Part Two-Dec 13: Surrendering to the Promise. Angel Appears to Mary & Joseph
Christmas like most holiday’s can be Interesting. They come to us, handed down from our parents and grandparents, full of traditions, memories, and significance.
For the Christ-follower, Christmas is a day of Celebration and remembrance honoring the fact that God Sent His Son into the World as a Baby, Born of a Virgin, for the express Purpose of Redeeming Mankind Back from the Sin which Separated the entire Creation from its Creator.
As believers, our celebrations are usually a mixture of cultural practices (Christmas trees, gifts for everyone, parties, lights, decorations, and references to a jolly elf named Santa) and its true focus on the events of Jesus’ birth.
- However…In the midst of all Your Busy Activities, Do You find Yourself Struggling to Celebrate the Real Meaning of Christmas??!
- We Know that Our Lord doesn’t want Christmas to just be an exercise of Busy Activity and Expectations…But an Expression of Your Love for the Savior.
- SO…I Thought Visiting the Story of Mary and Joseph during the very first Christmas would Provide Us the Foundation to Experiencing TRUE Christmas…
- In Our Text today, we are going to uncover 4 Significant Words…or Principles that will Turn Our Hearts Toward the Real Meaning of Christmas.
Luke 1:26-38 “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.
Here the Angel tells Mary that the Christ Child would be Born through her…A Virgin Teenager. Mary is the Perfect Picture of How God Wants Us to Respond to Him, Even hen it Makes No Sense.
In the Midst of a Seemingly Impossible Message, the First Word We Hear from Mary is her Response to “Surrender”… “I am the Lord’s Servant…May Your Word to Me be Fulfilled”
It’s Interesting that the First thing we see here is that, Christmas is about Jesus Interrupting a Life…
- Mary was a young woman, just a teenager, betrothed to Joseph, a simple carpenter.
- Full of hopes and dreams, she was preparing for the time when Joseph would have completed their home and the wedding would take place.
- And Remember…In the eyes of Jewish law, they were Already Married.
However…With just a few Words from an Angel, the Life She Anticipated with Joseph was Completely Altered.
- There’s No way to know how Completely She Processed what this News Really Meant…Except…We See that her Faithin God Was Unshakeable
- Think about it…She didn’t know how her future husband might react…And She didn’t have a chance to ask her mother for advice.
- However…Her Immediate Reaction was One of “Surrender” to Whatever the Future held as a Result of this Great Announcement.
Mary chose to Surrender…Not only her physical body to carry the baby, But also her Plans, her Dreams, her Expectations, and her Hopes.
- She willingly agreed and humbly accepted what God had determined for her life.
APPLICATION: When we Receive Christ His Goal is to Transform Our Lives to Live His Plan…That Choice Could Mean to Change Our Life’s Goals…Change Friends…Etc.
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
Proverbs 16:9 “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps”.
THE FIRST PRINCIPLE WE LEARN FROM THE CHRISTMAS STORY IS “SURRENDER”
- Are we Willing to Surrender Our busy Agendas to Celebrate Christ Not Just Christmas?!
Next, we go to Matthew to See Joseph’s Response to the Message from the Angel.
Matthew 1:18-23 “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.
The Second Word-Prinicple we see is that Joseph “Believed” the Angel.
Question…If you were a man engaged to a young woman, what would be your first thought if she came to you and told you she was pregnant, knowing that you had never engaged in a physical relationship with her?
- As we read Joseph’s part in the Christmas story, We Can’t Overlook that he was just an Ordinary Person like us.
- In fact, Joseph’s first thoughts show us that while he did truly love and care for Mary, and this was not simply an arranged marriage…He Still Did Not Believe Her.
- Joseph had the legal right to disgrace her, and publicly expose what Appeared to be a Sin of Adultery and Unfaithfulness to their Betrothal Vows…But because he Loves her, he Decides to Send her Away Secretly.
“Again…God “Interrupts” a Life…He Interrupts Joseph’s Noble plan” to put Mary away privately, by sending an angel in a dream. He lets Joseph know the Truth.
- Mary has Not been Unfaithful but is Telling the Truth…The child has indeed been conceived by the Holy Spirit and She is Innocent of any Wrongdoing.
- God tells Joseph he has been chosen to be His Son’s earthly father.
- He must decide if he will believe that Mary and the angel are telling him the truth, or act on his own intuition, and what the circumstances would lead him to conclude.
Joseph chose to Believe God. He set aside his own logic. He dismissed what others would tell him to do. He chose faith over his feelings and like Mary, Surrendered his life to God.
APPLICATION: So How do We Apply this Principle of Believing God When it Just Does Not Make Sense?
- I mean when God tells us to Tithe 10%…and our Checkbook says Its Impossible…What do We Do?
- Or…What about When God Clearly Puts on Our Heart to Help Another Person…But Our Day-Timer says…NO TIME…What Do We Do?
- Proverbs 3:9-10 “Honor the Lordwith your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine”.
- Malachi 3:8 & 10 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings… 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.
- Matthew 5:41 “If anyone forces (asks) you to go one mile, go with them two miles.”
KEY: Practical Application of this Principle Is Choosing to Believe over Your Feelings… Believing Gods Word is to Do What God Says!
We Find the 3rd Principle in Luke 2 4-7 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3 And everyone went to their own town to register. 4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. 6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Our Third Word is…TRUST
Imagine what Mary thought when Joseph came home and said, “We’re going to Bethlehem”?
- Caesar, the ruler of the Roman world in which they lived, had declared that everyone had to register for a census. Since Joseph was a descendant of David (as was Mary), they were required to register in Bethlehem.
- Bethlehem lies some 90 miles from Nazareth, a journey which would take ten days for them to walk.
- This would have been a daunting expedition for anyone, but for a woman just days away from delivering a baby, it would have been unbearable.
Yet, we Don’t read about Joseph Petitioning the Governor for a Proxy Census Form. We Don’t hear Mary complaining, or questioning. They simply chose to Trust in God’s timing.
- Now, God Knew when Caesar would issue the decree and He knew that babies take nine months to develop…It Was All Part of Gods Plan Even for Mary and Joseph…
- BUT…Mary and Joseph were convinced that God was trustworthy, and He had a plan and purpose in this difficult journey.
Perhaps Joseph and Mary knew Micah 5:2 in the Old Testament which says, “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel”.
Here is the KEY…Joseph and Mary Trusted God’s timing because they had Surrendered their lives to His Purposes, and they Believed His Word.
APPLICATION: God Wants Us to Surrender Our Lives to His Plan…God Wants Us to Believe His Word and Act Upon It. When We Do…We Will Trust Him for the Outcome
Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The Fourth Word we See in the Message of the Birth of Christ is…OBEY.
Matthew 2: 11-15 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Escape to Egypt 13 When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” 14 So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15 where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
The events of Matthew 2 occur about two years after Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph have made their home near Bethlehem.
- After the amazing visit from the Magi, they would have hoped to settle back into the simple routines of life, enjoying the delightful little boy named Jesus and growing in their love as a family. Unfortunately, Things Weren’t Quite So Easy.
- Joseph is warned in a dream that Herod is going on the rampage. He is angry that the Magi deceived him and is determined to eliminate any threat of a rival king.
- So he commands that all male children, two years old and younger, be killed.
- The angel tells Joseph in no uncertain terms to move quickly and get out of town, directing them to Egypt.
Now…Joseph had a Choice…Wait until Morning…Then Pack up the house and make some plans on where they were headed.
- Instead, Joseph Obeyed Immediately. As soon as he Awoke he Acted.
- The light of the new day’s dawn found them well on their way down the road toward safety, out of Herod’s reach.
Joseph and Mary Obeyed without hesitation because their lives were Surrendered to God, they Believed the words the angel brought from God, and they Trusted God’s sovereign plan and providence…Therefore they OBEYED WITHOUT HESITATION!
POINT: Surrender. Believe. Trust. Obey.
These Four Simple, Yet Powerful Words teach Us how to Respond when Jesus Interrupts Our world. We Don’t Say WHY…We Trust God and Obey!
YOU: This Christmas…What is God asking You to Give Up? Is there a Part of Your Life, a Place in Your Heart, that You are Struggling to Surrender?
- Is there a Promise in God’s Word that You Aren’t Believing?
- Are You Obediently Following God and What He Wants to do in and Through Your Life…OR…Are You Living By Your Feelings?
- What is God asking You to Trust Him With? A Situation? Finances? a Relationship?
- Has He asked you to do something that seems unbearable? Unreasonable?
Whatever part of His Commands You May be Struggling to Obey? I Encourage You to Do What Mary and Joseph Did…
- Surrender Your Hopes and Expectations…Let Go of Your Plans. Let God Have His Way in Your Life.
- Take God at His Word and Believe that He Loves You and Has Your Best in Mind.
- Trust Him to Make Your Paths Straight.
- Obeywithout Hesitation because He knows Best.
As You Honor Christ with Your Life…You Will Truly Celebrate Christmas.