Sermon- “The Virgin Mary” 4th Sunday in Advent, Kaiserslautern Ev. Lutheran Church, Germany- Pastor Joe Asher, LCMS, 12/20/20- *IN NOMINE JESU*
Birth of Jesus Foretold
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.” 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.
Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you, from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Four days until Christmas Eve! As we prepare for the festival of Christ’s birth and we think back to that first Christmas in Bethlehem, our attention in Luke 1 turns to the Virgin Mary. The text is called “The Annunciation,” because God sends the archangel Gabriel to a lowly Jewish girl to announce the Good News of the coming Savior and prepare her for the role she will play in the Lord’s divine plan to save our lost world.
Mary was certainly no older than 16. She was an unsuspecting teenager when the angel appeared. Gabriel was sent to tell her that she is favored by God and also that the Lord is with her. Remember that until that moment, it was not her plan to be the mother of God’s Son. While all of us are familiar with the Christmas narrative, all this was a surprise to Mary. Yet one of the most remarkable aspects of this Gospel reading is how this young Nazarene girl responds to the angel’s life-changing news. Mary has great faith, and a willing heart to serve God in any way that He requires.
So to our teenagers and Confirmation youth, don’t feel that you need to wait and serve God at some point in the future. Our God calls anyone with faith and a willing heart to make a difference in this fallen world for the cause of Christ. And this could be listening to a friend’s troubles, and then praying with them. Or you could look for ways to go the extra mile to help others rather than being sucked into social media, games, or personal interests. Or, for many, Christmas is a very difficult time of sadness and loss, and you could be a friend to someone who has few friends, and in this way, you could show the love of Jesus.
The important thing to God is not how old you are or how capable you think you are. Our Lord looks for Christians with faith and a willing heart to serve Him. And then God, Who can do ALL things, will make you capable in achieving His purpose.
In our Gospel text, the sixteen year old Mary had strong faith and a willing heart, and we can see that she was open and ready to do what God had planned for her. Now in verse 27, we are introduced to her character with two facts. First, she is a virgin, so she honored God and obeyed His Word by keeping herself sexually pure. And second, she is betrothed to Joseph, so at some time in the future she will commit in marriage to the Nazareth carpenter Joseph. So Mary had a typical life planned out, and she was expecting a good and fairly routine future.
But God had other plans for her. And the Lord’s plans would also be good. But being in God’s service can also be challenging and very hard.
Do you remember Simeon’s prophecy concerning Mary’s child? In the Temple, Simeon related this in Luke 2-
Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed, and a sword will pierce through your own soul, also.
Mary would later be at the foot of the cross and see her son crucified. That is the “sword” that pierces her soul. But with all Christians, she would also rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection. So the work that God gives us to do in His service can be challenging and sometimes very hard… and yet through it all, God is with us. And He sustains us.
As we continue in Luke 1, I’m always surprised by Mary’s interaction with the angel. We’re told she was “greatly troubled” and “tried to discern” or tried to understand what the angel’s words meant. And here is the surprise- to encounter an angel and then focus on his words is an unusual response. In Scripture, most fear the sight of one of God’s powerful angels. And then the normal behavior is to start groveling in the dirt in great anxiety. But for Mary, at around age sixteen (!), she is more interested in the message than in the majestic yet alarming angelic presence. This suggests a courage most of us don’t have!
For this young girl, her over-riding priority is to do what God calls her to do. Mary is immediately ready to dispense with her former life’s direction and trade this in for what God wants.
And what is God’s plan? Verse 31-
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.”
For obvious reasons, most of what the angel says is about Jesus. God is bringing the long-promised Messiah to redeem His people. But Mary needs to know more about her role. She needs more information. So Mary asks- verse 34-
“How will this be, since I am a virgin?
And the angels gives her what she needs to know.
“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.
In other words, God will take care of His plan. His power will accomplish everything necessary.
This angelic message is called in Latin the “sedes doctrinae” on the virgin conception of Mary. Our
Lord Jesus was born of the seed of a woman, but the conception was caused by the power of God. This is an incomprehensible miracle. This is our holy God in the Second Person of the Trinity becoming an embryo in the womb of the remarkable girl Mary. And then God in human flesh, holy, without sin, is born in a stable in Bethlehem with the mission to save humanity from sin.
The miracle of the heavenly Father’s divine plan is that God enters His creation in order to SAVE His creation. Motivated by love for all lost sinners, God Himself, in the Person of the Son, takes on human flesh, is born like us, lives under the Law like us, remains without sin in obedience to the Father, and then dies in our place in order to pay our sin penalty and rescue us from the just demand of the Law. By the merit of Jesus Christ, our debt to sin, death, and hell is paid. And to all who trust Him in faith, the Savior gives the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and eternal life in heaven.
Jesus’ birth fulfills God’s promises from the beginning of time. And the Child that is born is called Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” (Isaiah 7:14) And we Christians know of no other God, whether in heaven or earth, outside of the infant Child who will lie in the lap of the Virgin Mary. And with the angel Gabriel we say, Verse 37-
Nothing will be impossible with God.
We must never lose sight of the fact that our Savior, born in a stable, is both God and Man (or in this case, infant Child) in one and the same Person. At His birth, when the shepherds looked at the newborn Baby, they saw the face of God in the Person of the Son. And the shepherds worshipped Him.
And in becoming flesh, Jesus was so vulnerable and helpless and dependent. And as we travel back to Bethlehem in our hearts, we can see in that lowly manger the love of God for us. For Christ humbled Himself, took on human flesh, and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.
Now there is one final thing we need to cover in this Gospel text. After Gabriel gave her all the details concerning God’s plan and Jesus’ birth, Mary said this, verse 38-
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
As we face the challenges and uncertainty of our lives, the way that Mary commits herself to God’s will and direction is a most important take away for us. She trusted in God to protect her. She knew that the Lord would guide her through all the perils ahead. So she was content to be totally dependent on the Lord.
For us, there are many times when our future is unclear. In these difficult times, we tend to put our eyes on our circumstances rather than on our Lord.
So, let’s take Mary as our example. She trusted God with her future. And we know that our heavenly Father will never leave us or forsake us. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
In Jesus’ name. Amen.
+Sola Deo Gloria+
KELC Prayers- Advent 4- 12/20/20-
Dear heavenly Father, in this Season of Advent, help us remember the faith of the Virgin Mary, who trusted You with her life rather than fear all the obstacles ahead. Give your people the same confidence of knowing that You will never leave us or forsake us in our times of trouble. And with our eyes on Jesus, give us great joy in our relationship with You.
Lord in Your mercy……………………………………………………………. Hear our prayer.
Gracious Savior and Lord, We pray to You, O Christ, for safekeeping during this current COVID surge. Keep all of us, with our families, our friends, and our co-workers, sheltered in Your care. Strengthen our faith in this time of pestilence, so that trusting in You, we may never fear what the future holds.
Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………………………….. Hear our prayer.
Blessed Holy Spirit, as this year draws swiftly to an end, make us mindful of that we need to be regularly in the Word of God. Make this time a time of spiritual growth rather than a season of loafing. Guide us to the truth of Christ, so that we may clearly see His will in our lives, and our duty to others.
Lord in Your mercy…………………………………………………………. Hear our prayer.
Finally, heavenly Father, in our families and among our friends and co-workers there are many who are in need of Your care. For those who are sick, hospitalized, away on duty assignments, traveling, unemployed, and for all other needs, we name our loved ones in our hearts before you now…
Lord in Your mercy/ hear our prayer…
Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in Your mercy through Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Be seated- offering)
The video service is available for watching at the following link