This week, we’re continuing our message series entitled, “Christmas.” Through one of the greatest events in human history, we learn an amazing truth about God. Paul wrote about this truth about God here:
1 Corinthians 1:26-31
26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Through this series, we’ll look at key individuals in the Christmas account and see just how true it is that God chooses the lowly things of this world, the things that are not, and does the impossible through them so that anyone who boasts will boast in the Lord alone!
Last week, we were challenged to wholly and completely commit ourselves to God who is always trustworthy even as Elizabeth and Zechariah did. The miraculous birth of their child, John (the Baptist) in their old age proves that God hears our every prayer. As we, like them, faithfully serve God and trust Him in all things, our reward will be rich. His desire is always not only to bless us, but to bless others through our lives so that He alone receives the glory.
That 400 year silence where God was deciding whether to destroy the earth or to turn the hearts of parents and children toward each other was broken with not just one miraculous birth to the least likely of parents, but two children.
Elizabeth and Zechariah had waited decades earnestly seeking after a child way beyond their child bearing years. This morning, we turn to the next couple to whom expecting a child was the least desirable thing for them; Mary and Joseph.
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.
39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned home.
Now to gain fuller insight into this, we’ll also turn to Joseph’s side of the account:
18 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 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.
Elizabeth and Zechariah reminded us to trust God and remain faithfully committed to Him. Mary and Joseph remind us of that old adage that God often works in mysterious ways. In fact, scripture reveals over and over again that He works in ways that we might least likely consider. That’s why we must be very cautious when we choose to label as being Godly and what is not.
It’s easy for us to read through this account and not truly understand what Mary and Joseph experienced. Many of us were young and in love; engaged to be married. We can recall the excitement and even a bit of nervous uncertainty in our relationship. Maybe we’ve even had those, “no, you hang up” conversations late at night when you just wanted to be with that person every second of every day. Then, you got married… 🙂
Can you imagine being Mary? We really don’t get a glimpse into her family life, but we can only imagine how her family responded to her. “Hey mom and dad, I have something very important to tell you. I’m pregnant. No, Joseph and I are still virgins, I swear! It’s Yahweh’s son. The Holy Spirit impregnated me. An angel told me so.” We’re not sure whether her family supported her through this pregnancy or not.
Not only did she have to deal with all of the gossip and shame heaped onto her from everyone, but she possessed the truth that she was carrying God’s own son within her womb. It would have been stressful enough feeling alone and going through her first pregnancy. Can you imagine that added pressure? God chose you to give birth to His one and only Son, the savior of all mankind! And you ladies though you were under pressure to eat right and stay healthy through your pregnancies!
Of course, giving birth was just the beginning. She then had to raise a perfect and sinless child who was going to be her own savior! Young couples being exactly that, they forgot just how busy it would be come census time and apparently forgot to make reservations. You can imagine Captain Obvious’ response when they came to him looking to book a room at hotels.com. The Son of God ended up being born in a manger.
We know that she thought of this reality often. We’re all familiar with the account when the angelic host shared the good news of the Messiah who had just been born with the shepherds. Then:
16 the shepherds hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Also, a man who met them in the temple and spoke of this infant not only fulfilling a prophetic word given to him, but also gave a powerful word about how this child would be the light for revelation to the Gentiles and the glory for all the people of Israel; that He would pierce and reveal the hearts of many including those of His own parents. This word had both Joseph and Mary contemplating:
33 The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.
Can you imagine being Joseph? You’re in your teen years and engaged to an awesome, godly girl that you’re crazy about. You dream about the rest of your lives together and consider all of the awesome possibilities. Then, one day, she tells you that she’s pregnant. Oh, not to worry, though. She didn’t cheat on you, it was the Holy Spirit that impregnated her. An angel told her so!
In their culture at that time, he could have had her stoned to death in that very moment. However, since he truly loved her, yet still obviously didn’t believe her story, he planned to end the relationship quietly. Knowing of his plans, God sent an angel to Joseph as well to confirm Mary’s account that this was actually true.
Mary and Joseph faced troubles and difficulties beyond what any of us have ever faced, yet God never left them alone just as He never leaves us alone. An angel warned them to flee to Egypt as King Herod had all boys in the vicinity of Bethlehem two years and younger killed. Can you imagine being this young couple and realizing that some of the most powerful people in the world are attempting to murder your newborn?
They were now forced to live as fugitives in an unfamiliar land away from their friends, families, and what they knew as home. Their travels undoubtedly brought them through dangerous stretches of roads where thieves often struck. It is easy to read in a few verses of where they travelled and completely miss the difficulties that those travels were; especially during the end of Mary’s pregnancy.
Even when an angel told Joseph that Herod and all that wanted to kill Jesus were dead, he was afraid to return home finding out that Herod’s son succeeded him. They settled in a town called Nazareth in the district of Galilee where the odds were ever in their favor.
Can you imagine being Mary and Joseph living on the run, but by doing so, fulfilling the ancient prophecies one-by-one spoken about the coming Messiah? They were becoming two of the greatest parents to ever live, living out one of the greatest stories to ever be told. All of these extreme and seemingly random situations which they were forced into were all well known by God thousands of years before they ever took place.
They humbly and faithfully served God, and were therefore chosen by Him to be entrusted with the greatest gift anyone could ever receive. God entrusted the entire life of His son into the hands of a young, inexperienced, poor couple whose relationship barely survived the initial news of His birth.
God uses ordinary people to do the extraordinary. He uses the weak to overpower the strong. He uses the poor and freely gives them His Kingdom’s riches. He equips those He calls regardless of their natural abilities. He works all things together for good if we only choose to trust Him and remain faithful to Him.
God is not finished writing history just yet. If God chose to entrust the savior of all mankind into the hands of Mary and Joseph, what is it that He wants to entrust into our lives? What is it that He desires to do in and through our lives?
We have to stop disqualifying ourselves because we’re not whatever-enough. We use every excuse in the book! Too sinful, too shy, too awkward, not this, not that, someone better can do it. We set ourselves up with enough doubt in our minds that we should expect to receive nothing from God.
God sees us much differently. He sees us as fully qualified because of the blood shed by His Son, fully equipped, just right, and having more than enough resources to change the world from now until forever. Not only for the people around us, but even to every nation and to the ends of the earth.
God sees the signet ring that He placed on our finger, the seal of the Holy Spirit within us, and grants us full access to His entire Kingdom. Why is it that we’re still wallowing in the pig-sties of life jealous of what the hogs are eating and wondering when we’ll ever catch our big break?
Rise up! You already have everything you need and then some! You are exactly right for what God is calling you to do! You are more than enough!
We’ll close on this thought:
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.