Summary: First in a series of messages based on the Magnificat of Mary.
INTRODUCTION: A.J. Gordon was the great Baptist pastor of the Clarendon Church in Boston, Massachusetts. One day he met a young boy in front of the sanctuary carrying a rusty cage in which several birds fluttered nervously. Gordon inquired, "Son, where did you get those birds?"
The boy replied, "I trapped them out in the field." "What are you going to do with them?" "I’m going to play with them, and then I guess I’ll just feed them to an old cat we have at home." When Gordon offered to buy them, the lad exclaimed, "Mister, you don’t want them, they’re just little old wild birds and can’t sing very well." Gordon replied, "I’ll give you $2 for the cage and the birds." "Okay, it’s a deal, but you’re making a bad bargain."
The exchange was made and the boy went away whistling, happy with his shiny coins. Gordon walked around to the back of the church property, opened the door of the small wire coop, and let the struggling creatures soar into the blue. The next Sunday he took the empty cage into the pulpit and used it to illustrate his sermon about Christ’s coming to seek and to save the lost -- paying for them with His own precious blood.
"That boy told me the birds were not songsters," said Gordon, "but when I released them and they winged their way heavenward, it seemed to me they were singing, ’Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!’"
This is Advent. And the message of these times is the song of those wild birds. It’s the song sung in every carol this season: Redeemed! It’s the meaning behind every gift given under the tree: Redeemed! It’s the Word the shepherds heard: Redeemed! It’s the assurance Mary received: Redeemed! It’s the star the Wisemen followed: Redeemed!
You and I have been trapped by sin, but Christ has purchased our pardon. He who has this hope in his heart will sing, and you know the song: "Redeemed, redeemed, redeemed!" Will YOU hear the song this season? Will YOU see the signs this Christmas. You can. If you will stand up and lift up your heads, it is all around.
I. THE BRINGER OF SALVATION
Most of us are aware of the entire story relating to the birth of Jesus and before that the birth of his cousin, John the Baptizer. Six months earlier Gabriel, the angel of the Lord, had visited Zechariah and foretold the conception of a son to his elderly wife Elizabeth. Of course he was skeptical, after all she was well past the childbearing age. The birth of this son, John is called ‘good news.’ (1:19)
But Zechariah doubted God and was sentenced to silence until John was born. So Elizabeth conceived and soon her pregnancy became known to all their friends.
Now we move north to Galilee, to the town of Nazareth, where a young, innocent couple, betrothed to marry, reside with their parents. The same angel, Gabriel, now announces to Mary the birth of Jesus.
The stupendous claims which the angel makes for this unborn baby (1:32-33a) would have staggered the Jewish readers of the Gospel as they probably did for Theophilus, the person to whom Luke is writing this account of the life of Jesus. The son of Mary is a colossal figure - he will be the greatest ruler that not only Israel, but the world, has ever seen.
The universal authority of Christ is also a highlight of Luke’s gospel and is first introduced here. The Lord will bare his arms before the eyes of all the nations...”The Lord has demonstrated his holy power before the eyes of all the nations...” (Is. 52:10a) I will make you a light to the Gentiles, and you will bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Is. 49:6b)
II. THE BIRTH OF SALVATION
Luke tells us that so great a person is to have no ordinary birth. If you haven’t noticed it already, let me tell you that God never does the same thing twice. Every time He does something in the Bible, its always different.
He never calls two people in the same way; He never encounters two people in the same way; He never gives the same assignment to two people. God always works differently in each person’s life. The circumstances of my call to ministry are unique to me - no one else was ever called under similar circumstances. God doesn’t repeat himself.
Mary’s virginity is an integral part of the story. I see three things converging around the virgin birth of Jesus, three things that are beyond question. First, there is the character of Luke.
Luke is a painstaking historian. He is thorough and accurate, what you would expect of a conscientious physician who is writing to reveal everything He knows about the coming of the Messiah. The truth of his gospel is factual. He has investigated the facts, thoroughly and factually. Myths and legends may be what we are used to reading from some religious writers, and these myths and legends may convey some spiritual truth, but these are not what Luke deals with.