Luke 1:26-38 - The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Heralding Christ (Advent 2023)  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  43:01
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Introduction:
Good Morning.
If you have your bibles with you let me invite you to open with me to the gospel of Luke.
This is a break from our normal teaching rhythm.
We have been journeying verse-by-verse through 1 Corinthians since August… and we will continue that study, picking up with chapter 7 after the new year…,
but every year we pause for a season of “advent”…
A season of remembering the coming of Christ into the world, and a season of looking forward to his second coming.
This seasonal tradition is not commanded in Scripture…, but the church has historically recognized the value of pausing annually to meditate upon some of the most important stories and doctrines to our faith.
Its a moment, where we return again to the basics of our faith…,
The basics that just happen to be the most profound truths and the most shocking miracle in the history of creation.
I agree with Dr. Maryn Lloyd Jones when he writes,
“It is a very good thing in the Christian life to stand back periodically and look at this great plan. That is why I think it is important to observe Christmas Day, and Good Friday, and Easter Sunday, and to preach on those days.” - Martyn Lloyd Jones, Great Doctrines of the bible
Thats what we aim to do for the next month.
We aim to step back,
to look at some familiar stories,
and to pray God stirs our hearts in awe of them once again.
We begin with Luke chapter 1.
Luke 1:26–37 ESV
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from 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. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Lets Pray
In his commentary on Luke, J.C. Ryle begins his commentary on this text in this way...
“We have, in these verses, the announcement of the most marvelous event that ever happened in this world - the incarnation and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a passage which we should always read with mingled wonder, love, and praise.” - J.C. Ryle
And the first thing I want you to take note of in this passage is the historical nature of it.
Luke 1:26 ESV
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
This story does not begin with “once upon a time, in a land far far away.”
This paragraph begins with
in the sixth month…
not the fifth… not the fourth… but the sixth....
And not in some undisclosed fairy tale place…
but its a city named Nazareth in the province of Galilee.
In this very real city.
In this very real time.
A heavenly being appeared to a very real person.
Luke 1:27 ESV
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.
An angel named Gabriel appears to a woman named Mary who is betrothed to a man named Joseph whose family line goes all the way back to a King named David.
These are real people whose very normal lives were very much interrupted by God.
In fact, Luke’s introduction suggests to us that this account we are reading comes from Mary’s eye witness account of what happened on this day in the sixth month in the city of Nazareth.

Truth #1 Jesus’ Birth was a Historical Event

This is recorded and written as eye witness history, not fable.
Luke makes this clear.
Look with me at Luke 1:1-4
Luke 1:1–4 ESV
Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.
The purpose Luke’s gospel is clear.
This book was written to provide you with historical testimony so that you might have certainty concerning the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.
This is a very important point to keep before us.
If we are not careful we can reduce our Christianity and especially this Christmas season to a tradition of mythical story telling.
But that is not what the Bible claims to do,
and that is not what we claim to do here at our church.
We are very much a reasonable people, who very much believe that the world we live in was created by one true God.
And we very much believe that the one and only true Creator, also put forth a plan from before the foundation of the world…
a plan to glorify himself,
a plan to redeem this world from human rebellion and sin.
And we celebrate Christmas in remembrance of a climactic moment in that plan…, the birth of Jesus Christ.
now lets shift to the actual message this heavenly messenger of God brought with him.
I believe there are two kinds of things to focus on in this story.
First, there is the message of the Angel itself about the birth of Jesus.
And secondly, there is the very real experience and model of Mary and how she is responding to God.
So lets tackle one at a time starting with the message itself.
What is the announcement?
Luke 1:28–30 ESV
28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Any and every appearance of an angelic being in the Bible is a somewhat shocking experience.
It doesn’t happen every day.
It is not common place.
It is not God’s usual course of action.
The appearance of an angelic being is and was a big deal.
We don’t know what this looked like or sounded like or felt like, but we do know that Mary was troubled by it.
She did not assume that this was a good thing for her.
She wants to know what kind of greeting this was.
She’s fearful, that this angelic being has shown up perhaps to bring judgment.
She is fearful to be in the presence of a holy angel of God, because there is at least some recognition that she is not holy enough to be in the presence of such majesty.
The angel, however, is quick to ease her trouble.
He refers to her as “favored” one
He encourages her not to be afraid
And he reassures her that God is with her not for judgment, but for her good.
God has interrupted this young woman’s story,
not to judge her,
but to bless her with an unimaginable gift of grace.
God is about to bless Marry with grace…, that is undeserved favor.
Nothing particularly note-worthy is said about Mary here.
She is not praised for any good work.
She is not of noble birth or high socio-economic status.
She is a a girl betrothed to a man, likely living a somewhat impoverished life in an unimportant city.
And thus, we are introduced to a God who is graciously drawing near to a remarkably unremarkable people.
We are introduced to a God who shows favor with those in the world who would be seen as unworthy to the world.
God intends to show his favor upon Mary… by blessing this seemingly insignificant woman with what is one of the most significant roles in redemptive history.
She will give birth the promised one… the salvation of the world.
Luke 1:31–33 ESV
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Its hard to overstate the significance of what Gabriel has just revealed to Mary.
Firstly, consider the name Jesus. It means salvation.
Mary will give birth to a son named for the salvation he will accomplish.
He will sit on the throne of David.
He will reign forever as King, and
His kingdom will have no end.
In other words, Mary is going to give birth to the son that God has been promising since Genesis chapter 3.
Mary is going to give birth to the one whom every Old Testament author has been longing to see.
When Adam and Eve rebelled in the garden…
they were given a word of hope…
a word of hope about a future offspring.
Speaking to the serpent, God made this promise.
Genesis 3:15 ESV
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
For centuries, the people of God recognized a promise in those words. An offspring of eve would crush the head of the evil one.
from that moment as early as Genesis 3, child bearing became very important to every Hebrew family.
In Genesis 12, God makes a promise to Abraham that his offspring would become a blessing to all the families of the earth.
God makes a promise to King David, that one of his offspring would establish God’s kingdom on earth forever.
The Old Testament story is a story of God’s people looking forward to and waiting for an offspring…,
someone who would reverse the curse…,
someone who would sit on the throne.
someone who would defeat our enemies…
Listen to God’s promise to King David.
2 Samuel 7:16 ESV
16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’ ”
That had yet to happen…, no offspring of the house of David had ever been able to establish an eternal kingdom.
The prophets anticipated that this offspring of David yet to come was going to be something even more profound.
Isaiah 9:6 ESV
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Someone unique was coming.
And now after thousands of years, and even after hundreds of years of God’s silence since the writing of the book of Malachi...., Mary is announced to be the birth mother of THE promised offspring.

Truth #2 Jesus’ Birth was a Fulfillment of God’s Promises

You can’t appreciate the celebration of Christmas, until you feel the longing with which the Old Testament people of God longed for the arrival of this Jesus - this salvation - this king.
Peter articulates this perspective in 1 Peter 1.
1 Peter 1:10–12 ESV
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
The prophets of old searched and inquired and predicted and longed to see the promised offspring of God.
The angel could simply reference the promise about the offspring of King David.., because he could assume that even Mary herself would understand what this meant.
1 Peter says even the angels themselves longed to look at the fruition of this eternal plan of God.
And now, out of all the women in the history of the world…,
God was going to use this seemingly insignificant, impoverished, teenager from Nazareth, to be the birth mother of the salvation, the blessing, the offspring, the king, the fulfilled promises of God.
And you in the room here at St. Rose Community Church, of all the people in human history… you get to hold in your hand the written record of these events telling the story of fulfilled promises.
You get to look back on the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of this Jesus.
You get to read the record of his teaching and his work.
Christmas is in part about a God who keeps promises in his timing…
and we get the privilege of looking backwards at thousands of years of promises being fulfilled in the birth of Jesus.
and as we reflect back on the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises with Jesus’ birth…,
We are reminded that there are still promises that Jesus himself made to us that we have yet to experience.
As we consider the fulfillment of old promises…, our faith is strengthened to trust God’s promises we are still waiting for.
Truth #2 Jesus’ Birth was a Fulfillment of God’s Promises
but Jesus’ birth even exceeded anyone’s understanding of what those promises entailed.
Even Mary was a bit confused on the details at first.
Luke 1:34 ESV
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
thats a good question.
The Bible is full of miracle births… but not of this kind.
over and over again, we find women in the Old Testament grieving over the fact that they are barren.
They are unable to have their own children …, and throughout redemptive history God establishes this repeated pattern where he intervenes, and he causes the barren woman to have a miracle child whom God will use for his purposes…,
The pattern occurs so often, you have to begin to think that the pattern is preparing us for something that God is going to do through a miracle child.
In fact, that was just the case with the announcement earlier in Luke chapter 1.
Elizabeth and Zechariah were unable to have children…, Gabriel visited them and promised the birth of John the Baptist very much like God had done throughout redemptive history.
This promise to Mary, however, is different.
This is similar, but different than anything God has ever done in the history of the world.
The author gives us the announcement of John’s birth to a barren woman first…,
and then this announcement to showcase that something even crazier is happening here.
We are given the foreshadowing pattern… and now we are given the fulfillment of the real miracle birth we have all been waiting for.
Mary will conceive and have a son though she has never been with a man.
And she asks how?
here’s Gabriel’s answer:
Luke 1:35–37 ESV
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Truth #3 Jesus’ Birth was a Miracle Birth

The Old Testament very clearly anticipated a coming king, a coming savior…,
But this announcement not only fulfills Old Testament promises…, it exceeds everyone’s assumptions.
This baby is going to be more than a deliverer,
more than a king,
more than a leader of military conquest.
more than a miracle baby to a barren woman.
He was going to be the Son of the Living God…
He was going to be the very essence of the eternal God himself taking on human flesh.
The Holy Spirit of God, without the help of a biological male counter part, was going to create miracle human life in Mary’s womb… the life of God himself, taking on biological humanity.
God the Son, eternally existent, would now step into the created order, in physical flesh and DNA of a fetus in a womb.
This is shocking.
It is notably shocking.
The angel anticipates just how shocking and immediately goes into an argument for why Mary should not reject this as being possible.
He says,
Luke 1:36 ESV
36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren.
In other words, God has already done a miracle in your barren relative Elizabeth.
He is in the miracle business.., but you have to remember this theological truth.
Luke 1:37 ESV
37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
The incarnation of Jesus Christ is mind imploding.
That God would somehow, someway, take on human flesh.
But the moment that you say God exists… you have to then concede that nothing is impossible for that eternal God.
He is eternally unbound by the restrictions and regulations of any created order or human expectation.
He is above and beyond and before created order.
He created the created order.
There is nothing that is impossible for God.
The very fact that something exists rather than nothing is an amazing and unexplainable reality without coming to terms with the existence of an eternal unbound, all powerful, all knowing God.
If God is God, then God can do whatever he wants however he wants whenever he wants to do it.
And that God… existing from eternity past as a Father, Son, and Spirit…, became a human baby…
...so that in one person human nature and divine nature would walk on Earth and fulfill the eternal plan of God.
Perhaps it sounds crazy to you....
but what we hold in our hands is a historical record of eye witness accounts all of them in agreement that this Jesus was born to a virgin woman…,
that he then lived a remarkable life, doing miracles that only God could do in front of thousands .., and then he died and rose again from the grave after three days.... after which he sent his holy spirit and empowered the spread of this message for the last 2,000 years.
There is nothing that is impossible with God.
So every Christmas…, we remind ourselves of what is one of the greatest miracles and what is one of the most glorious mysteries in all of history.
Sit on the wonder of the testimony of Scripture for just a moment.
John 1:1–4 ESV
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
John 1:14 ESV
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Philippians 2:6–10 ESV
6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Colossians 1:15–20 ESV
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
In this God-man…
Jesus of Nazareth truly God, truly man, born to a virgin… God united himself to humanity and was making a way for humanity to be united to him.
because
nothing is impossible with God.
Thats the announcement here…, now lets conclude by considering Mary’s response in all of this...
It should be noted here that nowhere in the gospels or in any book of the Bible for that manner, is it commanded or alluded to that we should some how pray to Mary or worship Mary or that Mary was at all sinless.
This text is clear, that God is the sole initiator here…, and that Jesus himself will be the one worthy of worship…
We are not told anything super special about Mary upon her introduction other than that God showed favor upon her by his grace.
That being said, Mary absolutely provides us with a model response to God here in verse 34.
Mary’s understanding of all that Jesus will do here is limited…, but she seems to believe Gabriel’s last statement that
“Nothing will be impossible for God.”
And this is her response:
Luke 1:38 ESV
38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Without full understanding,
and probably with a little fear of what was to come…
Mary humbly submits herself to the will of God expressed in the word of God.
Mary models for us here what the Christian life will require..... humble faith in an all powerful God…
She does quite see or understand the circumstances she has been thrust into…, but she understands that God is with her and that God is sovereignly accomplishing his purpose.

Truth #4 Jesus’ Birth Demands the Response of Humble Faith

As we will see throughout the story in the coming days…,
the birth of Jesus into the world was one of unexpectedly humble beginnings…,
Not only do we see God the Son humbling himself by stepping into human flesh…
we see that it is the humble whom he reveals himself to and whom he uses for his great purposes.
None of us have a calling quite like Mary…, but all of us are called to relate to God like Mary related to God.
We receive the grace of God through humble faith in Jesus…,
Mary’s disposition is the the disposition of saving faith.
This is the pathway to eternal life.
The Jesus she would give birth to would invite the world to have this kind of faith and thus receive eternal life.
John 3:16 ESV
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
We receive eternal life by grace through faith like this.
We seek to live our lives with a faith like this.
Every day we wake up and we seek to live this declaration.
“behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
That is the prayer Jesus would teach to his disciples.
“Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Thats the prayer Jesus would live out most perfectly until his dying breath.
“Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me, nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.”
We humbly believe that God’s way is better than our way…,
we believe any circumstance that he providentially deems good for us is in fact good for us..,
and thus we joyfully submit and accept his word for us… even when we don’t fully understand it all.
we do this in our fight against sin.
we do this in our suffering.
we do this in the struggle of mission and ministry.
and the daily mundane grind of life in a broken world.
We do not worship Mary in this church…, but my goodness… we do worship the same God Mary worshipped....
and we should seek to worship our God as Mary worshipped her God...
Because he is the same God..
He is still the God with whom nothing is impossible.
He is still the God fulfilling his promises.
Jesus came to us to live the life we couldn’t live, and die the death we deserved to die, and rise again to offer eternal life we coudn’t earn....
but he will come again to sit on his throne over a kingdom that will have no end…
#4 Jesus’ Birth Demands the Response of Humble Faith
Let me close just by asking this question....
Can you pray this prayer without compromise or qualification....
“I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
If you have not placed faith in Jesus he invites you today too come and trust him and find eternal life.
To every believer in Jesus he invites you to pray like Mary prayed.
in my job, with my finances, with my future, with my relationships, with my ministry, with my health.
Let it be to me according to your word Lord…
Thats where we want to be as God’s people.
That is where we will find the joy and the thrill and the strength to endure the abundant life we are promised.
Lets pray to that end.
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