Faithlife
Faithlife

Finding Favor with the Lord

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Introduction:

  1. Legend says that in ancient times women prayed to be the mother of the Messiah.
    • A double blessing.
    • To be the mother of a male child as well as mother of the Messiah.
  2. We don't know the answer to this, it would be interesting to know how women perceived their self-qualification to be the mother of the Messiah.
    • Would they imagine that such a birth could only occur to the rich and powerful?
    • Would they disqualify self because they were too lowly?
    • It was a common saying that good things didn't/couldn't come from Nazareth--Mary's home.

I. A Time of Danger:

  1. To bring the Messiah would have been a great blessing.
  2. Part of the prophetic language surrounding Jesus' birth was born in the political crisis of 730's BC when Israel and Syria formed an alliance against Assyria which also threatened Judah.
  3. Isaiah prophesied that a young woman would conceive and bear a deliverer, Isaiah 7:14.
  4. In the same way that Judah longed for deliverance, so did the Jews at the time of Jesus' birth long for delivery from Rome. Matthew, in fact, used Isaiah's prophesy to refer to Messiah.

II. A Story of Possibilities:

  1. There are several stories of God working in improbable situations and times such as this.
  2. Some of the best stories are, like this one, birth stories.
    • Sarah, 90-years-old, gave birth to a son, and with this began the Israelite nation.
    • Genesis says that God remembered Rachel...and...opened her womb. Genesis 30:25. Her son Joseph was responsible for helping to feed his family in a great famine.
    • Hannah was unable to bear children and prayed diligently for God's assistance, 1 Samuel 1:12. Her son became a great prophet for Israel.
    • An angel went to Zechariah and told him that his wife, Elizabeth, would give birth at great age, Luke 1:18. Her son would be known as John, and he would turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
  3. In the Mary story there is even a more improbable idea. This is not an old woman. This is a young woman, still a virgin. Her conception would be extraordinary. (It was not virgin BIRTH.)

III. The Way God Works:

  1. These stories are not surprising when you read how God works.
  2. A good example is the church at Corinth. There was a group at that church that placed emphasis on rank, pedigree, and knowledge.
    • This emphasis created dissention in the church.
    • Some people were even cut out of the church's social life because of it. (They were slaves and people of low estate.)
  3. Quoting Isaiah, Paul wrote, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise...God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 1 Corinthians 1:19, 28.
  4. Mary understood the significance of what was happening, and she said, ...God...has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant...He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, Luke 1:48, 52.

IV. Something Stranger Is Coming:

  1. Matthew has taken care to draw our attention to the peculiarities of Tamar, Rahab, Ruth and Batlisheba.
    • First of all, women in a list of men.
    • Not only that, women with interesting twists in their lives.
  2. N.T. Wright wrote that this strange genealogy was presumably in order to warn us that something even stranger is coming.
  3. Strange indeed.
    • God incarnating man.
    • God taking up residence in a common animal feed trough.
    • God suffering to the point of death.
  4. Mary said, let it be with me according to your word, Luke 1:38. That qualified her to be the mother of Jesus. What a contrast between Eve's rebellion and Mary's obedience.

Conclusion:

  1. There is no human initiative in this story.
  2. This is really not conception but rather CREATION.
  3. William Self tells a story about a little boy preparing for his school play.
    • The little boy had one line. Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy.
    • But on the occasion of the play, he forgot his one line.
    • After a long, pregnant pause he said, Have I got news for you.
    • That is my message to you today!
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