Summary: The first of a series of Christmas sermons
The Person, the Plan and the Price
By: Ken McKinley
I think one of the biggest mistakes a person can make today is to think that God values what we possess rather than the heart. We need to remember that everything we have, and I mean EVERY THING is on loan to us. Keep that in mind as we look into God’s Word this morning.
Now our text from Galatians chapter 4 says, “When the fullness of time had come…” God’s timing is always perfect. He really does know what He’s doing. In the Gospel accounts of the birth of the Lord, the writers are very clear that they are writing about a historical event. Luke doesn’t say, “Once upon a time…” No, he said just the opposite, “In the days of Herod, king of Judea…” in verse 5 and in our text he mentions an actual city, “Nazareth.” Now history can tell you about Herod and his evil family. The Jews hated him because he was an Edomite, not a Jew. He had gone to Rome to get the authority to rule of Judea. In chapter 2 Luke mentions Caesar Augustus, and his census, which is another historical fact. So this isn’t a fantasy story or a fairy tale.
And so God, in His infinite wisdom, passed over the city of Rome, one of the greatest cities in all the ancient world. He passed over Athens, He even passed over Jerusalem and the temple, and instead came to a small town in Israel.
Bethlehem was located about 8 miles south of Jerusalem, it was not a large town and at this time, it was not greatly influential, it was located on a highway that led from Jerusalem south to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Roman soldiers would probably pass through daily, and some would probably spend the night there. Merchants from Greece, Egypt and Persia would probably pass through as well.
It’s just like God to pass over these great, influential cities, and instead go to the small town of Bethlehem, and it’s just like God to pass over the emperors, kings, governors and rulers of the day as well. Instead He chose a young girl named Mary. Most likely she was between the ages of 13-16 which was the normal age for the Jewish betrothal, and she was engaged to a man named Joseph. It was also very likely that sometime in the past the parents of Mary and Joseph had gotten together while Joseph was probably a boy and Mary was very little and arranged their marriage. The parents had probably negotiated the wedding before either of them really knew one another. And the way it worked was that Joseph’s father paid Mary’s father a sum of money, because it was Mary’s father that was going to be loosing a helping hand at the farm or in the family business. Then the parents signed an agreement and made an oath to one another. And so the engaged couple could not back out on the marriage unless the agreement or oath was broken, usually by unfaithfulness of the woman. If Joseph had died before the actual marriage, then Mary would’ve been his legal widow, if Mary was unfaithful, she would be stoned to death for adultery, but the couple couldn’t consummate the marriage until after the actual wedding ceremony.
Now our text says that in the 6th month Gabriel came to Mary and she was a virgin. In other-words, she was faithful to Joseph and she had integrity. But it also tells us that God transcended the laws of nature and by the power of the Holy Spirit conceived and brought forth a Son. This was prophesied in Isaiah 7:14.
Of course Joseph didn’t know that Mary being pregnant was a miracle, and by law he had every right to have her stoned to death. But Matthew 1:19 tells us that Joseph was a just man and instead of having her whipped or killed publicly, was just going to privately divorce her until the angle of the Lord came to him and explained things.
And so today, we want to look at Mary, we want to see the kind of person that God would choose for such a tremendous honor. In verse 28 Gabriel says that Mary is highly favored, that the Lord is with her and that she is blessed among women. Just about every time you see that word “favor” in the Bible, it means someone who has been graced by God. In the OT, when it says Noah found favor in God’s sight, a better translation would be, “God had grace on Noah.” Or when we read about Abraham being favored of God, a better way to read that would be, “God had grace on Abraham.” And so if we want to understand our text we should realize that Mary had received grace from God. In other words, there was nothing inherent within her that made her favored of God. God chose Mary and graced Mary, and blessed Mary. The emphasis here in on God’s choice, not Mary’s ability, or holiness, or piety, or anything like that. God chose to have grace on Mary and bless her. But I will say this; we something of Mary’s character and her faith, in her reply to Gabriel, look at verse 38 (Read), and when Gabriel says, “The Lord is with you” that is a reference to Mary’s walking with the Lord. In other words, she was living her life right, and she was not only faithful to Joseph, she was faithful to the Lord.