SUNDAY MORNING WORSHIP SERVICE, 5 December 2021
Sermon Text: Luke 1:26-38 & Matthew 1:18-25
Sermon Series: “Jesus’ Birth” (#1)
I. The message of the Messiah’s birth
II. The meaning of the baby Jesus
III. The blessing of bowing to the Son
You and I have moved into another Christmas season. While the world’s interest in this season is mainly commercial and the general population’s fascination is mainly having a holiday at the year-end, Christians like you and I are excited with the fact that the Saviour of the world did come in flesh and dwelt among us. So every year we count Christmas as the festive celebration alongside Easter. In this season, our minds are particularly busy with searching the true meaning of the incarnation of God’s Son and, being reminded of its truth, remain joyful in the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.
This new sermon series that will be preached over three Lord’s Days, starting from today, and on Christmas day morning is to help you to understand and appreciate the significance of Messiah’s coming. In order to do that, we’ll travel back in time, back to the first Christmas and possibly some years after that, and follow the footsteps of those people who were with and around Jesus. More specifically, we’ll look at Jesus as an infant or boy from the perspectives of people around Him. And today we’ll begin with Mary and Joseph, Jesus’ mother and father – more accurately, Jesus’ biological mother and ‘legal’ father (as His true father is God the Father).
I pray that the Spirit of God may grant His wisdom to you and me, and deepen our love for the Lord Jesus. By considering Jesus from the eyes and minds of Mary and Joseph, the Lord may bless us by enabling us to submit wholly to Christ as did Mary and Joseph.
I. THE MESSAGE OF THE MESSIAGH’S BIRTH
First of all, let us consider the message of the Messiah’s birth delivered to Mary and Joseph. Simply put, that message was a preposterous and shocking news to both Mary and Joseph. Surely, they were terrified. I wonder whether you’ve thought about this.
“Behold,” says the angel of God who appeared to Mary, “you will conceive … and bear a son.” “Behold,” says God’s angel, appearing in Joseph’s dream, “take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son.” What a shocking news it must’ve been to these young man and woman who were probably between 16 and 18, or if older, then, not older than 20 or 21! I’m sure that if you or I were either Mary or Joseph, we would’ve cried out in perplexity and said, ‘What? How come?’ I’m sure that this message of conception of a child would’ve been as much shocking, if not more frightening, news to Mary and Joseph as their encounter with an angel of the Most High. In a word, both were terrified. So, the angel said, calming them down, “Do not be afraid, Mary” and “Joseph … do not fear.” Yet, Mary replies in Lk. 1:34, “How will this be?” From Joseph, we hear no word in reply at all. But his silence speaks of his heart as loud as Mary’s cry, “How will this be?”
By the way, what is the nature of this message they heard? ‘A Child who is the Son of God will be born, and He will save His people from their sins.’ It is the news of God’s salvation, His deliverance of His people from sin’s curse to eternal freedom and life. It is the message of the promised Messiah of the nations and peoples, the message of the Saviour all generations of the OT Israel had been waiting for over centuries and millennia. It is great news, the most exciting news! Yet, it was shocking news to Mary and Joseph.
Guess what – to the ears of sinners, the message of the Saviour’s birth or incarnation and His dwelling in our midst is shocking, terrifying news. The news of the Saviour who saves sinners from their sins intimidates every sin-saturated heart. This message reveals man’s sinful status; this news makes all things that look complicated to sinner’s eyes into simple and straightforward truth, that is, Jesus alone saves and, apart from Him, none can escape the curse of sin and death. This news of the Saviour horrifies sinners.
To this message, some people respond immediately, asking what to do to be saved, what to do to receive the favour of the world’s only Saviour – like those people in Jerusalem on the first Pentecost who asked Peter and other disciples, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Many others dismiss this message of Jesus Christ, hiding behind their indifference their fear of due damnation. Some of them even go further and display their enmity toward the Saviour Jesus.
Mary and Joseph were surely sinners like everybody else. Unlike the Roman Catholic’s claim, May was not at all holier or better than others in either morally or spiritually. Though equally sinful as all in humanity, Mary and Joseph were blessed because they heard this news and bowed to the Saviour! Truth is that Mary is no more blessed than Joseph, no more blessed than anyone of us saved by Jesus. Only difference between her and all other Christians is the role she took according to the will and grace of God – she bore Jesus the Son of God!
The point I want to make is that the message of Jesus Christ frightens every sinful heart – it burns and pierces sinful hearts. But, acknowledging and bowing to the Saviour this message proclaims, there will be healing, renewing and recovering of souls, filling them with the Saviour’s righteousness and overflowing them with the Saviour’s eternal life!
II. THE MEANING OF THE BABY JESUS
Coming back to Mary and Joseph, I want you to think about what they would’ve gone through after hearing this message of the Saviour’s birth. They went to a town called Bethlehem to register according to Caesar’s decree. Then, the time for giving birth came and the baby Jesus was born. They completed what they had to do at Bethlehem and returned to their home. Then, the wise men or magi from the east visited to give their praise and homage to the Son of God. Almost immediately after their departure, Jesus’ family had to leave Israel and went to Egypt. Some years later, they returned to Israel and settled in a city called Nazareth.
I want you to guess what Mary and Joseph would’ve gone through over these years in terms of rearing Jesus as their baby, then, boy and teenager son. They must’ve done all parents do, like feeding, changing nappies, putting to sleep, playing, teaching, etc, etc. Although Lk. 2:40 tells us that the boy Jesus grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the favour of God was upon Him, He depended on Mary and Joseph in many ways. Jesus did not grow suddenly to His adulthood – no. Rather, He needed Mary’s care and Joseph’s examples over many years. So, watching Jesus through His infancy and boyhood, what would Mary and Joseph have thought about Him, the Saviour of the world?
Although the Scriptures don’t specifically tell us, we can read some parts of the fourfold gospels and guess Mary’s thoughts on Jesus while little can be picked up of Joseph. By the way, Joseph most likely died sometime after the family’s visit to Jerusalem – that is, when Jesus was 12 years old – and before the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry in His 30s.
When they visited the temple in Jerusalem, the boy Jesus was 12 years old. On their way back home, Jesus wasn’t there with His parents. So, they searched Him all the way back to Jerusalem, and found Him in the temple. Then, Mary said to Jesus as in Lk. 2:48, “Son, why have You treated us so? Behold, Your father and I have been searching for You in great distress.” This is what every parent would say to his/her child in such a case – ‘Why do you do this?’ This tells us that Mary and Joseph had considered the boy Jesus as a child under their care.
Then, it is surprising to hear the boy Jesus’ answer as recorded in Lk. 2:49, “Why were you looking for Me? Did you not know that I must be in My Father’s house?” His answer/question is a gentle reminder to them of who He is and the purpose of His birth and growth in stature. Mary and Joseph considered Jesus as their boy under their care; they thought that they had to provide their Child what He needed. But Jesus’ reply refreshed the message they had heard through the angel of God many years ago – He is the Son of God, Saviour of the world!
His answer/question also speaks to you and me, and reminds us of His true identity and purpose of His coming to us. He is the Son of God; He is the Lord; through Him alone, and in Him alone, salvation is given. He is full of wisdom and power, knowing all things and being able to do all things. There’s no sin He cannot forgive; all who come to Him will be saved and receive His eternal life. Being God, He needs no man’s hand, no wealth of man, but He alone carries out His will according to His goodness.
But often, if not always, we human beings treat Jesus like the way Mary and Joseph did, thinking that He would need our assistance, our wit, our material. While approving Jesus’ headship over us individually and corporately as His church, we often consider Jesus as a child under our care, consider His church under our care. Acknowledging His power and good will toward His own, we fret over various sundries of our days and doubt His promise and doubt the sufficiency of His providence for us. We – like Mary and Joseph – see Jesus as if He were a human child, and often say to Him, ‘Why do You treat us so? We’ve been doing many things for You in great distress!’
To us, as did to Mary and Joseph, Jesus speaks and reminds and assures of His power, of His love, of His purpose as our Saviour. He also reassures us of His plan – that is, to lead us to our eternal home! He speaks to us in this regard, ‘Did you not know that I am in My Father’s house? And I carry you with My own hands to be with Me in My Father’s house?’
Sometimes, Jesus might be seen weak or shaky in human eyes; in another time, His will toward His church might seem deficient or fragile. But never doubt His wisdom or power, never forget who He is – He is our Saviour and He came in flesh to forgive us and make us His own by giving His everlasting life!
III. THE BLESSING OF BOWING TO THE SON
This leads us to our last point for this morning which is also the conclusion of the message for us – that is, ‘the blessing of bowing to the Son.’ Mary bowed and said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” Joseph woke from sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took Mary as his wife. They bowed to the Saviour and became the Lord’s blessed!
About the blessing, Mary says as recorded in Lk. 1:46 and following in these words:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name”!
Please know that this song of praise Mary said – which is often called as the Magnificat – is the praise song of the blessed Joseph as well as of you and me who are equally blessed by the Lord and Saviour Jesus! Let us bow to Him, our Saviour; let us sing to Him our praise and say, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour!’ ***