Back to the Best of Christmas
Part 1: Mary’s Message to Us
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Dec. 4, 2011
*Did you ever wish you could go back to the first Christmas?
Back to Bethlehem, back to the angels, the shepherds, and the baby Savior in the manger?
*We can't go back to Bethlehem, but we can go back to the best of Christmas!
-God wants you to experience the best things about Christmas.
-And we can see them in this Scripture.
1. First, God wants you to have the gift of His grace.
*One of the best things about Christmas is the gift of God’s grace, and we see this in vs. 26-30:
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
27. to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David.
The virgin's name was Mary.
And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!''
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
*When you read that, you might think that Mary had done something very special to earn God’s favor, but she was only 14 or 15 years old.
-That’s not a lot of time to do anything for the Lord.
-And that word “favor” in vs. 30 is the same Greek word we translate as “grace.”
*“Mary, you’ve found grace with God!”
This means you have found God’s sweetness, loveliness, joy and delight.
You have found God’s good will and His merciful loving-kindness.
*Mary did no great feats to earn the blessing of being the Lord’s mother.
-Did she have great knowledge of God’s Word?
-Had she won great battles?
-Had she given great sums of money to help the poor?
-Had she preached to thousands?
-Had she healed the sick?
-Had she devoted years of service to God?
-Had she done anything noteworthy for the Lord?
-- Not that we know of.
*There was nothing Mary did to be born a woman.
-There was nothing she did to be born a descendant of King David.
(And that was essential for the mother of the Messiah.)
-There was also nothing Mary did to be living in Nazareth.
(That was important, because the prophets had said that the Messiah would be called a Nazarene.)
*All of these essential qualifications came only by the grace of Almighty God.
*Don’t get me wrong.
Mary was surely a Godly and special woman.
But just like you, she was a sinner who needed a Savior.
And Mary found the gift of God’s grace.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
*This was a fairly common expression in the Old Testament.
The first time we see it was when God decided to destroy the old world with a flood.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
*There was a wonderful word picture behind the Old Testament word for “favor” or “grace”:
-Someone who was superior stooping down in kindness to help.
-Someone who was superior stooping down to have mercy on someone inferior.
*Think of a loving parent who stoops down to help a child in need.
That’s a picture of God’s grace.
And He wants you to have His grace.
*Mary found the gift of God’s grace.
How did she find it?
-- The same way that anybody can find it, the only way that anybody can find it: Through faith.
*Christians are saved by grace through faith in God, so Mary had already been trusting in the Lord.
Now she would have to trust Him much more, as He called her to miraculously be the mother of the Messiah.
*And she did trust in the Lord.
By faith, Mary found “grace” or “favor” with God.
-And so can you.
God wants you to have the gift of His grace.
2. And He wants you to know about His kingdom.
*One of the best things about Christmas is getting to learn about God’s kingdom.
And there are some vital things to learn in vs. 31-35.
Here Gabriel told Mary:
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.
And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.”
*God wants you to know about His kingdom, and we find much of this knowledge in the Christmas story.
*Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion about Christmas.
Most people do not understand that Christmas is about the Kingdom of God.
*James Fallows was a long-time correspondent in Asia for “The Atlantic Monthly”.
He once saw an unusual Christmas display in a large Japanese department store.
This bizarre display featured Santa Claus holding the baby Jesus in a sleigh pulled by the seven dwarfs.
*Many people close to home are just as clueless about the true meaning of Christmas.
Rodney Buchanan told about a friend who gave a Bible to someone who was going through a difficult time.
This man was in real need.
His life had been marked by one disastrous decision after another.
And he had no idea how much he needed the Lord.
*Rodney said, “As my friend gave a Bible to this person, and encouraged him to read it, he suggested that he might start by reading the Christmas story, since it was that time of year.”
*The man looked at him with real surprise and said, ‘You mean the Christmas story is in the Bible?’” (2)
*I know that sounds ridiculous to us.
But this is the world we live in today.
-People desperately need to know the true meaning of Christmas.
-People desperately need to know about God’s Kingdom.
*The angel Gabriel revealed this Kingdom knowledge to Mary.
And here in His Word, God reveals it to us.
 In vs. 31 we learn that God wants to save your soul.
*We can see it in the Lord’s name.
Gabriel told Mary, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.”
This name, His name “Jesus” means “Jehovah is salvation.”
-And Jesus wants to save your soul!
 Next in vs. 32 we learn that Jesus is the Son of the Highest.
That is to say, He is the Son of God.
*God became a man:
-Conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary.