Luke 1:30-33 The Incarnation 12/14/2003 ßà
#1. Hail Thou That Art Highly Favored (Luke 1:26-30, Gen 6:8, Acts 7:46, Heb 13:5, Eph 1:4)
#2. Blessed Art Thou Among Women (Luke 1:36-44)
#3. Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56, Heb 12:29, Deut 5:15)
Please open your Bibles to the Gospel according to John 1:14 (2X). We are continuing in the series that is called "The Wisdom of God" (2X). In sermon #15 we began to focus on the Lord Jesus Christ as the "Sun of Righteousness" who would come with healing in His wings. His wings refer to rays of righteousness radiating from Him. Sermon #16 was titled "He Shall Be Great", which is a statement referring to John the Baptist: "He shall be great in the eyes of the Lord". But the words "He Shall Be Great" also refer to the coming of "Christ in the flesh". God, in His wisdom, determined that the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ be interwoven with the birth of John the Baptist, who was the herald of the Good News that Messiah has come. Therefore, today we will have sermon #17 in this series, titled "The Incarnation" (2X). You may have heard this word many times, "Incarnation". But what does it mean? It means the union of Divinity with humanity in Jesus Christ. The eternal God the Son came on earth and took on human flesh, or let us read it in the words of John 1:14,
Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
"The Word was made flesh". God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ who is also called "the Word" in verse 1, took on a human body, and dwelt among us. Literally, He tabernacled in the midst of us. He pitched His tent on earth for a number of years. The Greek word is referring to the Tabernacle in the wilderness, where Jehovah dwelt in the midst of Israel while they wandered through the wilderness for 40 years. In the Incarnation God the Son became man, but we may not forget that at the same time He was Lord in heaven. He became what He was not previously, although He never ceased to be all that He was before. The Babe of Bethlehem was Immanuel, God with us. This is what "the Incarnation" means. God the Son, who was a Spirit, took on a human body, the body of Jesus, who became the Carpenter of Nazareth. The Apostle John says: "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father". The Lord Jesus was not glowing and radiating from His face. The glory of God that His Disciples saw in Him was coming from within Him, and only those to whom the Father had given the ability to perceive the excellency of God in Christ saw His glory. And they saw that He was "full of grace and truth". Remember, grace is receiving that which you do not deserve. That Christ was full of grace means that Christ was always giving what people did not deserve. He healed the blind, He healed the deaf and dumb, He raised the dead, and so on. He did not only give them what they needed physically, but also what they needed spiritually. He told many people, "Go in peace, thy faith hath made thee whole", or "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more", or "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee". All these imply that the Lord Jesus was going to atone for their sins, which means that Christ had to endure the equivalent of an eternity in Hell for their sins. That is why Jesus was full of grace. But He was also full of truth. He told the Disciples that He was going to be crucified. He also told them that He was the Good Shepherd who was going to lay down His life for His sheep and only for His own sheep. He told the Pharisees that they were hypocrites, on the way to Hell. He told the Jews around Him that they were of their father the Devil. He said this lovingly, so that they may wake up. Who else would make known to them that they were in need of salvation? Jesus gave us the example. We too have learned to discern who still is in need of salvation. We should let people know this, and we must point them to the right way, to the Jesus of the Bible. We must tell them that Roman Catholics are not saved, and we must tell them that those believing in Charismatic gospels are not saved. Let them know that they need to be saved from their slippery slide into Hell. Please turn now in your Bibles to the Gospel according to Luke 1:26 (2X). The Lord Jesus Christ, our Master, is fully behind all our efforts to spread His Gospel, since He is full of grace and truth. He whose birth we celebrate this month, He is the one who was born of the Virgin Mary. We read in Luke 1:28,
#1. Hail Thou That Art Highly Favored (Luke 1:26-30, Gen 6:8, Acts 7:46, Heb 13:5, Eph 1:4)
What kind of a greeting is this? Let us read about this in Luke chapter 1, beginning at verse 26,
Lu 1:26-27 ¶ And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.
Lu 1:28-29 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
Lu 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour (grace) with God.
We read in verse 26, "in the sixth month". What sixth month is this? It was in the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elisabeth that the angel Gabriel, the bringer of good tidings, was again sent to earth, to a city of Galilee named Nazareth. Galilee was already scoffingly called "Galilee of the Gentiles", but in Galilee one of the most despised cities was Nazareth. The Jews said among each other, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). There is where Mary and Joseph came from. There is where they had their respective families. Thus it is understandable that after their flight into Egypt both Mary and Joseph felt comfortable to settle in Nazareth. Here in Luke chapter 1 Mary was betrothed to Joseph and Mary was a virgin. Mary never had an intimate relationship with a man. And both Mary and Joseph were descendents of king David. God did not disclose how old Mary was. It is sufficient to say that she was of childbearing age. Here is another example that it is God's will for our lives that we remain virgins until the day we get married. Then in verse 28 the angel said to her, "Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women". This is a greeting, for sure; this is not a prayer. The angel opens this greeting with a commendation of the grace of God. Mary is highly favored, which is synonymous with Mary having received grace. Grace is unmerited favor. The words "favor" and "grace" are the same word in the Greek. Mary was not chosen to bear the Lord Jesus for her good behavior, or for any of her nice character traits. The glory must always go to the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace was bestowed upon her totally unmerited. You cannot merit unmerited favor. She was highly favored, because God's grace is boundless grace. God says to any of His elect people: "Thou hast found favor with God", which means, "You have found grace in the eyes of the Lord". For example, "Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen 6:8), and "David found favor before God" (Acts 7:46). The second clause in this greeting is, "The Lord is with thee". But the Lord is always with every one whom He has chosen. He promises: "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Heb 13:5). Then the third clause in this greeting is, "blessed art thou among women". That word "blessed" does not mean that she was worthy of praise. All the praise and the glory must go to God. Rather, the word "blessed" means "happy". The word "blessed" is here put down as the result and proof of the Divine kindness. Thus Mary's happiness, and righteousness, and life with God flow from the undeserved love of God. All her virtues and her excellence are the result of the same Divine kindness that flows to every child of God. Every child of God is one of God's elect, who have been chosen by the Father unto salvation from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4). We should be on our guard that this greeting of Mary by the angel Gabriel has been twisted out of context by many churches. For example, the Roman Catholic Church has changed this salutation into a prayer to Mary. What an abomination! Don't they know that praying to anyone else than Almighty God is idolatry and it is an abomination before God? These words in verse 28 are nothing else than a simple congratulation. And their sinful ignorance has led them into a second blunder, for they greet a person who is absent. Their greatest blunder is that they have concocted a "rosary" wherein they engage in "vain repetitions as the heathen do", and wherein the prayers to Mary are 10 times more than the prayers to God the Father. What an abomination!
Let us now continue with the message from God through the angel Gabriel in verse 31,
Lu 1:31-32 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
Lu 1:33-34 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man"?
Lu 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God".
Verse 31 agrees with Matt 1:21, where God says to Joseph, "Thou shalt call His name JESUS, for He shall save His people from their sins". Please turn for a moment to Matt 1:21. What is the meaning of the name Jesus? It is the same name as Joshua in Hebrew. Jesus is His Greek name and Joshua is His Hebrew name. Whatever the spelling of His name is not important. The meaning of His name is, "Jehovah Is Salvation", which implies that "Salvation is of the Lord" as Jonah said in Jon 2:9. And thus, the angel said to Joseph in Mat 1:21, "Thou shalt call His name "Jehovah Is Salvation", for He shall save His people from their sins". He shall save His people, and only His people, for salvation originates entirely from the Lord, and not from anything else that we might do, or what we are going to do. God did not look down the corridors of time to see who might turn toward Him, because there is NONE who would turn to Him. The Bible says, "There is NONE that seeketh after God, No Not One" (Rom 3:11). Therefore, the only ones whom He will save are those whom He chose to save. He chose to save only His people. Who are His people? If only the descendants of Jacob are His people, then that would leave me out. But the Bible clearly says in the OT as well as in the NT, "that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel" (Eph 3:6). And thus, "His People" does not always refer to the Jews by descent, but refers to the Jews in heart. "His People" refers to all those whom God chose from before the foundation of the world to give a new heart. And therefore, the commands to Joseph and Mary, in Matt 1:21 as well as in Luke 1:31, "Thou shalt call His name Jesus" is given to them, but are also given to us to let us know that Christ did not pay for the sins of every human being in the world, but He paid only for the sins of His Elect people. Christ's Atonement was not a universal atonement, but it was a "Particular Atonement", done strictly for His Elect people. God had no intention to save anyone outside His Elect. And none of the Reprobate shall come to Christ. They do not want to come to Christ, because they are firmly held "in the snare of the Devil and are taken captive by him at his will" (1Tim 2:26).
Please turn again to Luke chapter 1, and let us now continue with verse 33. There we read about,
"And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end". What is the meaning of this verse? In many, many churches Jacob is identified with the Jews, the physical descendents of Jacob, and they hold on to this interpretation rigidly throughout the whole Bible. From this they derive the existence of a future glorious 1000-year kingdom with Christ reigning from Jerusalem, from where the Jews will be evangelizing the world. But such a millennial view does not agree at all with the rest of Scripture. It is a view of Scripture that was invented about 150 years ago, based on a dream of Margaret Mc Donald. Therefore we want to look at the context of Luke 1:33 and see what God has in view. From verses 31 and 32 it is clear that Christ is heading up a spiritual Kingdom. Jesus said to Pilate, "My Kingdom is not of this world". And thus, when we read that, "the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David", we understand that the physical kingdom of David was only a shadow of the eternal and spiritual Kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. This spiritual Kingdom has substance, because it will continue forever in the NH&NE. The physical kingdom of David was temporary and thus it was only a shadow. We understand that the spiritual Kingdom of Christ harbors people from all nations and tribes and color and tongues, and we know from Rom 9 and from Gal 6 that this kingdom is called Israel, because Christ is called Israel, and all those who are in Christ also bear His name Israel, because we are the Bride of Christ. It would have been so logical if God had said in verse 33, "And He shall reign over the house of Israel forever". But God did not say that. God said, "And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever". Why Jacob? To understand this clearly I want you to turn to Gen 32:24 (2X), but put a sticker in Luke 1:33 because we are coming back to this chapter. Here in Gen 32 is the story where God changed the name of Jacob to Israel. Jacob had fled from his brother Esau to Padanaram, a small town in Mesopotamia. There He married two wives and two concubines. 40 years later Jacob had gathered a fortune in cattle and servants, and Jacob had 11 sons and one daughter. Then Jacob returned to the land of Canaan, but in his heart he was very afraid of his brother Esau. It is at this point in Jacob's life that God gave him a great assurance that God would always be with him and protect him. We read in Gen 32:24,
Ge 32:24 ¶ And Jacob was left alone; and there wrestled a Man with him until the breaking of the day.
Ge 32:25 And when He saw that He prevailed not against him, He touched the hollow of his thigh; and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint, as He wrestled with him.
Ge 32:26-27 And He said, Let me go, for the day breaketh. And he said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me. And He said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
Ge 32:28 And He said, "Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed".
Ge 32:29 And Jacob asked Him, and said, "Tell me, I pray thee, thy name". And He said, "Wherefore is it that thou dost ask after my name?" And He blessed him there.
Ge 32:30 And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel (Facing God): for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.
It was in the middle of the night that Jacob sent all his family and all his servants to the other side of the Jabok River. Jacob was left alone, and suddenly a Man appeared and started to wrestle with Jacob. Jacob wrestled for his life; he could not call anyone for help. But this Man was a Theophany, meaning He was an appearance of God in the form of a man. God wrestled with Jacob. God could have ended this wrestling match in one second, but God did not do that. God wanted Jacob to know that if he could wrestle with God, then certainly Esau would be no match, and thus Jacob did not have to be afraid of Esau. But there is much more meat in this story.
God changed his name from Jacob to Israel. Jacob means, "Supplanter", or "Deceiver". Jacob indeed was a deceiver. He deceived his father that he was Esau and received the blessing that was destined for Esau. The result was that he had to flee from Esau and landed in the hands of his uncle Laban, who was an even greater deceiver than Jacob. And now God changed his name to Israel, which means, "Ruling With God", or "Prince With God", "for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed". This event is a picture of salvation. It is only a picture, because Jacob was already saved. Just like the circumcision of Abraham was a picture of salvation, but Abraham was already saved. The picture is this: There was a battle, which is here the wrestling match between God and Jacob. Even when Jacob was handicapped he continued to struggle. God did not loose, but in the end God gave him a blessing and he was called "Prince With God". Now look at the Lord Jesus Christ. Was there a battle? Yes there was. Christ was laden with the guilt of our sins, so much so that in the eyes of God He looked like Jacob before he was saved. Christ, as our representative, endured the wrath of God on the cross. He did not fly off the cross in disgust, but He stayed and endured till the end. In the end He prevailed and He received the blessing and is called "Prince With God". Now look at us, or look at anyone who has become saved. Before we were saved we looked like Jacob before his salvation. We were liars and deceivers par excellance. There was a struggle going on inside us, because Satan did not want to give up his prey and our evil self leaned toward Satan. But God's irresistible grace prevailed. God could have ended this struggle in a moment, but God did not do that, because God teaches us through the struggles in our life. God brings us adversities in our life for our benefit. But when the struggle was over we received the blessing: we received a new heart, the evidence of which is faith and a desire to do God's will rather than our own will. Now we are called "Sons of God", and we are "Ruling With God" as His ambassadors on this earth. And when this earth shall be dissolved we shall be "Princes With God" in the NH&NE.
Now let us return to the Gospel according to Luke 1:33. The angel promised to Mary that her child "shall reign over the house of Jacob forever". In other words, Christ shall reign not only over those who have been saved already, but He shall reign also over all those who still need to be saved, and who look like Jacob before his salvation. If Christ is to reign over all His Elect people, then He must reign over all men in order to have control over all things to work together for His Elect. He must be absolutely sovereign. And so, if we do not have a Savior who is God, then He is no savior at all. How great a Savior is Christ? He is able to save a baby that is still in the womb. Listen to the angel Gabriel
#2. Blessed Art Thou Among Women (Luke 1:36-44)
Lu 1:36-37 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
Lu 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
Lu 1:39 ¶ And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda;
Lu 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
Lu 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:
Lu 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
Lu 1:43-44 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.
Elisabeth said, "Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb". Why is Mary blessed? Mary is blessed because she was saved. Anyone who has become saved is called blessed, because God bestowed His favor on him or her. But Mary is especially blessed because she is honored to bear the Christ child. This was an honor that could befall only one woman in the entire history of mankind. "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb". This reflects that Elisabeth understood Who it was that Mary was carrying in her womb. How did Elisabeth know? God did not disclose it to us, but God gave this supernatural insight to her. This gift of hearing the message of the Gospel was given to Elisabeth in a supernatural way. But we recognize that the gift of hearing the Gospel loud and clear is entirely a gift from God. We realize that when we speak about the Gospel to other people, and then we find out that they are deaf and blind to the truth of the Word of God. In fact, they do not want to hear what the Bible says, because they are in "the snare of the Devil and are taken captive by him at his will". So, when they come to verse 43, they twist it to their own destruction. Let us hear V.43 again
Lu 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
Why did Elisabeth say, "The mother of my Lord"? Indeed the Messiah, the Christ, in Mary's womb is Elisabeth's Lord, and Mary is the mother of the body she gave to God the Son. Mary gave God the Son a human body. In fact, she did not volunteer it; He took it. Mary is the mother of Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth. But the Roman Catholic Church has twisted these words to their own destruction. They read from the words of Elisabeth that Mary is "the mother of God". They are well on their way to crown Mary as the Queen of Heaven. The Queen of heaven is mentioned 5 times in the Prophecy of Jeremiah. In all 5 cases God was very angry of this gross idolatry. But then Elisabeth sai
Lu 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Why did Elisabeth suddenly switch to the third person? Why did she use the pronoun "she" in this one verse? We must realize that Elisabeth is speaking under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. Even though Elisabeth was unaware of the future letters of the Apostle Paul, she understood that the entire body of believers is addressed as "she", because we all together are the Bride of Christ. God is not referring to everyone who believes, period, because we may believe to worship false gods, and then still go to Hell. God is focusing here on everyone who believes the true Gospel. That's an entirely different matter. The devils also believe, and tremble, but the devils do not believe the true Gospel. When we can hear and believe the Gospel of the Bible, which is so unattractive to most people, we know that we have been blessed with grace from God. We believe what Elisabeth says here: "For there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord". The things God has told us in the Bible will certainly come to pass. God has sworn that these things are true. Has God promised anything and has not done it? No!
Mary's response to Elisabeth's greeting is often called:
#3. Magnificat (Luke 1:46-56, Heb 12:29, Deut 5:15)
This is the first word of this passage in the Latin Vulgate. The first three words in the Latin Vulgate are "Magnificat mea anima", which means, "My soul doth magnify". Let us read this here in English,
Lu 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
Lu 1:47-48 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Lu 1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
Lu 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
Lu 1:51-52 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
Lu 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Lu 1:54 He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
Lu 1:55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
Lu 1:56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.
We can recognize three parts in this song of Mary. The first part deals with what God has done for her personally. We can take this to heart when we are on the evangelism trail. No big words are necessary. We just witness of what God has done for us personally. That is what Mary does here from verses 46-50. First of all she rejoices in God her Savior. She does not say "the Savior", but she says "My Savior". In other words, Mary acknowledges that she also is in need of a Savior. She admits to her own sins, for which she needs a merciful Savior. She does not know yet how He is going to save people. She is not aware that Christ would have to go to the cross to save her. But she is full of joy that God has saved her, because she realizes that her sins cause her to be in trouble with God.
What does it mean to have a Savior? Mary says that she rejoices in God her Savior. Only if you have God as your Savior do you really have a Redeemer. Anyone less than God will not be sufficient. The reason is that God is a Righteous God, which means He is a Just God. The Greek word for Righteous and for Just is the same word. Since God is a Righteous Judge, He must demand a full payment for sins committed. If anyone is willing to be our stand-in before the Judgment throne of God, he must be able to endure the full payment for our sins, since God is a Righteous Judge. Therefore, if an angel, or any human being were willing to be our stand-in, trying to atone for our sins, he would be consumed in no time under the wrath of God, because our God is a consuming fire (Heb 12:29). Only if that person would be God Himself, and at the same time would be our kinsman, could he be our Kinsman-Redeemer. Therefore, any religion that does not acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as being God Himself does not have a Savior. Furthermore, any person who has a Jesus other than who is described by the Bible alone does not have a Savior, because he does not worship the same God who is described by the Bible alone. Only those who believe the entire Word of God, and who have an urgent desire to do those things that are pleasing in God's sight, have Savior, because God actually saved them. These are the signs of a true salvation.
In the second part of the Song of Mary, verses 51-53, Mary praises in general terms God's power and God's judgments. In these three verses the sovereignty of God is on display. Look at the contrasts in these verses. In verse 51 God scatters the proud. Who are those proud? The sin of pride was the original sin of Satan. The proud are all those who show evidence that they are on the side of Satan by being proud of their own works. The contrast is that God has showed strength with His arm, to save a people for Himself. For example, we read in Deut 5:15, "The Lord Thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm". He rescued a bunch of slaves who could not free themselves. In verse 52 God has put down the mighty from their seats. These are the mighty who oppress them who are less endowed with powers. We see that today in the workplace, where many executives who are high and mighty suddenly find themselves in hot water, and they have to leave the Company. The contrast is that God has exalted those who humbly wait for Him. In verse 53 God sent away those who were materially rich on earth, but were negligent in sharing their wealth. We think, for example of the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus, in Luke 16. The rich man was sent into Hell empty handed. On the other hand, Lazarus who was hungry on earth, He has filled with good things in heaven.
The third part of the Song of Mary consists of verses 54-55, where Mary applies the power and the wisdom of God in the matters at hand in the nation of Israel. God has helped Israel in the past, as He promised to Abraham, and so He will also do for the NT Israel, the church. This is a great comfort to us, that God will never leave us nor forsake us.
AMEN. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.