Monday, December 22, 2008

Nothing is Imptossible with God

The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Luke 1:26-38
Bror Erickson

[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. Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)

The Fourth Sunday in Advent, the focus has shifted, where as before during advent we talked about our preparation for the Advent of Christ, both in grace as a Child and man come to forgive our sins, but mainly preparing for his return in Glory as this Man returns to judge the living and the dead. But today we see God’s preparation for His advent as the Messiah who delivers us from our sin once and for all as the God-man on the cross, and there by begins to prepare us for his second coming, so we can live under the throne of David that will last forever. Here we see God prepping the way for our Salvation. And there is much to ponder with the Virgin Mary in this text, in these events.

The Angel Gabriel greets a very perplexed Virgin Mary, a girl betrothed to a Man of the house of David, named Joseph. That is this man had claim to David’s throne, but absolutely no chance of ever inheriting that throne, now occupied by Herod. Mary is perplexed by this greeting, “The Lord is with you!” She isn’t even sure it is a greeting so much as a statement of fact, and she wants to know what it means. She is scared, a girl maybe about thirteen, she is now going to be one of those teenage mothers that so horrify our modern sensibilities. We look at teenage motherhood today as some sort of death sentence, the end of life for the mother. Oh no, she might not go to college. She won’t be able to stay out all night and party with friends anymore. Heaven forbid. She might not ever be able to get a decent job. Thankfully, Marry didn’t have to worry about such things. Women in that day tended to work at home, and found fulfillment and profound meaning in life doing nothing, but raising children in a loving home. I don’t know of a woman who has ever raised a child that hasn’t found it to be the most rewarding thing they have ever done. Sometimes that confuses them, poisoned as they are by feminist ideologies. They feel conflicted and confused, raising children isn’t supposed to be so rewarding and fulfilling, aren’t they supposed to become Drs. and lawyers and such, become rich and “successful.” On the flipside I have met many women who went that rout and feel empty. I’m not here to say which one is better, or tell anyone what rout they have to choose in life. Some women don’t want to be mothers, that is their choice to make, as long as it isn’t the choice to murder the unborn. But neither should motherhood be as despised and maligned as it is today. It can be quite rewarding even for a teenager, much more rewarding than an abortion, and the life long doubts, regrets, and guilt that go along with murderous procedure. There is, for some, more to life than big houses and headaches at work.
But Mary has a different problem. She isn’t married. She is betrothed. She is a Virgin. And she has found favor with God. This is not something that she has asked for. Finding favor with God can be dangerous, it often means falling out of favor with the world. Mary is about to find this out.
She will conceive by the operation of the Holy Spirit. She is going to become the Theotokus. Theotokus, I love that word. It is big and strange. It confuses people. It means God bearer. It is a title the early church applied to Mary. She gave birth to God. Theotokus. Of course this is why she had to be a virgin. So that she could give birth to God. God had to be born miraculously, by work of the Holy Spirit. If Mary hadn’t been a virgin, then there wouldn’t be any evidence of a miracle. The child may have been the child of anyone. The Virgin birth has nothing to do with sanctifying the state of virginity. That wasn’t something Jews in her day neither cared much about, nor did nor does God, chastity yes, virginity no. They didn’t put marriage off until one was through with 10 years of all but useless schooling. They got about life a bit younger than all that, they didn’t prolong adolescence and adolescent behavior. And being a virgin is no more sanctified than being a chaste wife. Mary was not the semper Virgo that so many make her out to be, she would not have been a good wife if she had. She had other children by Joseph after Jesus. But Jesus she had Jesus by work of the holy Spirit, so that He would be the child of God and woman, son of God, and son of man, true God begotten from all eternity, The Son of God, and true man, born of the Virgin Mary, Son of Man, born of a woman. Born of the Theotokus.
Mary conceived and bore God. It is mind-boggling. The God who created her is now being born of her. It had to be this way. If Jesus were born of man, conceived by man, then he would have been nothing but man. One cannot become God. There is but one God, and he is eternal without beginning or end. So if you have not always been God, you do not become God. And he had to be born of a woman so that he could be man, in every way like us except without sin, flesh of our Flesh, bone of our bone, being of one substance with the Father, but of the same substance as man. For only as a man of the same substance of man, could he die for man. And only as God, of one substance with the Father, could he give that body and blood the infinite value needed to apply it to all men, the ability to cover, atone for, all the sins of man. And so Jesus Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary, and the only begotten Son of the Father came down for us men, and for our salvation and was made man. And when that man died for us on the cross he accomplished our salvation. For nothing is impossible for God.
For God nothing is impossible. It is a statement that we do well to remember as we contemplate the things of God. Too often we are like Mary in questioning God, but not as faithful as her in receiving God’s answer, or in answering God’s call. Oh Mary has the question on her mind. She is a little confused as to how a virgin gets pregnant, confusion that the world keeps up, not wanting to hear miracles, wanting explanation. How is it possible? How is it possible for God to be three in one? How is it possible for a virgin to give birth? How is it possible for God to forgive our sins with something as simple as water? How is it possible for God to die? How is it possible for God to give us His Body and Blood, in so many different places simultaneously and at different times? And for some they will put God on trial with such impish questions and refuse to believe. But for the faithful they will hear God’s answer: For nothing is impossible with God, and they will believe like little children. They will remember their place with Mary and respond, let it be according to your word, behold I am a servant of the Lord. And so they will believe Jesus, and believe God, when he says your sins are forgiven, and they will return home, and there as husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. They will find joy, purpose and meaning as they serve God in his kingdom in everlasting innocence, blessedness and righteousness, the everlasting innocence, blessedness and righteousness Christ has given them by virtue of His precious blood and holy innocent suffering and death.
Now the Peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord Amen.

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