Mary. Think about this: We have a mission statement from Matthew 28:19-20: Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit… We wish to reach the lost, nurture faith and meet family needs. This could not happen without Mary. Mary gave birth to the One who gave that commission.

 

Let’s look at Mary’s commissioning: Luke 1:26-38:

26 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. 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. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 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.”

34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

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. 36 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.”

38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

 

Theme:

I wish to show you that Mary was highly favored for a difficult task which she humbly accepted.

 

Application:

Sometimes God’s call is not easy. Accept the call as Mary did.

 

 

  1. I want to focus on one word and that is “Highly Favored.”
    1. This word is the word for “grace.”
    2. It is only used in this way in Ephesians 1:6 having to do with God giving us His grace.
    3. This verse is saying that Mary has received God’s grace or God’s favor.
    4. This is Gabriel’s greeting to Mary. Gabriel says, “The Lord is with you.
    5. She is twice told that she has received grace or favor, in verse 28 and verse 30: But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 
    6. As one writes about grace: Grace is at the center of what God was doing in Christmas. The child to be born of Mary would embody and incarnate grace. His message would be a message of grace. His life would demonstrate grace to sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. They had been taught that there was no place for them in the synagogue, that God’s judgment and wrath was upon them; Jesus devoted his life to showing them that it was God’s love, mercy, and kindness that were offered to them. Jesus showed them grace.[1]
    7. Do we realize who she would be the mother to:
    8. Those who wrote the great hymns of Christmas know it.  They’ve always known it.  Our carols celebrate it.  “Joy to the world, the Lord is come.”  “Yea, Lord, we great Thee, born this happy morning,” “Come adore on bended knee Christ the Lord,” “Christ by highest heaven adored, Christ the everlasting Lord,” “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the Incarnate Deity.”  “Jesus, our Immanuel.”  “Yet in the dark street shineth the everlasting light.”  “Oh come with us, abide with us, our Lord, Immanuel.”  The carol says, “Jesus, Lord at Thy birth,” “Incense owns a Deity nigh,” “The virgin’s sweet boy is the Lord of the earth,”  “Word of the Father now in flesh appearing,”  “How that in Bethlehem was born the Son of God by name,”  “God with man is now residing, suddenly the Lord descending.”  The carol says, “Thou didst leave Thy throne and Thy kingly crown when Thou camest to earth for me.”  “And the Father gave His Son, gave His own beloved One.”  Son of the Most High, Son of God, God in human flesh; this amazing child is God come down. Grace has power. When you show kindness, compassion, goodness, or love to someone who does not deserve it, the act of grace has the power to change hearts, to heal broken relationships, and to reconcile people and even nations. Grace changes the one who receives it, but it also changes the one who gives it.[2]
    9. She certainly is the mother of God, she raised Jesus.
    10. Do you think she was happy for this task?
  2. Let’s talk more about Mary.
    1. Mary was from a tiny town called Nazareth.
    2. Nazareth would not even make it on a list of cities. It was just a tiny little village.
    3. We would think if God was going to send His Son into the world He would pick a woman from Rome or Jerusalem, but He didn’t.
    4. I believe God wanted to show that He chooses the nobodies.
    5. Mary was likely 13 years old. Think about that.
    6. She was from humble beginnings.
    7. She was likely uneducated.
    8. She was likely raised to be very devoted to God.
    9. Mary is told how things will happen. The power of God, the Most High, will overshadow her. Mary is not told exactly what is going to happen, but if God did not cause her to conceive then Jesus would be a clone of her. People have lacked faith in the virgin birth in the past, but with all of the science these days and how we can artificially inseminate, do we really need to doubt God?
    10. So, Mary is told exactly what will happen.
    11. We know that Mary could be stoned because it looks like she committed adultery. (Lev. 20:10)
    12. Again, I come back to the question: Do you think Mary wanted to be Mary?
    13. Do you think Mary wanted to go and tell Joseph she was pregnant? Do you think Mary was scared? Do you think Mary was concerned to tell her parents? Having a baby in itself was scary back then, but all these responsibilities and the great humility as well.
      1. Mary would tell her relative and Joseph. Mary goes to visit Elizabeth and then we have the Magnificant…
      2. Chrissy Rigney
  • Let’s look at Mary’s response. Verse 38: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.
    1. Sometimes the Lord’s calling is not easy but we must follow through.
    2. We must follow through like Mary did and just respond, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
    3. Can we respond this way? Can we respond to God’s Word and honorably say, “I am the Lord’s servant I will tell the truth.”
      1. “I am the Lord’s servant I will follow the rules.”
      2. “I am the Lord’s servant I will walk in integrity.”
  • “I am the Lord’s servant I will not spread that rumor.”
  1. “I am the Lord’s servant I will not gossip on Facebook.”
  2. “I am the Lord’s servant I won’t look at that website.”
  3. “I am the Lord’s servant I will not have road rage.”
  • “I am the Lord’s servant I will apologize for my behavior.”
  • “I am the Lord’s servant I will treat people with respect.”
  1. “I am the Lord’s servant I will share the Gospel with people, pray, read the Bible, work at the food pantry, help someone with a meal, give someone grace.”
  2. I am the Lord’s servant… you pray about it and live like Mary.

 

Remember grace, favor, it is such a gift. That was such a privilege for Mary. Give people grace this week. Give people favor this week.

 

Remember the quote I shared:

 

Grace is at the center of what God was doing in Christmas. The child to be born of Mary would embody and incarnate grace. His message would be a message of grace. His life would demonstrate grace to sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes. They had been taught that there was no place for them in the synagogue, that God’s judgment and wrath was upon them; Jesus devoted his life to showing them that it was God’s love, mercy, and kindness that were offered to them. Jesus showed them grace.[3]

 

Be encouraged we have all received God’s grace.

So I ask, would you want to be Mary? But remember Mary’s response, you can respond the same way.

Do you know Jesus?

God created us to be with him. (Genesis 1-2)

Our sin separated us from God. (Genesis 3)

Sins cannot be removed by good deeds (Gen 4-Mal 4)

Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew – Luke)

Everyone who trusts in him alone has eternal life. (John – Jude)

Life that’s eternal means we will be with Jesus forever. (Revelation 22:5)

Pray

 

[1] Hamilton, Adam (2011-09-01). The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem (Kindle Locations 238-242). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.

[2] http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/42-7/the-greatest-child-ever-born

[3] Hamilton, Adam (2011-09-01). The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem (Kindle Locations 238-242). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.