Summary: In the midst of the turmoil and distress of the birth of Jesus, God chose certain individuals to reveal his plan and his Son. This sermon looks at seven people or groups that were selected and why they were.
There was a man who strolled out of a hardware store with a smile on his face and a brand-new chainsaw in his hands. He was told it could cut down five big oak trees in an hour. Twenty-four hours later, however, his smile was gone. Frustrated, he was back at the store complaining that the saw would never cut five trees in an hour. "It took me all day to cut down five trees," he said.
Puzzled, the store owner stepped outside with the saw, gave the cord a swift pull, and fired up the steel-toothed beast. Its deafening roar sent the customer stumbling to get away. "What’s that noise?" he gasped.
Christmas can be like that chainsaw. The noise can bombard us from every direction. We have radio stations dedicated to playing Christmas music 24 hours a day to keep us in a festive mood. The problem is the music started before Thanksgiving and the actual songs are limited so you hear the same ones over and over again. By Christmas you are sick of the music.
Your calendar for December may be getting filled up with Christmas get-togethers. You have office parties, church dinners, friend’s drop-ins, and family gatherings. You might even be sponsoring one yourself.
And of course there is the shopping. So many presents to buy and so little money to do it with. The pressure of how much to spend on whom, fearing that they might out spend you. This has become Christmas.
But the season celebrating the birth of Jesus was not about constant singing, partying, and the stress of buying gifts. Rather it was a season of accusations, of betrayal, of excitement, of wonderment, and of worship. It was a stress-filled time of a different level. It was a time when Jesus would only be revealed to a select few. And for those few, it would become a time of celebration. Today I want to discuss those select few and why God choose them.
1) God reveals himself to those He finds favor.
The first person we will talk about is Mary. Mary is a young girl, probably between 12 and 14. This was the age that she would be betrothed, pledged to marry, to a carpenter named Joseph. This pledge would have been made by her parents on her behalf. They would have pledged their daughter to someone established, successful, and able to offer a dowry for her hand in marriage. Therefore, usually it was to an older man. Joseph may have been in his forties. That would have been customary. To be betrothed was the same as being married without the consummation of the marriage taking place. Both parties understood that faithfulness was demanded.
One day God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary. Luke 1:28-35 “Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.” Mary agreed and the angel left.
God reveals his plans and his Son to those who He favors.
He decides by his unwarranted grace and kindness whom He will benefit with this knowledge. Many intelligent men and women have read the scriptures as nothing more than an ancient manuscript about an ancient people. They have left with a great knowledge of this wonderful book. However, they leave with no knowledge of God’s plan for their lives or the revelation of their savior Jesus.
Sadly, many people sit in church every Sunday and leave with no revelation of God’s plan for their lives and a relationship with Jesus. If you have this knowledge, it is because you found favor with God.
2) God reveals himself to those He honors.
Mary goes to see her cousin Elizabeth. Remember Mary is just a child so she certainly would not have decided to make this trip on her own. I have to wonder if she confided in her parents that she was pregnant and they sent her away to protect her from harm. The penalty for adultery was stoning. And who was going to believe that she was impregnated by God.