Audio Sermon for Midweek Advent #2 — Wednesday December 7, 2022
SERMON FOR MIDWEEK ADVENT SERVICE #2
DON’T GO ON BEING AFRAID
Calvary/Marquette ● Soli Deo Gloria
Grace be unto you and peace from God our father
and the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Amen.
Luke 1:26–38 (ESV)
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.
In the Name of Jesus, the Christ,
God’s Son from Eternity, and
Mary’s Son conceived of the Spirit,
Dear Fellow Redeemed in His Blood –
She was a young woman, betrothed (Matthew 1:8, Luke 1:26) to a carpenter (Matthew 13:55) named Joseph. She had what every young girl dreams of – a man that promised to love, cherish and respect her (cf. Matthew 1:19). Joseph had promised Mary that He would come (Matthew 1:20) for her and take her to his own home.
What did she have to fear?
There was peace brought about by the world-wide rule of Rome. While Roman Soldiers were stationed throughout Galilee and Judea, there was no threat of war. It was a prosperous time in Galilee, especially along the trade route that passed by Nazareth in Galilee.
Was she afraid of the future? Was Mary apprehensive about leaving her parents’ home? Was she concerned about the changes in her life that marriage would bring or was she excited to begin this new chapter in life? We may imagine that she felt these anxieties...but the Holy Spirit has not seen fit to reveal such inner thoughts of Mary.
It would seem that Mary had very little to fear...humanly speaking...until she had an other-worldly visitor.
The appearance of the Angel Gabriel and the words that He brought from God...were a fearful thing. After all, when faced with the unknown, fear is the natural human reaction. It was a fearful thing to be suddenly confronted by a messenger of God.
It wasn’t only his sudden appearance (which isn’t described in any detail) but his words were troubling. She was confused when this supernatural visitor addressed her like she was royalty. She was troubled by the angels’ words and were she aware she would be further horrified to learn how some have deified her today, calling her the co-mediator, the co-savior with her Son.
The Angel spoke the exact same words to her that He had spoken to startled Zacharias: “Don’t go on being afraid.” We learn why sinful Mary could cast aside her fears and why we can do the same, because with God, no word is powerless.
We therefore pray this evening that the Spirit of God would bless our meditation upon this Scripture and lead us to cast aside our fears and never again doubt that with God nothing is impossible. Amen.
How would you respond if someone came up to you and treated you like royalty? Let’s suppose that a stranger knocks on your door tomorrow morning and when you open the door the person takes one look at you and suddenly falls to his knees, bows his head and declares:
“God bless this day, the day that I met you.”
“Seriously?! I would turn around to see if someone was standing behind me. If upon further review, I determined that the person was actually talking to me, I would assume that there had been some kind of mistake.
“Um, sir? Please get up. I think you have the wrong address.”
When the Angel greeted Mary as ‘Highly Favored One” the Spirit of God reveals that she was ‘greatly perplexed’ even ‘confused’ by his words. She may have thought there had been some kind of mistake. After all, she was just a girl from Nazareth, a little village in Galilee. She wasn’t royalty.
It was as if the Angel understood her confusion, because before she could say anything, He spoke again:
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
He revealed that she had found favor – grace – with God. God had chosen to bless her. The way in which God would bless her was curious, but not entirely terrifying.
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall call his name Jesus.
It was a prelude that few people receive...God told her beforehand that she was going to have a son. No doubt, as an engaged woman Mary had considered the possibility that after she was married, she might indeed become pregnant and give birth to a child...if God willed it.
It was indeed in God’s plans, but far more than she considered:
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.”
It was just too much. There must be some kind of mistake. It wasn’t beyond comprehension that she might have a child, but how could she bear “the great one, the Son of the Highest”? Mary was distantly related to King David of Bethlehem as was her fiancée, Joseph. But David’s royal line had ceased to rule and she lived among gentiles in Galilee, not Judea. The bigger question was...
How could a sinful woman give birth to a holy child, who would be called the Son of God? It was impossible. Impossible. It was just as impossible as non-living matter coming to life after a universal explosion with every living being rising from it...nevertheless foolish human beings believe that...without any verifiable proof whatsoever.
How can sinful human beings ever hope to dwell in the presence of God? God told Moses, a man that many consider holier than us, that he couldn’t even look on God and live (Exodus 33:20).
God has himself declared (Ezekiel 18:20a):
“The soul who sins shall die.”
Lest we think that we have somehow miraculously, with inconceivably stupid luck, impossibly avoided sinning, the all-knowing God declares (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:23):
“ The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”
“...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
How can sinful human beings ever hope to stand in the presence of a Holy God? The answer should be a plain, flat, ugly: “Impossible.” It’s equally impossible for a sinful woman to give birth to a sinless child. It’s more likely that a monkey in a room of typewriters might accidentally string together in order the correct letters and spaces and write all the great novels that have ever been written...even though it’s statistically impossible.
It’s completely, utterly, completely impossible for a virgin to give birth ..UNLESS the all-powerful Creator God Himself intervenes. The difference between the fiction that is evolution and the virgin birth is that it was explained beforehand and brought about by a reliable source, the ultimate, highest authority.
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” ...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.
What the angel said was impossible...without the intervention of God. The only way that a sinful woman could give birth to a sinless son, the very Son of God, was if God the Holy Spirit was responsible for that conception. It was the only way that the Son of God could be found in the womb of a sinful woman, be carried to term and enter the human race as the God-man, the long-promised seed of the woman.
How could guilty sinners be saved from their deserved place in hell...only by the intervention of God. It was the only way that our doom could be prevented. So the seemingly impossible happened as foretold by God and as described by the Apostle Paul (Galatians 4:4-5, ESV):
“...when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.”
What was impossible for man...was planned, promised and provided by the Almighty God. For God’s plans – made known by the Angel Gabriel – came to pass and the Virgin Mary gave birth to a Son, a sinless son, who was also the Son of God, without input or help of a man.
The wise of our age dismiss it and scoff: “Impossible.”
There is more here than the birth of a Son. For through this birth another impossible accomplishment of God was set in motion. The same God who promised in Eden that a descendant of the woman would arise to crush the head of the serpent, Satan, sent him to this earth through the body of a girl named Mary.
This young woman’s Son was the 2nd Adam, the sinless Son of God, grew up in the backward village of Nazareth. He completed the work set before Him, living as the perfect substitute of us all. After living life without a single sin, He then laid down that life to atone for the mountain of sins we had piled up through all of history.
God accepted His death as payment in full
and raised Him up from death to prove it.
The wise of our age dismiss it and scoff: “Impossible.”
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.
The Almighty God is not confined by our puny minds. He isn’t confined by what we think or know. He’s not confined by space and time. He doesn’t need our permission to do what He pleases. He is limitless. So as promised, He gave a senior citizen named Zacharias and his barren wife Elizabeth – a son.
The wise of our age dismiss it and scoff: “Impossible.”
The wise used to declare that the earth is flat. They were wrong then and now. Those who dismiss what the Almighty has done and reject what He has said will nevertheless stand before Him at the last and give an account.
The Savior Jesus came as foretold and is coming again. When the wise of this world dismiss your faith as foolishness and scoff, “Impossible”! Then remember how the words of the Angel sounded when first spoken to a startled Mary.
Don’t go on being afraid...with God no word is powerless.