Psalm 119:41; Luke 1:30-35
Victor Lyons, pastor
Second Memorial Baptist Church, Perry
Today we celebrate the coming of the Christ child. The Apostle Paul affirms “that he emptied himself and took the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:7 ESV). John explains: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son form the Father, full of grace and truth (1:14 ESV). In Revelation 19:13, Jesus is called the Word of God” (ESV).
Christ, the Great Deliverer, is the light of the world. The need for moral clarity and moral courage is so very necessary today.
God promised His salvation would come to us – Psalm 119:41
The Hebrew word hesed defines the nature of God. “Hesed includes elements of love, mercy, fidelity, and kindness, describing the internal character and the external actions that are required” (DeClaisse-Walford, Jacobson, & Tanner, Psalms, 8). Hesed’s counterpart is found in the Greek word agape in the New Testament. There are slight nuances but both point to the profound love of God. The Psalmist cries out and God acts! God intervenes in history as well as constantly being the world’s sustainer.
Habakkuk cries for God’s deliverance: “How long, O LORD, shall I cry out and you will not listen, Shall I shout to you, “Violence!” And You not save?” (Habakkuk 1:2).
The Psalmist knows of God’s salvation: “I put my hope in the LORD; He inclined toward me, and heeded my cry. He lifted me out of the miry pit, and set my feet on a rock … He put a new song into my mouth … May many see it and stand in awe, and trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:2-4 ESV). From need to salvation to joy to witness to the conversion of others is the path that God’s salvation follows. One is reminded of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost/prodigal son and and the joy that follows discovery (Luke 15).
There are things that only God can do. He is Creator and Redeemer. He changes hearts and opens closed doors. “For nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).
Salvation comes through Jesus, who is fully man – Luke 1:30-33
My wife and I were missionaries to Punta Arenas, Chile when she gave birth to each of our two children. It was a remarkable time in our lives. Both her parents as well as mine were excited about the coming of each grandchild. It seemed that the timing was just right and both sides of the family awaited the coming of each child.
The story of Jesus’ coming is somewhat different. In one way he was like that of our children and every baby born into the world. He would have a normal birth. Mary was “found with child.” She would become pregnant and give birth. With the birth of Jesus, Mary would become a mother. Later she would have other children (Mark 3:31; 6:3).
With the birth of Jesus, the Word truly became flesh! He would sit on David’s ancient throne. Does this mean that he will have a career in the military and in politics? Moreover, his kingdom will have no end. Is this to be an unending dynasty or how can this be?
Jesus would face temptation and yet would not sin (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15). He would know hunger and thirst, anxiety and loneliness. He understands humanity’s dilemma.
Salvation comes through Jesus, who is fully God – Luke 1:34-35
The dialogue between Mary and the angel Gabriel now takes a turn to the practical. It is good to talk of David’s throne and eternity, but Mary’s concern is more in the present. Mary’s righteousness is revealed as she can honestly say that she is a virgin.
However, she is not naive. She knows where babies come from. She is no simpleton. She also knows what is expected of her. She is, after all, promised to Joseph in a nearly unbreakable commitment of marriage. She is awaiting the consummation at the time appointed by the two families.
The angel’s answer is unique and unexpected. Mythical accounts of gods and goddesses and their union with human beings pale in comparison and have no parallel here. This is not a physical union but a divine miracle. The conception by the Holy Spirit is affirmed here and in Matthew’s gospel (1:20). The child will be “holy, the Son of God.”
Christ is fully God! The cry of Thomas in John 20 when he witnessed the presence of the Risen Jesus is our cry: “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus is the perfect bridge between God and man. In the age of the selfie, he teaches us that humility is power. After humbling himself to become man and then to die a criminal’s death of the cross, God exalted him, “giving him a name above all other names” (Phil. 4:9-11).
“Google ngrams measure word usage across media. The use of words having to do with economics and business has increased, while the language of morality and character building is in decline. Gratitude is down 49%, humbleness 52%, and kindness 56%. Even bravery has declined 66 percent.” (David Brooks, The Road to Character, 258).
Christmas is a good time to call for moral awakening.
Merry Christmas! Feliz Navidad.
Live it Out
Each person is in need of deliverance of one kind or another from addiction, mental illness, etc. Christ can meet that need if we will share our faith. However, the greatest need is not financial or physical but spiritual.
As 2017 approaches may we pray that our nation would value God’s Word and come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. May revival begin!