Proclaimed

                                                            Luke 2:4-19

                                                      December 20, 2020

 

 

The Annunciation of the Virgin Mary (ch. 1:26-38)

 

The recital contained in this little section is peculiar to this Gospel of Luke. It lay

outside what may be termed the apostolic tradition. It neither helps nor mars the moral

or dogmatic teaching of the men trained in the school of Jesus of Nazareth. It simply

answers a question that probably few of the converts of the first quarter of a century

which succeeded the Resurrection morning cared to ask:  We do not suppose that

the true story of the birth of Jesus Christ was any secret, any precious mystery in the

Church of the first days. It was known doubtless to the leading teachers, known to

many of their hearers, but it was evidently unused as a popular text for preaching.

It probably was not among those “memoirs” of the apostles which were read and

expounded in the first forty years in the public synagogues and in the quiet upper

rooms of so many of the cities of Syria, and in not a few of the towns of Egypt,

Greece, and Italy. Nor is the reason of this doubtful; the wondrous story of

the child Jesus’ birth would add little to the simple faith of the first believers in the

Crucified.  Of miracles and works of wonder they had heard enough to convince

them that, if these were true, surely never man had worked like this Man. They

had heard, too, of the crowning, sign of the Resurrection. There were men

in those first days, scattered abroad in all lands, who had seen these things,

who knew that the Master had died on the cross, and who had seen Him,

touched Him, and spoken to Him after His resurrection. The mysterious

miracle of the incarnation was not needed for the preaching of the first days.

But time went on, and naturally enough many of the thoughtful cultured

men who had accepted the doctrine of the cross began to say — We ought

to have the true story of the beginnings of these marvelous events

authoritatively written down. Here and there we have heard something of

the birth and childhood, why have we not the details authenticated? Men

like Paul and Luke felt that such natural questionings should be answered.

And hence it came to pass that, moved by the Holy Spirit — under, we

believe, the direction of Paul — Luke went to the fountainhead, to the

blessed mother herself, to those holy women some of whom we believe had

borne her company from the beginning, and from her lips and their lips

wrote down what she (or they) dictated, partly from memory, partly

perhaps from memoranda which she and others had kept of that strange

sweet time; and so these two chapters of the Third Gospel, of which the

incarnation is the central narrative, were written down much in the original

form in which Luke received it, the Greek simply translating the original

Hebrew story. Around the words of the Gospel soon gathered a host of

miraculous legends glorifying the blessed mother of the Lord. These are

utterly unknown to Scripture, and should be quietly put aside. Strange

speculations respecting her and the manner of the wondrous birth have

been in all times, nay, still are favorite subjects of dispute among

theologians. It is a pity to try and be wise beyond what is written. The

believer will content himself with just receiving the quiet story of the holy

maid as Mary the mother gave it to Luke or Paul, feeling assured that the

same power of the Highest by which the crucified Jesus was raised from

the tomb where He had lain for three days, was able to overshadow the

virgin of Nazareth, was able to cause to be born of her that holy thing

which was called THE SON OF GOD!

 

26 “And in the sixth month” - that is, after the vision of Zacharias in the temple –

the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,”

These explanatory notes make it clear that Luke was writing for those who were

strangers to Palestine. Such details were no doubt added by Luke to the oral or

written Hebrew narrative upon which this section is entirely based. Under the Roman

domination the land of promise was divided into Judaea, Samaria, Peraea, and Galilee.

Galilee was the northern department, and comprised the old territory of the tribes of

Zebulun, Naphtali, and Asher. From Josephus we learn that at this period the northern

division was rich and populous, and covered with flourishing towns. Nazareth,

which still exists as a large village of some three thousand inhabitants, under the name

of En-Nazirah, is about twenty-four miles to the east of the Lake of Tiberius. It is well

situate in a valley among the hills which rise to the north of the Esdraelon plain. From

one of the grassy slopes which rise behind Nazareth, one of the noblest views is obtained.

The snowy summits of Lebanon and Hennon close the prospect on the north; on the

south the broad Esdraelon plain, with the mountains of Ephraim; Gilead and Tabor

lie on the east; on the other side, the green uplands of Carmel are bathed by

the blue waves of the Mediterranean Sea. The meaning of the name Nazareth has

been the subject of much learned controversy. The more usually adopted derivation,

however, refers the word to rxn, “a shoot or branch,” perhaps on account of the

numerous shrubs which cover the ground in this locality.

 

27 “To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of

David;” -  more accurately, betrothed. The formal ceremony of betrothal took place

among the Jews in most cases a year prior to the marriage. The question has arisen

whether the words, “of the house of David,” refer to Joseph or to Mary.

Grammatically, they would seem to belong to Joseph; but the fact of the Gospel being

here so closely translated from a Hebrew (Aramaic) original. prevents us from laying

down any strict linguistic rules which belong to the Greek language. “Who was

Mary the virgin?” has been often asked. Verses 32 and 69 would lose their

point altogether unless we regard Luke as being persuaded that the young

Hebrew girl was a descendant of David. In respect to the virgin’s family,

we read that she was a cousin or kinswoman of Elisabeth. This would at

least ally her closely to the priestly race -“and the virgin’s name was Mary.”

The name Mary is the same as Miriam or Marah.” (On the question of the

genealogy recorded by Luke, see note on ch.3:23)

 

28 “And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly

favored,” –  The plena gratia of the Vulgate, said and sung so often in the virgin’s

famous hymn, is an inaccurate rendering. Rather, “gratia cumulata,” as it has been

well rendered. “Having been much graced (by God)” is the literal translation of

the Greek word - “the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”

These words must be struck out; they do not exist in the older authorities.

(This is true because in my copy of the Greek New Testament which I have

had since 1964, the words are not in it.  – CY – 2012)

 

29 “And when she saw him, she was troubled” - more accurately, she was

greatly troubled. Different to Zacharias, who evidently doubted in the mission

of the angel, and who required some sign before he could believe, Mary simply

wondered at the strangeness of what was about to happen. Her terror at the sudden

appearance of the angel, who probably appearedto her as a young man clad in

garments of a strange dazzling whiteness, is most natural - “at his saying, and

cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.  30 And the angel

said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.”

 

31 “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and

shalt call His name JESUS.”  - JESUS - the ordinary Greek form, the well-known

Hebrew Jehoshua, the shortened Joshua, “The Salvation of Jehovah.”

 

32 “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest:” - It is

singular that this title, given by the angel to the yet unborn child, was the one given

to the Redeemer by the evil spirit in the case of the poor possessed (see Mark 5:7).

Is this the title, or one of the titles, by which our Master is known in that

greater world beyond our knowledge?  - “and the Lord God shall give unto

Him the throne of His father David:” – clearly indicating that Mary herself was

of royal lineage, although this is nowhere definitely stated (see Psalm 132: 11). These

words of the angel are as yet unfulfilled. They clearly speak of a restoration of

Israel, still, as far as we can see, very distant. Twenty centuries have passed since

Gabriel spoke of a restored throne of David, of a kingdom in Jacob to which

should come no end (See Isaiah 9:6-7).  The people, through all the changing

fortune of empires, have been indeed strangely kept distinct and separate, ready for

the mighty change; but the eventful hour still tarries. It has been well

observed how Luke’s report of the angel’s words here could never have

been a forgery — as one school of critics asserts — of the second century.

Would any writer in the second century, after the failure of Jesus among

the Jews was well known, when the fall of Jerusalem had already taken

place, have made an angel prophesy what is expressed here?

 

33 “And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His

kingdom there shall be no end.”

 

 

   THE GREATNESS OF JESUS CHRIST (vs. 31-33)

 

We now enter upon another announcement, more wonderful still than that

about John. It is the announcement about the advent of Him who is indeed

the Beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). A deeper

interest should gather round it than attaches to the beginning of the

material universe. Both begin in mystery, but happily we see the mystery by

the eye of faith safely lodged in the hand of God. Genesis gives to us the

mysterious origin of the ordinary creation, and Luke gives to us the

mysterious origin of the extraordinary creation of which Jesus is the real

Head.

 

We saw Gabriel last in the temple, holding intercourse beyond the first veil

with Zacharias as he offered the incense. He was in “the holy place,” on the

threshold of “the holy of holies.” But now, by way of contrast, he repairs

to Nazareth, that city of Galilee so hidden in the hills that all who for

various reasons needed a hiding-place resorted thither. It was a rendezvous

for the worst of people, and became proverbial as the one place out of

which no good thing need be expected (John 1:46). It was here the

angel of mercy made his way to carry good tidings to one in whose veins

was the blood of kings. The house of David had fallen indeed on evil days

when its lineal representative was to be found in a virgin betrothed to the

village carpenter. Meanwhile let us comfort ourselves with the thought that

angel-visits, though reputedly few and far between, are not confined to

temple-courts or palaces of earthly kings. The lowliest of situations and the

lowliest hearts may be honored by a messenger from heaven.

 

Gabriel bids Mary no longer to fear, since she has found favor with God, and she

is to be the mother of AN EVERLASTING MONARCH. 

 

  • The name of her Son is to be Jesus. That is, He is to be a Savior of men

from sin (Matthew 1:21). The world has had Joshuas in abundance,

captains of invasion, but only one Jesus as a Savior from the curse and

power of sin.

 

  • He is to be great.! Jesus has no equal among the sons of men.

 

  • He is to be called the Son of the Highest. God is to be His Father in a

special sense. He is to stand to God in the relation of son to father, so far

as His human nature is concerned. Mary is thus to be the mother of God’s

Son.

 

  • He is to succeed to the throne of his father David. Now, are we to

understand this of a succession to a world-kingdom, and a “personal

reign” over the Jews? If this be the meaning, then this reign is still to come,

for through the rejection of Messiah this kingship was prevented.  But our

Lord’s own words about the unworldliness of His kingdom seem to set this

idea at rest. He came to be King over a spiritual kingdom. Now, David, we

should remember, was a great ecclesiastical reformer. He exercised

commanding influence in the church as well as State of his time; and he

realized his vice-regency under God. Jesus succeeds David upon the spiritual

lines which were the chief lines of David’s influence as king.

 

  • His reign and kingdom are to be everlasting. His is to be no dying

dynasty, but an everlasting rule. Emperors and kings have come and

gone, and left their glory behind them; but this Son of God commands

more influence every year, and knows no decline. The kingdoms of the

world run a longer or shorter course; but Christ’s kingdom outlasts them

all. Such a message was fitted to overwhelm an ordinary mind. Mary is

to be the mother of a new King, and He is never to be uncrowned —

an everlasting Monarch!

 

To Mary, as to Elisabeth, it was foretold by the celestial messenger that her

Son should be “great.” There can be no doubt that, after all that was then

said, Mary expected unusually great things of the Child that should be born

of her. But how very far short of the fact her highest hopes have proved to

be! For to whatever exalted point they reached, the Jewish maiden could

not possibly have attached to the angel’s words such meaning as we know

them to have contained. The greatness of that promised Child was

threefold; it related

 

  • HIS DIVINE ORIGIN. He was not only to be her offspring, but He

should “be called the Son of the Most High” (v. 32).  And there was

to come upon her and overshadow her the Holy Ghost, the Power of

the Most High. He was to be not only a son of God, but THE SON

OF GOD related to THE ETERNAL FATHER  as no other of the

children of men had ever been or should ever be.  He was to be One

that would in the fullest sense partake of the Divine nature, be one in

thought and in aim and in action with the Father (John 5:19, 23;

8:28; 10:30; 14:10-11). He was to be “God manifest in the flesh.”

(I Timothy 3:16)

 

  • THE WORK HE SHOULD ACCOMPLISH.Thou shalt call His

Name Jesus” (v. 31); and He was to be so called because He would

save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:25). There have been

saviors of society” from whom this poor wounded world might well

have prayed to be delivered, men who tried to cover their own hideous

selfishness under a fair and striking name. What they have claimed

to be, JESUS THE SAVIOUR, WAS AND IS!  HE SAVES FROM

SIN!   And to do that is to render us the very greatest conceivable service,

both in its negative and positive aspects.

 

Ø      Negatively considered. To destroy sin is to take away evil by the

root. For sin is not only, in itself, the worst and most shameful of all

evils by which we can be afflicted, but it is the one fruitful source

of all other evils — poverty, estrangement, strife, weariness and

aching of heart, death.

 

Ø      Positively considered. Saving from sin means restoring to God; it

includes reinstatement in the condition from which sin removed us.

Jesus Christ, in the very act in which He redeems us from the penalty

and power of sin, RESTORES US TO GOD — to His Divine favor,

 His likeness, His service.  Accepting and abiding in the Savior:

 

o       we dwell in the sunshine of God’s everlasting friendship;

o       we grow up into his perfect image;

o       we spend our days and our powers under His direction.

 

      It is not only that Jesus Christ delivers us from the darkest curse;

      it is that He raises us to the loftiest heritage, by the salvation which

      He offers to our hearts.

 

 

  • THE DIGNITY AND POWER HE SHALL ATTAIN. He was to

reign upon a throne, “over the house of Jacob for ever;” and “of His

kingdom there shall be no end” (v. 33).  Great and large as Mary’s

expectations for her promised Child may have very justly been, they

can have been nothing to the fulfillment of the angel’s words.  For THE

KINGDOM OF CHRIST (as it is or as it shall be) is one that surpasses

in every way that of the greatest Hebrew sovereign. It does so:

 

Ø      In its main characteristics. It is spiritual. The only homage which is

acceptable to its King is the homage of the heart, the only tribute the

tribute of affection, the only obedience the obedience of love. It is

beneficent. Every subject in this realm is sacredly bound to seek his

brother’s wellbeing rather than his own. IT IS RIGHTEOUSNESS!

 Every citizen because he is such, is pledged to depart from all iniquity,

to pursue and practice all righteousness.

 

Ø      In its extent. It has “NO END” in its spacial dimensions. No river

bounds it; no mountain, no sea; it reaches the whole world round.

 

Ø      In its duration. HE SHALL REIGN “FOR EVER!”   His rule will

go down to remotest times; it will touch and include the last generation

that shall dwell upon the earth. Let us rejoice in His greatness; but let

us see to it that:

 

o       we have a part in the heritage of those whom he is blessing,

(I recommend How to Be Saved - # 5 – this web site – CY –

2012) and,

 

o       that we take our share in the furtherance of His mission of mercy.

 

  34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a

man?”  Mary asks how such a birth is to come about since she is a virgin? This

was not the inquiry of a doubter, but of a believer. She wanted direction.

Was she to go on with her proposed marriage with Joseph? or was she to

break with him? or was she to do nothing but wait?

 

35 “And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall

come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow

thee:” - Again the angel makes use of the term “Highest” when alluding to

the ETERNAL FATHER! . The expression of Gabriel, “the power of the

 Highest shall overshadow thee,” reminds us of the opening words of Genesis,

where the writer describes the dawn of life in creation in the words, “The Spirit

 of God moved [or, ‘brooded’] over the face of the deep.” The Word was

conceived in the womb of a woman, not after the manner of men, but by

the singular, powerful, invisible, immediate OPERATION OF THE

HOLY GHOST whereby a virgin was, beyond the law of nature, enabled to

conceive, and that which was conceived in her was originally and completely

sanctified! - “therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee

shall be called the Son of God.”  Gabriel directs her to wait passively in

God’s hands, and all He has promised will come supernaturally about. Just

as the Spirit overshadowed the old chaotic world, and brought the cosmos

out of it, so would He overshadow Mary, and give her a holy Son. Mary

was to sit still and see the salvation of God.  And here we must notice that it

was a “holy Child” which the world required as a Savior, one  in whom the

law of sin affecting the rest of the race should be broken, who would be

holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26)

David may say, “In sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5); but no

such language must be heard from the lips of Christ. This moral break, this

exception to the general rule, is brought about by a supernatural conception

and birth. Is there not here a lesson about leaving things sometimes in God’s

hands altogether? It is a great thing sometimes to sit still and do nothing; to

cultivate passivity. Like the Virgin, let us simply wait. The angel-message

comes to us, as to Mary, that “Christ” may be formed in us “the Hope of

glory (Colossians 1:27).  What we have got to do is just to wait for the

overshadowing as Mary did. It comes to the waiting and expectant souls.

Not the waiting of indifference, but the waiting of expectancy, secures the

great blessing. Let us cease from our own efforts, let us be still, and we

shall indeed see the salvation of God As a further direction,  Gabriel suggests

a visit to Elisabeth, that her faith in God’s power may be confirmed. The

time with her aged relative will do her a world of good  in present circumstances.

There in the hill-country of Judaea she will find  increasing reason for trusting

in God.

 

 36 “And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her

old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.  37 For

with God nothing shall be impossible.”

 

38 “And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me

according to thy word.” -   God’s message, by the mouth of the angel

was not a command. The part Mary had to fulfill made no demands on her.

It only remained, therefore, for Mary to consent to the consequences of the

Divine offer. She gives this consent in a word at once simple and sublime,

which involved the most extraordinary act of faith that a woman ever

consented to accomplish. Mary accepts the sacrifice of that which is dearer

to a young maiden than her very life, and thereby becomes preeminently

the heroine of Israel, the ideal daughter of Zion.” Nor was the immediate

trouble and sorrow which she foresaw would soon compass her round by

any means the whole burden which submission to the angel’s message

would bring upon the shrinking Nazareth maiden. The lot proposed to her

would bring probably in its wake unknown sufferings as well as untold

blessedness. We may with all reverence think Mary already feeling the first

piercings in her heart of that sharp sword which was one day to wound so

deeply the mother of sorrows; yet in spite of all this, in full view of the

present woe, which submission to the Divine will would forthwith bring

upon her, with an unknown future of sorrow in the background, Mary

submitted herself of her own free will to what she felt was the will

and wish of her God - “And the angel departed from her.”

 

 

The Announcement to the Virgin (vs. 26-38)

 

Gabriel, “the mighty one of God,” or “the man of God,” again sent with

glad tidings. The work for the great-hearts, for the strongest and best, is

the work of preaching the gospel of His grace. The God-sent preacher is he

who, like Gabriel, “stands in the presence of God” (v.19).  “He that is now

called a prophet was aforetime called a seer” (I Samuel 9:9).  But the true

prophet is always a seer. “Sent to a virgin… and the virgin’s name was Mary”

(vs. 26-27).  It is significant that so little is said in Holy Scripture as to this

one “blessed among women” (v.28).  Nothing is related as to her birth and

parentage, as to her gifts of mind and person; it is not even directly asserted

that she belonged to the royal stock of David — that is to be implied only

from such as v.32.  After the Lord, on the cross, solemnly gave her to the care

of the beloved disciple, there is only one allusion to her — an allusion in Acts 1.

There is no reference to her in the Epistles of Paul; none in that of James,

certainly nearly related to her; none in those of John, with whom she had

lived. Luke, speaking of her in connection with the birth, says only, “A

virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph” (v. 27).  “Blessed,”

cried a woman one day to Jesus, “is she that bare thee!” (ch. 11:27-28)  He did

not deny it; but that there might be no distraction of soul, he added, “Yea rather,

 blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it.” This Mary, or Miriam,

is blessed among women. The word of the Lord’s angel we need not hesitate

to utter’, “Hail, thou that art highly favored!” (v.28)  But what is the real beauty

of Mary? Is it not that she is in the foremost rank of those on whom the

Lord’s “yea rather, blessed” rested — that she is preeminently the hearer

and keeper of the Word of God? The few touches of character which are

presented suggest the picture of a rarely lovely nature.

 

  • Observe the manner of the faith which is evoked by Gabriel’s message.

First, there is the “casting in the mind” (v.29).  The sight is marvelous;

the salutation is strange. She is troubled; but instead of any display of

excitement or of alarm, there is only the quiet self-possessed casting in the

mind. “What could this be? Was it from above? Was it a voice of God

or a snare of the devil?”

 

  • When the birth is announced, there is no such reply as that which fell

from Zacharias — no word of skepticism, no demand for a sign. She

does not doubt that it shall be; she only inquires how it shall be.

 

  • And when the angel’s answer is given, concluded by the assertion,

“With God nothing shall be impossible” (v.37), or “No word shall be

void of power,” how complete is the response of the heart! Difficulty,

trial, sorrow, for herself was certain. “Wherefores “and “hows” were

no doubt beating against the bars of their cage; but there comes forth

the submissive and quiescent, “Behold the handmaiden of the Lord;

be it unto me according to thy Word” (v. 38).  The portrait bears the

marks of Divine wisdom. The reticence of Scripture might suggest

that the inspiring Spirit of God, foreseeing the danger which so soon

appeared, of an admiration scarcely separated from and insensibly

sliding into grave error, moved the evangelist to abstain from any

magnifying of the Virgin. But the mistaken honor paid to Mary should

not withdraw the mind from what is truly honorable and exemplary in

her conduct. She is a type of the believer for all times, in that

quietness and confidence which are the believer’s strength, in that

receptiveness of soul which is his life, in that entire self-yielding to God

which is his reasonable service. “Blessed is she that believeth” (v. 45).

What is the angel’s message? Do not attempt to expound the words in

vs 30-35.  Be content reverently to receive a mystery so deep and dread.

But two things may be noted as to v. 35.

 

Ø      The force of the “therefore” or “wherefore,” at the beginning

of the last clause, bidding us see in the statement which precedes

the reason of the assertion which follows. The statement is that the

Holy Ghost should encloud the mother — therefore the holiness of

the Lord. Mark, the difference between Christ’s holiness and ours

is not in kind; it is in this, that HIS GENERATION WAS THAT

WHICH IS DENOTED IN OUR REGENERATION! Of

course, in the human nature of Christ we must recognize an

altogether exceptional work of Divine power. But the efficient

cause in His birth is the efficient cause in all spiritual birth. Holiness,

we see, is not a mere attainment, the result of adherence to a moral

regimen, of obedience to a moral law it is a new supernatural being —

born of the spirit.” What took place, in a marvelous way, even

before the actual birth of the Son of Mary, takes place in the case

of every one born from above. He is “born not of blood, nor of

 the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John

1:13).  And therefore that which is born, being holy, is the

SON OF GOD

 

Ø      The word, “that holy thing” (v.35), or “that which is to be born,”

that sacred, separated entity, may suggest a hint as to the Person

of Jesus. Body and soul are one thing, each having its own

properties and qualities which cannot be transferred to the other,

yet the two making one. (We learned in Deuteronomy 5, in the

study of the Ten Commandments:

 

 The body is the link between the soul and the world, the soul is the link

between the body and the spirit; the spirit is  the link between the soul and God.”

It is in reference to our spirit-nature that we are made in the image of God. He is

the Father of spirits”  (Hebrews 12:9).  The same Book which reveals God

 to us, reveals us to ourselves. Anyone who understands the structure of his

own nature, will perceive which part thereof was meant to rule the rest.

THE BODY IS TO BE AT THE SERVICE OF THE SOUL; THE SOUL

 IS TO BE REGULATED BY THE SPIRIT; AND GOD IS TO GOVERN

ALL!  . But it is by THE GREAT WORK OF REDEMPTION that

the stamp of true dignity has been most CLEARLY IMPRESSED

UPON MAN! . The Apostle Paul tells us that it was through the cross that

he learned truly to estimate human nature (II Corinthians 5:16). And

elsewhere he argues, “Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God

 in your body” (I Corinthians 6:19).  Christ is “the Savior of the body

(Ephesians 5:23).  If we are the Lord’s, our body is the temple of the

Holy Ghost. No part of the body is base UNLESS BASELY USED!

                All its functions are to be discharged “in sanctification and honor.”

(I Thessalonians 4:4)

 

It is not possible to tell where body ends and soul begins. Now,

in the Son of Mary we have the humanity and the Divinity,

each perfect and complete.  Whatever can be said of man can

be said of Christ; what can be said of God can also be said of Him.

VERY MAN AND VERY GOD.  HE IS ONE PERSON!   The

one entity born of the Virgin is the SON OF GOD!   More than

this let us not try to say.

 

“Faith through the veil of flesh can see

The face of thy Divinity,

My Lord, my God, my Savior.”

 

“This is the doing of the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” 

(Psalm 118:23; Mark 12:11)

 

 

                        The Beginning of the Creation of God  (vs. 26-38)

 

We now enter upon another announcement, more wonderful still than that

about John. It is the announcement about the advent of Him who is indeed

the Beginning of the creation of God” (Revelation 3:14). A deeper

interest should gather round it than attaches to the beginning of the

material universe. Both begin in mystery, but happily we see the mystery by

the eye of faith safely lodged in the hand of God. Genesis gives to us the

mysterious origin of the ordinary creation, and Luke gives to us the

mysterious origin of the extraordinary creation of which Jesus is the real

Head.

 

·         WE SHALL NOTICE THE SCENE OF THIS ANGEL VISIT. We saw

Gabriel last in the temple, meeting beyond the first veil with

Zacharias as he offered the incense. He was in “the holy place,” on the

threshold of “the holy of holies.” But now, by way of contrast, he repairs

to Nazareth, that city of Galilee so hidden in the hills that all who for

various reasons needed a hiding-place resorted thither. It was a rendezvous

for the worst of people, and became proverbial as the one place out of

which no good thing need be expected (John 1:46). It was here the

angel of mercy made his way to carry good tidings to one in whose veins

was the blood of kings. The house of David had fallen indeed on evil days

when its lineal representative was to be found in a virgin betrothed to the

village carpenter. Meanwhile let us comfort ourselves with the thought that

angel-visits, though reputedly few and far between, are not confined to

temple-courts or palaces of earthly kings. The lowliest of situations and the

lowliest hearts may be honored by a messenger from heaven.

 

·         THE MESSAGE GABRIEL BROUGHT. Having sought and found

the virgin who was espoused to Joseph, he first addressed to her a

remarkable salutation. He salutes her as one who is

 

Ø      “highly favored” (κεχαριτωμένη - kecharitomenae  - having been

      favored) that is, the object of special favor from God; and

 

Ø      as one enjoying God’s special presence — “The Lord is with thee.” The

other clause, “Blessed art thou among women,” seems to be transferred

from the subsequent salutation of Elisabeth (v. 42; and compare “In a

loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed

is the child you will bear! Revised Version). It was a very gracious

assurance Gabriel brought to Mary. She needed all the support it gave

her in her present trying position. The immediate effect upon her mind

was fear. She is troubled at the unexpected apparition. But it led her to

deep thoughtfulness. It has been well said that praise comes as a surprise

to the meek, but as a right, or rather less than a right, to the proud.

Mary was thrown by her fear into anxious thought as to what particular

good fortune could be hers. Her idea was that she deserved nothing, and so

she could the more thoroughly appreciate whatever came. What a relish

Divine favor would be if we had Mary’s meekness! Gabriel now bids her

no longer to fear, since she has found favor with God, and her good

fortune is to consist in this — that she is to be the mother of an

everlasting Monarch. But we must pause over Gabriel’s message.

 

o       The name of her Son is to be Jesus. That is, He is to be a Savior

      of men from sin (compare Matthew 1:21). The world has had

Joshuas in abundance, captains of invasion, BUT ONLY ONE

      JESUS from the curse and power of sin.

 

o       He is to be great. And assuredly, if moral influence and genius

      constitute the highest greatness, Jesus has no equal among the

sons of men.

 

o       He is to be called the Son of the Highest. God is to be His Father

      in a special sense. This does not refer to His “Eternal Sonship,”

but to His human sonship. He is to stand to God in the relation

of son to father, so far as His human nature is concerned. Mary

is thus to be the mother of God’s Son.

 

o       He is to succeed to the throne of his father David. Now, are we to

understand this of a succession to a world-kingdom, and a

personal reign” over the Jews? If this be the meaning, then this

reign is still to come, for through the rejection of Messiah this

kingship was prevented.  But our Lord’s own words about the

unworldliness of His kingdom seem to set this idea at rest. He

came to be King over a spiritual kingdom. Now, David, we

should remember, was a great ecclesiastical reformer. He

exercised commanding influence in the church as well as

State of his time; and he realized his vice-gerency under God.

Jesus succeeds David upon the spiritual lines which were the

chief lines of David’s influence as king.

 

o       His reign and kingdom are to be everlasting. His is to be no dying

dynasty, but an everlasting rule. Emperors and kings have come

and gone, and left their glory behind them; but this Son of Mary

commands more influence every year, and knows no decline. The

kingdoms of the world run a longer or shorter course; but Christ’s

kingdom outlasts them all. Such a message was fitted to

overwhelm an ordinary mind. Mary is to be the mother of a new

King, and he is never to be uncrowned — an everlasting Monarch!

Surely an ordinary head would be turned by such tidings as these.

 

·         HOW MARY TAKES THE MESSAGE. She is so meek that her

head is not turned. She is in amazement certainly, but there is calm dignity

and purity in her reply.

 

Ø      She asks how such a birth is to come about since she is a virgin? This

was not the inquiry of a doubter, but of a believer. She wanted direction.

Was she to go on with her proposed marriage with Joseph? or was she to

break with him? or was she to do nothing but wait? Gabriel directs her to

wait passively in God’s hands, and all He has promised will come

supernaturally about. Just as the Spirit overshadowed the old chaotic

world, and brought the cosmos out of it, so would He overshadow Mary,

and give her a holy Son. Mary was to sit still and see the salvation of God. 

And here we must notice that it was a “holy Child” which the world

required as a Savior, one in whom the law of sin affecting the rest of the

race should be broken, who would be “holy, harmless, undefiled, and

separate from sinners.” (Hebrews 7:26) David may say, “In sin did my

mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5) but no such language must be heard

from the lips of Christ. This moral break, this exception to the general

rule, is brought about by a supernatural conception and birth. Is there

not here a lesson about leaving things in God’s hands altogether? It is a

great thing sometimes to sit still and do nothing; to cultivate passivity.

Like the Virgin, let us simply wait. As a further direction, Gabriel

suggests a visit to Elisabeth, that her faith in God’s power may be

confirmed. The visit with her aged relative will do her a world of good

in present circumstances. There in the hill-country of Judaea she will

find increasing reason for trusting in God.

 

Ø      Mary accepts the situation with all its risks. Her submission is an

instance of the holiest courage. She cannot but become for a time an

object of suspicion to Joseph, and to many more. Her reputation will

be for a time at stake. It is a terrible ordeal to encounter. But she bows

to the Divine will, and asks God to do with her as He pleases. Faith alone

could sustain her in such circumstances. God would vindicate her

character in due season. How much are we willing to risk for our Lord?

Would we risk reputation, the most precious portion of our heritage

(Will Rogers said that it takes a lifetime to gain a reputation but only

a moment to lose it!  CY - 2020), if God clearly asked us to do so?

This was what Mary was ready to do. In other words, are we ready

to put God before personal reputation? Is He worthy in our eyes

even of such a sacrifice?

 

·         NOTICE THAT WE HAVE HERE AN INTIMATION HOW THE

NEW CREATION MUST BEGIN WITHIN US. The angel-message

comes to us, as to Mary, that “Christ” may be formed in us “the Hope of

glory.” What we have got to do is just to wait for the overshadowing as

Mary did. It comes to the waiting and expectant souls. Not the waiting of

indifference, but the waiting of expectancy, secures the great blessing. Let

us cease from our own efforts, let us be still, and we shall indeed see the

            salvation of God!

 

 

                                                            ch. 2

 

V2

 

·         HOW THE WILL OF EVEN HEATHEN MONARCHS IS MADE TO

FULFIL THE WILL OF GOD. The Divine will, expressed seven centuries

before this time by Micah the prophet (v. 2), was that Jesus should be born

in Bethlehem. But until a short time before His birth appearances seemed to

show that He must be born in Nazareth. When lo! Augustus, the heathen

emperor at Rome, demands a census, and the Jewish families must enroll

themselves at the tribal cities. This simple circumstance, whose purpose

was the levy of men or the levy of money, brought Mary to Bethlehem in

time to become, in the appointed place, the mother of the Lord. It surely

shows the full command which God has over the wills even of those who

are not His worshippers. He is the Sovereign of all men, whether they like it

or know it or not. Cyrus was His shepherd, although he did not know God

(Isaiah 44:28; 45:4); and Augustus orders a census and “keeps books”

in subservience to Divine purposes and fulfillment of Divine promises.

 

·         HOW LITTLE WELCOME DID THE WORLD GIVE ITS NEWBORN

SAVIOR. The birth in Bethlehem was the most important birth

which ever took place on our planet.  How sad it is if men have no hospitality

to show to Jesus, but still exclude Him from their hearts and homes!

 

 

WHAT IS WRONG WITH A PERSON THAT CANNOT REVERENCE JESUS?

 

·         THE AUDIENCE PUT THE PREACHING TO AN IMMEDIATE

TEST. The shepherds, as soon as the angels passed away, went at once to

Bethlehem. They were resolved to see for themselves. There was a risk in

this, for the sheep might be endangered in their absence; but they resolve to

run the risk if they can see the Savior. “Never venture, never win.” Hence

they came with haste to Mary, and gaze with rapture on her Child. They

see and believe. They are ready to accept this “little Child” as the Savior of

the world. A little Child was leading them! Next we find them becoming his

witnesses. They tell all who will listen to them what the angel said, and

what they consequently had been led to Bethlehem to see. Having found a

personal Savior, they cannot but proclaim Him to others. One who listened

to their story and profited by it was Mary. She pondered their sayings in

her heart. The shepherds have become important witnesses for THE

INCARNATE SAVIOUR!  So should all be who have really seen Him

by the eye of faith. But yet again, the shepherds, like the-angels, burst into

praise. “They returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that

they had heard and seen, AS IT WAS TOLD THEM!” This is the real end

of gospel preaching when it leads the audience up to praise. Hence this is

represented as the chief employment of the redeemed. Experience is only

perfected WHEN GOD IS PRAISED!

 

·         WE SEE HERE A HUMAN SUCCEEDING AN ANGELIC

MINISTRY, It does seem strange that such a gospel should not be

preached by angels. (This will happen again one day.  Revelation 14:6-7 -

CY - 2020)  That they are anxious to do so appears from this

narrative. We may be sure that they would esteem it highest honor to

proclaim the message of salvation unto man. But after short visits and short

sermons, the angels are withdrawn, and these poor shepherds spread the

glad tidings, telling in a very humble way what they have seen and heard.

It is God’s plan, and must be best. It is those who need and have found a

Savior who are best adapted to proclaim Him to others. A human ministry

is more homely and sympathetic and effectual than perhaps any angelic

ministry could be. Besides, a human ministry is less caviled at and objected

to than an angelic would be. We thus learn at Bethlehem important lessons

about preaching to humble audiences, and out o£ them manufacturing

preachers. The angels were doubtless satisfied as they looked down upon

the shepherds who had listened so eagerly to their story, and saw them

becoming preachers in their turn. To multiply Christ’s witnesses is the

great work of preachers whether angelic or human.

 

2:19

 

The things that are most worth keeping are not moneys that may be kept in the bank,

nor jewels that may be treasured in the cabinet, nor parchments that may be guarded

in the strong box; they are none other than Divine thoughts which we can hold in

our hearts.

 

·         And of these there are Divine revelations. They may be of His holy

purpose, such as Mary’s heart held; or they may be of His own character or

disposition toward us His children, such as we may learn and hold; or they

may be revelations of our own true selves, of our character and our

necessities and our possibilities; or they may be of the way by which we

can approach and resemble God.

 

·         There are also Divine invitations:

  

Ø      to return from our estrangement,

Ø      to draw near to His throne,

Ø      to accept His mercy,

Ø      to walk in His paths,

Ø      to sit down at His table.

 

·         There are Divine exhortations:

 

Ø      to duty, to service,

Ø      to self-sacrifice.

 

·         And there are Divine promises:

 

Ø      of provision and protection and inspiration here,

Ø      of Blessedness and enlargement hereafter.

 

vs. 26-35 - Simeon:  could go to his last sleep as quietly as to his nightly rest. 

We may commit not only the folded hours of the night to God,

but also the folded hours of eternity

 

 

vs. 36-38 Anna

 

 

v. 39

v.40

 

 

Ø      His development in physical strength. “The Child grew.” If the Savior

had never been a child, but always full-grown like our first parent, He

would not have commanded so much sympathy in the world. Little

children take delight in the thought of Him who was once like them

a little child.

 

Ø      It is for us to rejoice in such a Savior as we have in Jesus, One who

passed through the stages which we individually experience, and

was sinless in them all. Childhood attains new interest for us, and its

innocency was once a perfect reality as the little feet of the Lord of

life and glory trod the streets of Nazareth.

 

 

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