December 17, 2023

Have a "Mary" Christmas!

Pastor: Wade Trimmer Scripture: Luke 1:23–55

Probably the most frequently used expression during the Christmas Season is, "I hope you have a Merry Christmas!"  However, our prayer for others should be that they will have a "Mary" Christmas. By this, I mean that what happened to Mary, the mother of Jesus, literally, can and must happen to you spiritually if you are to experience the true reason for the season and the ultimate purpose for your existence.

Just as real, unalterable, and historical as the way salvation came into history through the womb of the Virgin Mary is the way the human soul enters into salvation.

The good news about a "Mary" Christmas is that it is absolutely free, but incredibly expensive. A "Mary" Christmas will not end on December 25, but will continue throughout time and eternity.

"How can this be possible?" you ask. Mary asked the same question upon hearing the good news. The answer begins by:

I. Jesus Entering into Me

1. A "Mary" Christmas begins with God’s Sovereign Initiation – 1:26-28

Salvation is of the Lord in its conception, its accomplishment, and it’s application. Gabriel shows up in Mary’s life unexpectedly and uninvitedly. His introduction to her declared that she was the favored one of the Lord. Notice in Lk. 1:28, “And [Gabriel] came to her and said, 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’” The word for "favored" here is used one other time in the New Testament (in Ephesians 1:6) where it means the free bestowal of grace. So the very first thing Gabriel says to Mary is that she is about to receive a free bestowal of God's grace. She does not deserve this honor. It is grace. "The Lord is with you, Mary, in a way you can't fathom. But never forget, it is a favor, a free gift of grace."

Mary is the “original,” the “first model,” the prototype of the way God wants to incarnate Himself in human beings.  Mary was unique in that she was the only biological mother of Jesus, but she was a universal person in all other ways.  She, like me (like all people), was a sinner who needed to be saved.  She, like me (like all saved people), was a recipient of God’s saving grace.  She, like me (like all people), was a needy human being with frail mind and emotions.  She, like me (like all saved people), was a worshiper who was staggered by the grace of God which came to her. 

There are certain traditions that have an unscriptural veneration of Mary, in particular, Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

Contrary to the false beliefs of those who elevate Mary to a position of equality with Jesus, Mary herself declared that she was the recipient of God’s grace and salvation just like other needy sinners (see Lk. 1:47).  It was only because of God’s grace that Mary was saved from her sins and was greatly privileged to bring God’s Son into the world.  On the one hand, the grace of God was manifested in the pardon of her sins, and on the other it was manifested in the once-in-history privilege of her becoming the mother of Jesus.  Mary was a recipient of God’s grace, the “overflowing favor of God,” and so am I. 

2. A "Mary" Christmas begins with God’s Shattering Interruption.

The day Mary became pregnant with Jesus began rather ordinarily. She was probably washing dishes or gathering firewood when her activities were suddenly and dramatically interrupted by Gabriel. The plans for Mary’s future had already been laid out for her by her parents. Although still only in her teens, this peasant girl's parents had arranged for her to become the wife of Joseph, a poor carpenter. Then in one day's time Mary's life was forever changed! A poor unknown teenager from Nazareth became the most honored woman in history.

Every person who has experienced Christ coming to live in them, i.e., salvation, has experienced a life-shattering interruption of their natural lifestyle.

For this to become a reality, Mary had to extend a specific invitation to the Angel to perform the miracle. Luke 1:38, "And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word...."

Mary had no idea of the full implications and the meaning and cost of the “IT” that she welcomed when she said to the angel Gabriel, “be IT done to me…”  

"It" would mean a pregnancy out of wedlock.

"It" would include giving birth far from her home.

"It" would be a death sentence on her child's life, and a night flight into Egypt.

"It" would be long years of a simple, ordinary life in a no-name village.

"It" would be three years of trying to understand the transformation of her son into the Son of God, and.

"It" would be the horror of the cross, and a mother's heartbreak at the tomb.

But "it" was worth it all when it became, finally, the “it” of the resurrection and the ascension.

3. A "Mary" Christmas Requires a Supernatural Incarnation.

The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that she will become the recipient of a miracle of the Holy Spirit that will result in God becoming "in-fleshed" in her womb. (Luke 1:35, "And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:37 “For nothing will be impossible with God."

In 1:35, Mary is told that the Holy Spirit will “overshadow you.” The Greek word is "episkiasei”, which means, "to envelope in a haze of brilliancy or to invest with supernatural influence." The human body for Jesus was prepared for Him by the Spirit of God (Heb.10:5) who “overshadowed” Mary. That word is applied to the presence of God in the holy of holies in the Jewish tabernacle and temple (Ex. 40:35, And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.). This glory cloud is a visible manifestation of the glory and presence of God; this means that the same power of God that was with Moses and others in the Old Testament is now going to do a unique work in the life of Mary. This delicate expression rules out crude ideas of a ‘mating’ of the Holy Spirit with Mary. Mary’s womb became a holy of holies for the Son of God!

Mary said "yes" to God's plan despite what she and Joseph had planned. Her specific invitation resulted in an immediate incarnation. I believe at the moment she said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word”, she became pregnant by the Word of God.

We must always remember that the gospel is not the imitation of Christ; it is the implantation and impartation of Christ. God's design for man is incarnational, which means “to come into the flesh.”

What is man made for? Man is designed by God and for God. Man builds a house to suit the occupant. A hive for bees, a sty for pigs, a stable for horses, a kennel for dogs. What did God have in mind when He created man?  A house suitable for God to live in! Man's body was designed as a vessel and vehicle for the housing of his spirit and God's Holy Spirit! When the first Adam sinned, his spirit was vacated by the Spirit of God and his body became a death chamber, housing a dead spirit in a decaying and dying temple.

"Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, if He is not born in thee, thy soul is still forlorn."

When Jesus took a human body, he demonstrated that the human body is still a worthy Temple for the majesty of God, a divine residence for the display of God's glory.  The apostle John wrote, "We beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."  A "Mary" Christmas means that our house is returned to the Original Owner for immediate occupancy!

This happening is called the new birth. When that happens, my sin‑deadened spirit is made alive by the incarnation of Christ's life via the Other Jesus without a body, the Holy Spirit. Then my body becomes the Temple of the Holy Spirit. I become extremely valuable, not because I maintain that I am, but because I contain Him who is inestimably valuable; not because of who I am but because of whose I have become.  Christ in me the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27). It is no longer I but Christ who lives in me. Christ who is our life shall appear.

O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us we pray, cast out our sin and enter in: Be born in us today!

II. Jesus Growing Within Me

1. Stretching Me - Luke 2:5 – “great with child (KJV).”

When a woman is with child, we say that she is expecting. But after a few months she quits expecting and becomes very certain! She begins to show. Everything inside begins to get rearranged to make room for the new life she's carrying!  Right up front she's forced to change her routines, keep new bathroom schedule's, morning sickness, a bladder greatly reduced in capacity; new menu plans; new recreation practices. She is forced to buy new clothes- Why? Because the new life within her is growing and the old clothes will not fit! 

When Jesus comes to live in me, He radically alters the living room of my heart. He changes my routines, my schedule, my appetites, my recreation practices, and my appearance.  It is not at all pleasant, but absolutely necessary if He is going to recreate himself in me and allow me to re‑present Him to the world.

2. Shaping Me  

Have you ever noticed that an expectant mother changes shapes? Why? Because a new life is developing in her. Galatians 4:9, "My little children, of whom I travail in birth, until Christ be formed in you." Hebrews 6:1, " Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, etc." Christians must grow up - develop to full term. Growth must be steady, symmetrical, and significant, i.e. with purpose. Growth means stretching. Stretching causes stretch marks.

III. Jesus Happening Through Me

  1. Rejoicing will be Expressed Lk. 1:46-49 - And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Mary exults in, rejoices in, is jubilant, in the joy of Jesus happening in her. Christianity was ushered in with singing. Jesus growing in me will produce a song. He lifts us up from the miry pit, cleans us up and tunes us up - putting a song in our heart. Unbelief has no hymns, no anthems, and no oratorios. When Robert Ingersoll, the militant sceptic, died, the printed notice of his funeral said, "There will be no singing." Someone was reported to have said after viewing his body, "Poor Robert, all dressed up and nowhere to go!"

Luke's gospel is dominated by ecstatic joy that salvation and the kingdom of God have come to man in Jesus Christ.

Have you noticed that the nativity story rings with joy. The angel to Zechariah: “You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at [John’s] birth” (Luke 1:14). John himself could not even wait to be born before he rejoiced in Jesus; as Elizabeth said to Mary, “When the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy” (v. 44). So Mary sang her Magnificat: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (vv. 46–47). When John was born, all the neighbors rejoiced with Elizabeth (v. 58). And when Jesus was born, the angelic announcement came, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy” (2:10).

All this joy is the work of the Holy Spirit. John, filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb (Luke 1:15). Zechariah, filled with the Spirit (v. 67). Elizabeth, filled with the Spirit (v. 41). Simeon, covered with the Spirit (2:25).

This exuberant joy and passionate hope is based on the revelation that salvation is a present reality and a future certainty in total perfection. If Jesus is being formed in you there will be joy, exuberance, a celebration of life.

IV. Jesus Impacting the World Around Me

1. Confessing Him as the Victor - Luke 1:51 -55 -The eyes of faith, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, enable her to see and confess that Jesus is the Victor before he ever comes into the world.

"The Magnificat declares that the birth of the Messiah is the sign of victory. The King, God incarnate comes to claim His kingdom, to dethrone all his enemies, reverse all the priorities of men, to establish in their stead his priorities and will, and to rule in strength, mercy and grace. Mary put together various promises from the Old Testament in a joyful hymn of triumph."

  1. Bringing Him into the world - Luke 2:7, “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

By the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit, she conceived Him, carried Him, and then presented Him to the world.

"The incarnation was and is the key to the universe. It is also the key to man's origin, to man's constitution, to man's history, to man's destiny." (Arthur Custance)

We are to be bringing him into the world, fleshing him out before the world. This world doesn't need us, but it desperately needs Him who lives in us.

Our constant exclamation should not be "What is coming upon the world, but "Remember who has come into the world, is now, through his people still in the world and will one day come again literally, bodily and personally to take over.

The weak, the insignificant, the simple, the nobodies, who have seen Jesus as the Everything will have a greater impact on the world than the combined efforts of all the greats in the eyes of the world.

A French pastor was called to serve in a small French community. At one of the first homes he visited, the wife was away, so he could only talk with the husband. When the wife returned, she probed her husband about the nature of the new pastor s visit:

"What did he say?" she asked.

"He asked, 'Does Christ live here?", the husband replied. "He didn't really ask anything else. Just, Does Christ live here.”

"Well, surely you told him that we are the church's biggest supporters.

"He didn’t ask that," the husband repeated. "He only asked, ‘Does Christ live here?"'

"Well, you must have told him that we read our Bible and say our prayers every day.

"He didn't ask about that either. He only asked, “Does Christ live here?"

“Well, did you tell him that we attend his services every Sunday and sit in the front?" the wife persisted.

"He didn’t ask about that. He only wanted to know, ‘Does Christ live here?"'

And that's all God wants to know. Christ wants to be born in you and to live in and through you.

Have you made plans to have a "Mary" Christmas? Have you come to experience His entering into you, growing within you, happening through you, and impacting the world around you?

I pray that you will have a never ending "Mary" Christmas!