MAIN TEXT: Luke 1: 26-38
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. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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.
Jesus Christ has come and will come again.
At Christ’s first advent, the world was searching for peace. Peace from the chaos, pain, and brokenness of the world around them. Just like now, there was oppression, threats, crazy idealists, senseless murders, fear, restlessness, injustice, pride, godlessness, hatred, prejudice, evil, and every other imaginable fruit of sin and brokenness. This is not what was intended for God’s good creation.
Today’s text is known as the Annunciation – the angelic announcement of the Incarnation to Mary. God had spoken to the Old Testament fathers of faith by the prophets, and after four centuries of silence He was now about to speak to all mankind in His Son. The Christmas story has two levels: the cosmic story and the human stories. I pray that we sense both levels then and now.
The Kingdom of God
In the middle of our text there is a declaration and promise concerning Jesus (verse 33). This is a fulfillment of prophecy – but also an insight to the significance of Christ’s birth. This has realities for us today.
The concept of this Kingdom that never ends is large. The Jews saw this kingdom merely in earthly thinking – an earthly kingdom that would liberate them from political oppression, make them more powerful than their enemies, and establish them as the superior people. This was not God’s plan. His kingdom that would be established through this Messiah would be bigger than any earthly reality. It would be a cosmic reality that would affect world in powerful ways. Later, some of Jesus’ first words as he began His earthy ministry were, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15) The arrival of Jesus was the inauguration of the Kingdom of God – it was established with Jesus as King.
Here are some facts about this Kingdom that never ends:
- God’s Kingdom is not of this world. (John 18:36)
- The Kingdom of God cannot be seen with physical eyes – it is in the midst of us. (Luke 17:20-21)
- The Kingdom may seem small but it is growing large and is significant. (Luke 13:18-19)
- It is impossible to enter into the Kingdom on your own – It’s through Jesus only (Luke 18:25)
- The only way to see the Kingdom of God is to be born again. (John 3:3)
- The Kingdom of God is about righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)
- When we are in Christ we are heirs of the Kingdom. (James 2:5)
- We are to pray that this Kingdom comes to earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)
- Someday, we will see the fulfillment and full establishment of God’s Kingdom here on earth. (Romans 8:23-24)
Entering the Kingdom of God through Jesus is the only way to peace with God. This Kingdom supersedes all earthly kingdoms. Because God’s Kingdom never ends, there is a promise of peace without end. Our text today is echoes and is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the Christ’s arrival (Isaiah 9:7).
The Kingdom without end and peace without end is available to you. Invite Him to establish His Kingdom in your heart this Christmas.
Experience His Peace at Conversion
Romans 5:1 says, “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”
Without Jesus, we are all under God’s wrath. But through faith, we can have peace with God. Peace with God means the absence of animosity, wrath, conflict, and war. We are no longer enemies of God – we are friends of God. We are no longer at war with God- we have made peace with God. The bad news of all of mankind being born with a spiritual disease of sin only makes the good news of Jesus comprehensible.
You need to have a conversion experience where you make peace with God through faith. Jesus is the solution! These other types of peace will not come until you do this.
Experience His Peace in Covenant
Almost every epistle in the New Testament has the phrase, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”. This is peace from God. This type of peace is used to describe a covenant relationship (Romans 1:7). This is a New Testament equivalent to an Old Testament concept. The Old Testament concept is the word, “Shalom”. This kind of peace meant “a complete state of wholeness and well-being”. This wholeness and well-being comes from living in a covenant relationship with God. This peace comes to His children that choose to live under this awesome covenant of love and grace. We live in a new world, with a new identity, and a new relationship to God.
Experience The Peace of God in Circumstance
Philippians 4:7 tells of the peaceful confidence that Christ’s followers can have if they rejoice, pray with thanksgiving, and refuse to worry: “And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is the peace of God. This is the calm assurance that what God is doing is the best. Regardless of what happens, I have something guarding my heart. This kind of confidence can let us off the emotional roller coasters that we find ourselves on. This is protection for the hearts of Christ followers. Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts”
This means that we are to let the peace of God call the shots. Mary is a great example (Luke 1:38). Mary knew that she was God’s servant, so she chose to allow God to work through her as he willed. He could place her in whatever difficult circumstances he desired – for she knew that God was with her. When we allow this peace to rule, nothing can penetrate our hearts. This is a reality of the Kingdom that Jesus came to establish. The birth of Christ was both a cosmic and human event. In the midst of the cosmic story there are human stories. May we be in tune with both levels of the story then and now.
Jesus is King – and His Kingdom promises peace without end!
NEXT WEEK'S PASSAGE: LUKE 1: 39-45
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.
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 expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: LUKE 1: 26-38
What do you imagine God’s Kingdom to be like?
How is God’s Kingdom “upon us” but at the same time “not here fully”?
Discuss a moment in your life where you experienced peace.
What do you need to confess to God (and possibly others) in response to this message?