So, if you were here last week you got to experience that Q&A I did with Jeremy about his experience with racism. Before we get into this week’s study, I wanted to address a couple things about that.
First off, I admit I wasn’t clear about the purpose of bringing Jeremy up here to share his experience. The purpose in doing what we did was to hopefully gain some understanding and empathy for what many in the african American community are experiencing right now as it seems the racial tensions are still pervasive in our nation. Especially as it pertains to the media and many of the accounts we hear. I was not in any way attempting to have a comprehensive conversation about all the facets of the current debate. I also did not intend to make the conversation about Police vs. African Americans. The fact is that you can be pro police and pro black! That was the point. The difference between people who hate, and are bitter and Christians is not the color of their skin or their uniform. This is a battle of identity. The fact is, that people who find their identity in their skin, or their profession are finding it in the wrong place. As Christians we should be able to admit that there are people who are in law enforcement who have committed heinous crimes against their fellow humans, while also saying that there are people who have used their skin color as an excuse for violence against law enforcement. If you think it is contradictory to say both of those things, you have bought into the polarization of this issue, and are a drawn of the “side” you represent. You will naturally have a loyalty to one side or the other of this debate. I am here to say that as Christians, we don’t have a “side” in this debate, we are for Christ’s glory in this. As Christians we need to move the conversation from the battleground of race and profession, to the battleground of the heart. Then and only then will we be able to affect change in this area.
ok, enough about that.
Lets turn to this week’s text from Luke. Open your Bibles please to Luke 1. We are going to be studying verses 26-38.
OK, so here we have the amount of God sending an angel to Mary to inform her that she has found favor in the eyes of the Lord and she will be carrying the messiah.
So, before we go much further, I want you to think back at your life. As yourself this question. If you are a Christian, how was it that you found favor in the eyes of the Lord? Because if you are a Christian, the truth it that your default position before God is one of favor with Him. Now some in our day would say, “of course, I am a snowflake, I have favor with God because I am so remarkable and special.” That is the result of years of the self esteem message and new age ideas creeping into Christianity, when in fact, the Bible holds out that there is a massive issue in your life that needs to be resolved. Your sin has made your little snowflake a mess and there is no way you can clean yourself up again. That is why this text is such good news for us.
Because you see, in the foretelling of Jesus’ birth, God is laying out the plan of how He is going to save a people for His own possession. Last week we saw that Aslan is on the move, this text begins to unfold how that is going to take place. So, as we look at this text in relation to God’s making all things right through Jesus, I want to look at the implications are for Mary finding favor, or “grace” in the the eyes of the Lord. What I hope we can see in this text is this, that God’s work of salvation in our lives is a gift, and the greatest gift we can receive is the opportunity to spend our lives for the sake of Jesus.
God’s favor is a gift to Mary. The Greek word that is translated Favor in verse 30 is “charis”. This is the same idea that is spoken of in Genesis 6 when it says that Noah found favor, in the eyes of the lord. Also it is the same idea in Exodus 33, when it says that Moses found favor in the eyes of the Lord. In all there of the instances, the word used, whether in Greek or Hebrew is the word for Grace. So the first thing that we need to see about God’s sending of Jesus to the world, and God’s sending of Jesus into your life is that it is grace. Now, i want to give you a reminder of what grace means. You have probably heard a few acronyms for grace, G.R.A.C.E. Or maybe you have heard that it is God’s unmerited favor. those are great, but sometimes I think I can begin to forget the deeper meaning when I define something one way for a long time. So, I wanted to try to come up with another way to describe grace in my own words. This isn’t better, just a new way for me. “Grace is God seeing the brokenness and depravity in my heart, and the pain I have inflicted on His creations, and how I have blasphemed Him and worshipped His creation rather than Him, and choosing to pour out all the rewards I would have received if I had never done those things, and instead give my punishments to Jesus. Because He Chooses to love me.” That is a gift. That is what Mary received when the angel said she had found favor with God, she was receiving a gift of God’s unmerited love and affection towards her.
God’s favor changed the trajectory of Mary’s Life: What is sometimes overlooked in this passage I believe is the utter havoc that God’s plan had to Mary’s life. An unwed 12-16 year old girl who is engaged gets a message that she has found favor with God, Favor for her means pregnancy out of wedlock and a lifetime raising the Son of God. If that is not a call to lay down your life, I don’t know what is. think about that for a minute. In all the messages about “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, how many times does it follow that the preacher says, yeah and that wonderful plan could be to die in a hut in Syria.” Probably never. Can you imagine how it would feel if an angel of God appeared to you and said, God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life, your life is gonna change, I am telling you, you get to get pregnant out of wedlock, its a miracle, but not everyone will believe that. Then you get to raise this child who will be perfect, and by the way, he is fully God and fully man, and then when He is about 33, so many people will hate Him that He will be killed in the most brutal way imaginable… So too for us, when God pours out grace upon us, it will change the trajectory of your life.
God’s gift of love for Mary was that Jesus would be glorified through her. The one that was going to be placed inside of her womb, the angels tells her, He will be called Holy, the son of God. earlier he said “He will be great and will be called son of the most High, and the Lord will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His Kingdom there will be no end.” I think you will find that the more you study scripture, and the more you get into this stuff, the more you will see that the most invigorating and exciting thing that a human being can be caught up in is pointing to Jesus. Grasping people’s attention and pointing not to themselves, but to the only one who can satisfy their souls. The gift of Grace that Mary received was not a gift that made her to be something amazing. People have gotten that wrong for years. The moral of the story is not that Mary was such a good girl and we need to be like Mary. The moral of the story of Jesus’ miraculous birth is that when God, in His amazing love and mercy sets His affections on a broken sinner, the greatest reward is taking them away from their self worship and fixing their worship on the only object that truly matters. It is only then that we will have true joy in our lives.