Advent 2016 | Part 2
Jesus is Better
How many of you are ready for Christmas?
How many of you are stressed out about getting ready for Christmas?
How many of you are second guessing your offer to have everyone at your house OR the guest list?
How many of you are already ready for Christmas to be over?
Summing Up Last Week in a Few Sentences
In the Christmas season we see all of these shadows of the reality that Christ came:
- manger scenes,
- kneeling Santa book,
- special season of generosity,
- even fantastic glimpses of peace and goodwill (WWI, Western Front, Germany vs. Allied Forces, Christmas Truce of 1914)
We have to be careful not to fall into the snare of substituting the shadows of the Christmas season for the substance of the season — Jesus Christ
Ultimately our hope is not in the season of Christmas.
This season, more than any other season in our culture, carries with it UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS.
Because in almost every commercial,
in fact almost everywhere you look you this time of year,
you are BEING SOLD PROMISES OF UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS that will not match up to reality
The season of Christmas is being marketed as the hope of humanity.
The Hope of Humanity is not found in the season of Christmas but in the Savior of Christmas.
Don’t settle for the shadow of the season, there is SOMEONE BETTER: JESUS
We enter into the second week of Advent with the purpose of
Helping you and your family to turn your heart toward something better than the shadows of the Christmas season – to stay focused on the Savior of the Season, Jesus Christ
- The word advent means coming or arrival.
- It’s far more than a celebration of an historic moment 2,000 years ago.
- In Advent we LOOK BEHIND us (to the promises completed in full in XJ)
- BUT ALSO we LOOK FORWARD (to the promise of XJ to return for us)
Today: Every Family: Advent Devotion Book
Now I know you are locked in for the next 40 minutes, but I also know that time only represents about ½ of one percent of your waking hours each week (our worship service = 1%, 2% with Sunday School)
We want to resource you and your family for Advent worship at home.
So if you use it, we think it will help you and your family to turn your heart toward something better than the shadows of the Christmas season.
Jesus is Better than the Shadow Because He Has Drawn Near to You
God has DRAWN NEAR to you
v27a “to a virgin engaged to man whose name was Joseph”
“engaged” (NASB) / “espoused” (KJV) = lit. betrothed
- Not the same as engaged in our context today. Not the same as being married, either
- In the Jewish culture of that day, the first stage of marriage lasting about a year before the wedding night
- Man and woman are committed to one another, but the two have not become one flesh, i.e. their wedding
- Therefore, she is not already pregnant.
- MARY IS A VIRGIN, fulfilling the 700 year old prophesy of Isaiah 7:14
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
“The virgin birth” is only 1 of the 3 Messianic prophesies being fulfilled
1.) v27a “to a virgin” >>> Isaiah 7:14
2.) v27b Mary was betrothed to Joseph of the household/descendants of [king] David” >>> 2 Samuel 7:16
From God through the prophet Nathan to David at the close of David’s life, God promises to David: Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.
This does NOT happen through the sons of David
It DOES happen THROUGH THE SON OF GOD born to the virgin Mary betrothed to Joseph of the household of David
3.) All of this was occurring in “a City in Galilee” (v26) >>> Isaiah 9:1
…by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles
- These prophesies about the Messiah date to 700 years before Christ (Isaiah) and 930 years (2 Samuel) before Christ was born
- These are prophesies that cannot be written back into history because you can’t pick your parents, where they are from, to whom they are related
- Even at the announcement of the Messiah we see God doing what only God could do
Christmas Starts with God[i]
The most fundamental fact about Christmas and about the incarnation IS THAT IT STARTS WITH GOD.
- Starts with God’s promise (OT)
- Announced at God’s prompting (v26)
- Christmas has no biblical meaning without God.
- It has an American meaning without God.
- It has a European meaning without God.
- It even has a cultural meaning without God
- But Christmas doesn’t have any real historical significance without God
- Christmas is empty without Christ
Christmas is about the Creator of the universe moving Himself into the universe that he made in the person of his Son in order to save sinners
The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. (1 Timothy 1:15)
In Christmas, we see God doing what only God was willing to do.
- Every other religion is focused on humanity trying to make their way to God
- Not so with Jesus. With Jesus, God came down to you.
GOD HAS DRAWN NEAR TO YOU
a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. (Isa 9:6)
God the Son… Jesus the long awaited Messiah… has drawn near to you
- Jesus has drawn near to you to give you GRACE
vv28-30: Mary found favor with God
- We don’t know a lot about Mary’s past.
- We know she was betrothed to Joseph
- We know she did know a man in a sexual sense
- We know she’s a regular, poor, young Jewish girl
- We know she’s part of fallen humanity, so
- We know she wasn’t without sin
- Yet the angel announced that Mary was “highly favored” (v27) and she had “found favor with God” (v30)
- At first you might think that Mary had done something of her own works to earn this choice of God to be the mother of the Messiah – BUT THAT’S NOT THE CASE AT ALL
- (v27) “highly favored” is not an adjective but a verb, charitoō, meaning “to become the recipient of God’s freely bestowed grace
Only other time used in the NT is Eph 1:6
5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
- (v30) “found favor,” the word “favor” is charis, meaning “grace freely given by God”[ii]
- Mary DIDN’T FIND GRACE as though she earned it in some way.
- Mary RECEIVED GRACE, grace freely given by God
- In the grace of God, Mary was CHOSEN BY GOD to be the mother of the Messiah
Though she was no more worthy by works of righteousness than the next Jewish virgin betrothed to one of Joseph’s cousins (i.e. in the family tree of King David)
- Mary received the free gift of grace
- Grace eliminates boasting (not by works)
- God does the choosing
Not pedigree, social preeminence, financial prowess, tall or short or round or slim or pretty or pretty ugly – none of these are prerequisites to be chosen by God
You’re not worthy so that God will choose to give you grace.
You’re made worthy of God’s grace by His CHOICE of you
So if you’re fear of failure is keeping you from stepping out in faith
- You’re made worthy by God’s choice of you
Some of you think you can’t be used by God for anything special – God’s choice of Mary should make your heart leap and your feet step out in faith
- Some of you think there’s no way God could love you – give you grace – forgive you – give you a new start
- all because you don’t think worthy and so no way will God notice you
- God doesn’t just notice you, GOD KNOWS YOU
- He know your worth – you’re so valuable He gave up His life for you
- This baby who will, by grace, be born to Mary will soon take the cross
- And on that cross, He chose you when you were unworthy, NOW turn to Him by faith
You’re made worthy of God’s grace by God’s gracious choice of you
Jesus has drawn near to you to give you GRACE
Why? First, Jesus has drawn near to you to give you grace. Secondly…
- Jesus has drawn near to you so you can KNOW Him
v31: “And behold” (KJV, NASB) “Now listen” (HCSB)
- It’s as though the angel Gabriel is saying, “Mary, God has chosen you AND God has chosen you for a purpose”
- Don’t simply sit in wonder but listen to what God has in store for you.
- God does not save you to sit around as though somehow you’re preparing for your future in heaven sitting on a cloud
- Heaven will not be like that
- God is not like that
- Have you ever noticed that God always does things on purpose, not by accident?
Illustration: even the duck billed platypus is on purpose?! Maybe to show God’s creative sense of humor
- Notice that God’s purpose for Mary is
- Not revealed by mystic meditation
- Not revealed by the angel’s words
- IS revealed by the Word of God (26) – the angel was delivering the words of God to Mary
God still speaks… through SCRIPTURE SATURATED PRAYER
“All spiritual wisdom and discernment” (Col 1:9)… i.e. experiencing God comes by way of
- God’s written revelation (the Word) and prayer with the Word
- BUT not by prayer without the Word
- When you pray without your prayers being saturated by Scripture:
- the voice you hear is most often your own
- the wisdom you think you receive is most often your own sin wrecked self-seeking idolatry, yet you convince yourself you’ve heard from God
- Know that
- God doesn’t make mistakes
- You’re not here by accident, you’re here on purpose
Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)
Andrew Murray said, “God is willing to assume the full responsibility for the life totally yielded to Him.”[iii]
- God has redeemed you from your past and has ordered your future
Jeremiah 29:11-13, NASB
11 ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 ‘Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 ‘You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
- God still speaks
Listen to Him, seek Him, search for Him, call to Him, pray to Him with all your heart through Scripture Saturated Prayer
(James 4:8) Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.
GOD THE SON, JESUS THE MESSIAH/X, HAS DRAWN NEAR TO YOU
At Christmas Time this truth seems never more so apparent
God has drawn near to you
- To give you His grace
- To make Himself known to you
The only thing between you and the God who has drawn near to you is you (arrogance, pride, anger, fear)
God has drawn near to you through Jesus Christ – DRAW NEAR TO HIM
[ii] John A. Martin, “Luke,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 205.