december 13/14

Main Text: Luke 1:26-35

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

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.

Jesus is coming! Jesus Christ has come and will come again. This is the hope of the church that He purchased with His blood. His coming is the eager expectation and desire of His followers. His first advent is one of the greatest acts of love that the world has ever experienced.

Christmas in our modern context is often a season of excess. We have developed an insatiable appetite for material things in hope that they will satisfy us.

  • The real goods of Christmas are not that which we purchase.
  • The real goods of Christmas are that which satisfy the soul.

I pray that each of us would discover the joy, love, hope, and peace promised by the Savior whose birth we celebrate. We can do that by entering the original Christmas story.

Hope is the confident expectation of future blessings. Hope is having in your heart a confident expectation that the best things in your life are ahead. As a follower of Jesus Christ, it might mean that the best things of life ahead aren’t here – they may be in eternity. For those that trust Jesus the best things are most definitely ahead. Our future is as bright as the promises of God.

Today our text speaks of the angelic announcement to Mary foretelling the birth of Christ. It was a message of hope to Mary. We all need fresh hope stirred in our heart about our lives, our situations, and our futures. Here are some truths from this scripture that translate hope into our experience.

 

Hope meets us where we are

Luke 1:26 sets the time and place nearing Advent. Times were very tough for the nation of Israel – God’s people – the Jews. Romans occupied their nation. A lunatic King named Herod tyrannized them. They never knew what the day would bring. They felt helpless. They were fearful. The text refers to the sixth months of Elizabeth’s pregnancy – she was old, barren, and now carrying in her womb John the Baptist who would declare the coming of the Lord.

In the midst of the evil world that they were living in, the faithful people of God were clinging to the promise of the Messiah. The prophets had foretold the advent of Jesus for years. Isaiah said that He would be born to a virgin. Micah said that He would be born in Bethlehem. Malachi said that a messenger would precede him. Genesis 49:10 gave them hope that the Messiah would come from the lineage of David. God’s people had their eyes in the book that contained these prophecies. This filled them with hope. All hope was tied to the Messiah.

Mary was born into a poor rural home with devout Jewish parents. In verse 28 the angel greets Mary, “Greetings, O favored one!” She was not “full of grace” as some translations state. Mary was a regular human in need of grace. She was favored and she received God’s grace. Later in verse 45 Mary calls God her savior – only sinners need a savior. She is worthy of respect, but she wasn’t sinless. Mary was a poor woman in an obscure town who found hope because God found her. God pursues people with His hope – you just have to be faithful.

 

Hope overcomes obstacles

Mary had fears. The greeting from the angel greatly troubled her. The angel comforted her in verse 30 telling her that she had “found favor with God”. Getting God’s favor does not mean that everything will go perfectly in your life. For Mary – she found favor with God, but her husband would feel betrayed, her son was born in a barn, her son left her to serve God, and her beloved son would be hated, rejected, beaten and crucified before her very eyes. Having God’s favor means that God has put His hand on our lives and He will use our lives and situations for His purposes.

God’s favor isn’t easy, but God’s favor is good and it gives hope and overcomes the obstacles of fear and trouble.
 

Hope brings a plan

The angel instructs Mary in verse 31 to name the baby Jesus. Jesus is a Hebrew form of the name Joshua that means, “Yahweh Saves”.  Verse 32 says, “He will be great”.  In the announcement of John, it said, “he will be great before the Lord” (verse 15).  Jesus is just flat out great (verses 32-33).

There will be no end to His Kingdom! His Kingdom is going on right now! It is going on in your heart if you have opened your eyes to the truth. If you have Christ, you have everything – regardless of what you think you might lack! If you don’t have Christ, you have nothing – regardless of what else you possess. If you are without Christ, you are without hope!

God, one time, one-way, reached down through one person that one Christmas and provided salvation through our faith. Salvation and eternal life is not found through any other way or any other person (Romans 6:23).

There is no other plan. His Kingdom will have no end. When you are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ through faith, hope is found!
 

Hope is received by faith

Hebrews 4:2 gives us a dose of reality when it comes to hearing the Word of God preached.

Hearing God’s Word is worthless if you don’t combine it with faith. You can hear about joy, love, and hope, but if you don’t exercise faith (put it into action) it will do you no good. You must determine to live as a person full of joy, full of love, and full of hope. Faith believes the Word of God and acts on it regardless of how you feel.  Verse 34 shows that faith can still have questions. Verse 35 describes the miracle of Christ’s incarnation. The Spirit of God will fertilize the egg and make the God/Man Jesus Christ. Science is good, but do not count on science for hope – there is an end. Don’t count on economics for hope – it won’t last. Don’t count on politics for hope – it will never solve the world’s problems. Verses 36-37 sum it all up well.

That is hope! A barren old lady is six months pregnant and a virgin will conceive a child. There is hope! Mary’s response was “let it be to me according to your word” (verse 37).  Mary received this message of hope with faith. We too must embrace hope by faith. Wrap your heart and mind around hope. It will satisfy your soul. Your future is bright because of Christ.


Jesus is HOPE!

Apply to Life

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS Rhythms

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

Discuss the Message

Read: Luke 1:26-35

What do you see as the hope of Christmas? How does our culture present hope during Christmas?

Why is it important that Jesus was born and was incarnated (took on flesh) for us?

How would you describe what happened to Mary to someone unfamiliar with the overall story?

End your time by fitting this story of the announcement to Mary within the larger framework of what God was doing through His People.