THE GIFT OF JESUS
Luke 1: 47-55
For the last Two weeks we've been talking about the gifts that God has given us. Today, we're going to talk about the greatest gift of all-the gift of Jesus.
It's ironic that the Christmas story gets lost in the celebration of Christmas.
It's such a beautiful story, and its drama is overpowering.
"A young unmarried girl about to give birth to a child who is destined to lead His people to freedom...
A man so in love with his betrothed and so confident in God's faithfulness that he defies social customs and marries her anyway...
A band of mystics spend years following a star that they believe will lead them to a new king...
A greedy, insecure ruler commits murderous atrocities in a village in order to protect his throne...
A gang of teenage boys working the night shift witness an extra-terrestrial worship service...
A little baby, born in a stable, who would change the course of history,
It takes the sizzle out of The Miracle of 34th Street, doesn't it?
It makes you wonder how a show about Rudolph or Frosty could hold our interest, when the real story is so compelling. It's amazing that people would tune in to those stories when the Christmas story has so much to offer.
Jesus came into the world as God's gift to mankind. And, of course, we know what He came to do. He came to save us from sin.
John 3:16 God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
The Christmas story begins with Mary, a young Jewish girl, saying her prayers, when an angel of the Lord appears before her and announces to her that she will give birth to God's Son. A short time later, she visited the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist.
Elizabeth said to Mary, "Why am I so favored that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" And Mary responded with perhaps the most beautiful poetry found in scripture.
It's called the Magnificat and it reminds us of the meaning of Christmas. This morning, we will look at this passage of scripture more closely, as we consider why Christ came into the world.
The Song of Mary
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
49 For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.
54 He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
55 As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.”
Luke 1:48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;.
Luke 1: 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly
Jesus came for the lowly people. In His first sermon, He used Isaiah 61 as His text; stating that He had been sent by the Father to bring good news to the afflicted, bind-up the broken-hearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners. Jesus came to help people who were hurting. He said,
Matthew 9:13 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
He didn't come to congratulate the "good" people for being good; He came to minister to those who weren't good, so they could become good. He didn't align himself with the powerful, but with the weak and lowly.
When God chose to enter human history, He could have chosen any method for doing so. He could have announced His arrival to kings, but kings would have been threatened.
He could have told the religious leaders of the day, but the religious leaders weren't listening.
He could have announced it to the rich, but the rich weren't interested in things of an eternal nature.
Instead, he chose a young girl and a humble carpenter to raise the child who would become a king whose kingdom would be without end.
There is no room for arrogance in our relationship to God. Jesus taught us, and Paul reminds us, that we are saved by faith, not works. We are saved by God's goodness, not our own. If we're not humble enough to recognize our need for Christ, we'll miss the whole point of Christmas.
Luke 1:53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
When Jesus came into the world there were no social programs designed to take care of the needs of the poor.
A poor person had few options and truly lived a life of desperation. Roman society was based upon a racist, elitist, oppressive class system that made it impossible for people to improve their lot in life. The poor were destined to remain poor. Those most vulnerable in this system were widows and orphans.
In this country we tend to have a distorted view of the poor. The official poverty level for a family of four in most parts of this country is about $23,850 a year for a family of four.
(As a comparison, in the West Indies it's around $600 per year.)
Generally, when we talk about poor people in America, we're talking about people who do without luxuries, not necessities.
And the truth is, much of this "poverty" is self-inflicted. Plus, we've all heard horror stories about enterprising individuals who have developed a method for beating the social services system-at our expense. Be that as it may, it doesn't give us permission to turn our backs on those who are genuinely poor.
There are hundreds of thousands of them in this country and multiplied millions throughout the world. Just as it was in Rome 2000 years ago, those most vulnerable are the very old and the very young.
I heard an amazing statistic not long ago. Donations and charitable gifts always increase during the Holiday season. Many non-profit organizations plan their biggest fund-raisers for this time of year, knowing people are more generous at Christmas time.
How can people afford to be more generous at this time of the year? They have more expenses now than they do any other time of the year. They have presents to buy for the kids, the cousins, the aunts, the uncles, the nieces and nephews, brothers and sisters, co-workers, and (they better not forget) their boss.
They have Christmas parties to go to, pageants to attend, Christmas decorations, extra food, and on and on. How do people afford to give so much at this time of year? It's because December is the one month of the year people are the least likely to spend money on themselves.
The fact is, we could do year-round what we do at Christmas time if our year-round priorities were the same as our Christmas time priorities.
Jesus came for the poor. He spoke out for the poor because they couldn't speak for themselves. He spoke out for them because they matter to Him, and they should matter to us also.
Luke 1:47 Mary said "My spirit rejoices in God my Savior."
In the opening phrase of the Magnificat, Mary acknowledged her need for a savior. Jesus came into a lost world. He came, in His own words, "to seek and save what was lost." Luke 19:10
Jesus didn't come into the world only to teach us a better way, or show us how to live, or simply to heal the sick and raise the dead, though He did all of those things. Nor did He come into the world to condemn it, though He certainly had every right to.
Jesus came into the world to save the world. He came because we needed a savior. From the very beginning, God's plan was that Jesus would save us from our sins. Before Christ was born, an angel said to Joseph...
Matthew 1:21 You are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.
What began in Bethlehem was finished at Calvary. Jesus died on the cross for the sins of the world, including your sins and mine. This is the greatest gift. The gift of Jesus.
This is one gift many people fail to unwrap. They continue to live their lives apart from the Lord Jesus. I want to encourage you this morning: If you haven't unwrapped the greatest Christmas gift of all (Jesus Christ), do so today.