The King Is Coming

Sermon 1723 Luke 1.26-38 December 6, 2020

It has been a long time, I will admit that, but you never forget the news that your family is going to have a child. Initially there is the sheer excitement. A baby! And the joy. New life on earth! Then there is curiosity. Wonder if it will be a boy or a girl. Then expectations come. What will this kid be like? What will this child do?

But first of all there is just that thunderstruck, deer in the headlight reaction. It isn’t disbelief. It’s more like being run over by a semi-truck. That’s why we are initially speechless at the news, be it given to us by the doctor or our wife.

That’s where the Virgin Mary is in our text for today, the Sunday School story about the Birth of Jesus Foretold. Oh, the fancy name for it is The Annunciation. The cat has definitely got her tongue. Good thing we have the angel Gabriel’s message.

The King is Coming

1. Don’t be afraid (26-30).

2. His kingdom will never end (31-33).

3. Nothing is impossible with God (34-38).

Let’s see if I can remember it. When I got home Karen said something like, “I’ve got some news for you.” That seldom is a way to usher in good news. It’s usually bad news. The landlord decided not to renew our lease. I got laid off from work today. Mom called and said Dad was sick, something like that. “I’ve got some news for you.” Oh-oh.

“In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’

“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God (26-30).”

Mary doesn’t know it yet, but her cousin, Elizabeth, is already six months pregnant with the child who will become John the Baptist. What Mary does know is that she is engaged to Joseph, a humble carpenter in Nazareth, a non-descript, dusty town in Galilee, northern Israel. Think of any of a million towns in America where people have to tell you how far they are from the big city so you can guess where they are on a map. She is expecting an unexceptional life in an unexceptional town. Her highest hopes are she will be happy and Joseph will be able to provide for the family God (if it be his will) grants them. A quiet and peaceful life under the Lord’s protecting hand.

That is about to end. An angel appearing to you is almost always a cause for fear in the Bible. Mary is so thoroughly startled Gabriel has to say “Do not be afraid.” Those are the exact words of the angels at Jesus’ tomb on Easter Sunday. “Do not be afraid.” That’s what the angel said to Daniel, the Daniel of the Lions’ Den, when he shows him the future of Daniel’s people. “I’ve got some news for you,” my wife said.

The reason Mary need not fear is that she has “found favor” with the Lord. This is not the “I’ll do you a favor” with a wink of the eye and a look around to see that nobody is looking while you give your friend an extra hamburger patty when you had that job as a short order cook your senior year in high school. This is not a favor where I will bend the rules for you today and expect you to bend the rules for me tomorrow. This is favor in its fullest sense. “Grace” would be a good way to explain it. “Mary, you have found grace with the Lord.”

Grace is God’s undeserved love for you and me. It is undeserved because we are sinners. How did Luther put it in the Fifth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer, the Forgive us our trespasses part? “We pray in this petition that our Father in heaven would not look upon our sins or because of them deny our prayers; for we are worthy of none of the things for which we ask, neither have we deserved them, but we ask that he would give them all to us by grace; for we daily sin much and surely deserve nothing but punishment.”

Grace. Mary found grace with the Lord because she was a believer. It is that simple. She was looking forward to the Savior, the King coming into the world, the Savior King God had promised to her people for so long. In this sense Mary was no different than you and I. Like her, we are sinners. We daily sin much. Chances are before the sun sets we are going to have harsh words or harsh thoughts towards someone in our house or in our circle of family or friends. Maybe we will even have harsh thoughts about our heavenly Father, like, “Why is he treating me this way?” Like Mary, we are looking to the Savior, the King of kings, as the one who will take away our sins. Mary just didn’t know that Savior King’s name was going to be Jesus. That was going to change in the next ten seconds. We know how the story ends, so we know our King, our Savior is Jesus.

God’s grace made Mary what she was, a believer beautiful in spirit who walked in the ways of the Lord. As such, with sins forgiven and the right standing before God assured by the merits of the King who was coming, she had no reason to fear. The same goes for us. All our sins are gone, forgiven and forgotten by God. All of the good deeds King Jesus did in his life on earth are credited to our account. We have a right standing before God because of Jesus. We have nothing to fear, whether it would be an angel appearing to us in our room or the trumpet blast of the archangel announcing the end of the world. “Do not be afraid.”

The King is coming. His kingdom will never end.

“You will be with child and you are to give him the name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end (31-33)”

Kings can be a dime a dozen. I think in the Roman Empire there were once five kings, five Caesars, in one year. China had six ministers in one year taking power away from the king, but keeping him as a puppet because it was easier for him to take out the garbage. Even good kings give up their kingdoms at death and then the trouble starts when the spoiled prince sits on daddy’s throne. I imagine when King Solomon got a look at his son, Rehoboam’s first semester grades from Jerusalem University he wondered, “When is this kid ever going to grow up?”

But this king is different. First of all, this king will come from Mary. Her son will be the King. Every mother knows her child is not just any child. It is her child and because that child is her child, there is no one like them in the world. There certainly was that in Mary’s heart, for she was a human being, just like you and me.

What will the child be? Boy or girl? Boy. O.K., that’s not so unusual. There’s a 50-50 chance for that to happen. But that’s where the similarities ended. The child already has a name. Jesus. That’s the name Mary was to give the boy. Elsewhere we know God was going to insist the boy be named Jesus, “because he will save his people from their sins.” Jesus means Savior. But that isn’t what Gabriel zeroes in on with Mary. Mary’s son, Jesus, will be the Son of the Most High. He is going to be the Son of God. That is out of the ballpark crazy. You can only be one thing at one time. We are humans. We can’t be horses at the same time. Maybe we pretended we were little ponies when we were three or four, galloping through the house, neighing loudly, but pretending didn’t make it so.

Jesus, however, is going to be the Son of God, God himself. And Jesus will rule. He will sit on the throne of his father, David. Oh, I skipped over that part, didn’t I? Mary is descended from King David, yes, that King David, the one who killed Goliath, the one who wrote “The Lord is my shepherd,” the one who conquered an empire that stretched from Iraq to Egypt. That King David. So on his mother’s side, Jesus would come from the royal family tree of King David. And a thousand years after King David, the royal family tree was pretty much a stump with a few branches growing out of the ground, refusing to die.

Jesus would be true God and true man, in one person. So it is natural for him to sit on the throne of his father, David. That’s where the good royal sons are supposed to end up and Jesus is going to be the best descendant of King David. And because Jesus is God, he is not going to go away. He will not hand his throne over to another. No one will forcibly take the crown off his head. Jesus will rule forever. His kingdom will never end.

What a king! It’s like the pregnancy test came back with the little boy’s future IQ, height and weight and an offer from Ohio State to play football on their team with a Rhodes’ scholarship to follow and both political parties wanting him to run for Congress after he came back from Oxford University in England! How wonderful is that? Jesus is going to be the best king ever! Even after the world ends, he will rule his people, you, me, all of us, in heaven! It is understandable that Mary is thunderstruck.

The King is coming. Nothing is impossible with God.

There’s just one problem. It isn’t that Mary doesn’t believe the angel. She does. But she is a virgin. She knows where babies come from and until her wedding day with Joseph, there’s no baby coming from her that way.

“‘How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin’

“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirt will come upon 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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God (34-37).’”

The King is coming. Nothing is impossible with God.

Mary was right. This baby was not going to come from her the normal way. By a very chaste and pure miracle, the Holy Spirit would “overshadow” her, like a cloud passes over you when you are out on a hike in the desert. One moment the sun is trying to beat the brains out of your head and the next moment there is relief as a cloud passes over. Then the sun resumes trying to beat the brains out of your head.

The Holy Spirit would pass over the Virgin Mary and where there was nothing before, now there would be life. That life would be the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father. That life would be the Son of God putting on human flesh and blood. That life would be the Son of God dressed with a human soul. But clothes are separable from a person. Every mother of a newborn knows that. Those fifty pounds of dirty Pampers are not your baby boy or baby girl. But these flesh and blood, body and soul clothes of Jesus will become him. It won’t be two persons, a God Jesus and a Man Jesus in one outward form, like two oranges and four bananas in a grocery bag. It will be one person with two natures, a divine and a human. The divine nature of Jesus will give up nothing. The human nature of Jesus will receive everything from the divine. How can this be? Nothing is impossible with God.

To strengthen Mary’s growing faith in his words, Gabriel tells her that her relative, Elizabeth, who had been trying for so long to have a child that everyone thought she should give up, even Elizabeth was six months pregnant. Nothing is impossible with God.

“‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May it be to me as you have said (38).’”

There are some stories in the Bible where the only reaction you can have is a jaw hitting the table, it is so amazing, so stupendous, so powerful. This is one of those stories. All we can do is marvel. Marvel at our Lord’s power. Marvel at our Lord’s goodness to us. Marvel at his wisdom and the mystery of it all.

The King is Coming

1. Don’t be afraid (26-30).

2. His kingdom will never end (31-33).

3. Nothing is impossible with God (34-38).

“I’ve got some news for you,” she said. “We are going to have a baby.”

But isn’t that all we can do? Marvel at the mystery of love God gives us in the person of a baby? Marvel at the wisdom of God? And then get ready to receive that child.

That’s what Advent is all about.

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