Summary: God’s wondrous work should solicit three responses from us.
The Wonder of God
Woodlawn Baptist Church
December 14, 2003
The Christmas season is a wonderful time of year. It is a time enjoyed around the world by people of all kinds of religious backgrounds and by people with no religious background. It is celebrated by people of differing nationalities, economic and social standings, and by people of all ages. In spite of the fact that it is celebrated with so much diversity, not all these people agree on why it is celebrated. We talk about the virgin birth of Christ, but if you have never been brought up to believe that message, or you find yourself skeptical of such a story, speaking about the Word becoming flesh seems a little ludicrous. In fact, I admit that when I think about what God did to bring Christ into the world, I find my own reasoning challenged. After all, we’re talking about the invisible God of the universe planting Himself in the womb of a woman who had never had sexual relations before so that He could be born without an inherited sin nature, and we leave the tiny, helpless Savior of mankind in the hands of two poor teenagers. Then we ask people to blindly accept that story.
Can you blindly accept it? That’s an interesting question, because on the one hand we live in a time when people want answers: not superficial answers that don’t mean anything, nor do they want preachers to try to act like they understand things that they really don’t understand. On the other hand, we must see that our human understanding about the birth of Christ is limited to what we have recorded in the pages of Scripture, and beyond that we can only speculate. We cannot know the mind of God – His ways are so much higher than our ways; His thoughts are higher than our thoughts – so at some point in all our reasoning and attempts at understanding, we must either reject the account or exercise faith in what the Bible says and just believe it.
“Consider the utter mystery surrounding the incarnation of Christ – God entering our time and space while remaining above time and space as our sovereign Lord. The eternal becomes temporal; the infinite becomes finite; the Word that created all things becomes flesh. It is beyond human comprehension. The One who knows all things must grow in wisdom. The all-sufficient One must hunger and thirst. The Creator of all must be homeless. The Lord of life must suffer and die. God in the flesh must endure estrangement from God the Father.”
I want to understand all about what took place, but I understand that there is a great amount of wonder and mystery about it that I will never comprehend. By faith I must stand back and be in awe of the magnificent wonder of God.
In our message last week, we took a look at the genealogy of Christ and saw the sovereignty of God on triumphant display. From the time of Adam and Eve, God had been at work bringing forth the Christ who would die to save mankind. When it finally came time for Christ to come, the Lord began to carry out a series of events that would set the stage for his birth that would involve Zacharias and Elizabeth: the uncle and aunt of Christ, Mary: the mother of Christ, and finally Joseph. It is the account of Joseph’s dilemma that I want you to consider today, for God did a marvelous thing in his life, but in spite of its marvel, it was undoubtedly difficult.
I know you’ve heard this story countless times, but I want you to try your best to experience it for the first time today. This young couple, probably in their mid to late teens, is enjoying some time together. Maybe they are eating or taking a walk. As they are together, Mary looks over to Joseph with mixed emotions. Luke’s gospel tells us that when Elizabeth, Mary’s cousin was about 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist, the angel had told Mary of her pregnancy. She has been given this wonderful news that the Holy Spirit has placed in her womb the One who would be the Messiah, but for a girl to be pregnant and in her position was very dangerous. Jewish society looked down on women for such a thing, considering them to be lawbreakers and worthy of death, at the very least she should be ostracized for what they would perceive as sinful behavior. Luke’s gospel indicates that Mary was troubled over the news from the angel, and the first question she asked had to do with her being pregnant with having been with a man.
She had to have been wrestling with this as she tried to figure out how to tell Joseph. They were soon to be wed, and she was pregnant. What would he think? What would he do? How would he react? Finally she told him, and undoubtedly he was very disturbed by this news. Remember, we unconsciously have this idea that Joseph and Mary knew they were destined for this. They were destined for it, but they didn’t have a clue. If you were Joseph, what would you have thought about your fiancée? Matthew’s gospel gives us some idea. Let’s read verses 18 & 19.