Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Fourth Sunday of Advent + December 18, 2016
Text: Matthew 1:18-25
Review: In the genealogy of Jesus, there are certain names which stand out. The Holy Spirit is drawing our eyes to these five women: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary. During the midweek services, we’ve been exploring why these women appear in the human lineage of the Savior.
When it comes to the lives of the other women and the men they partnered with, we can relate. They’re flesh and blood, human, sinful, messy lives—family drama, war, marital unfaithfulness.
But when it comes to the story of Mary, absolutely none of us can relate to how Jesus was conceived. It’s beyond us.
- None of us has had an angel announce the birth of their child. Yes, a few of the barren women of old have had angelic announcements, but none were without a husband (Sarah, Samson’s mother, Elizabeth).
- Never before and never again has a virgin conceived and borne a son. Genetic engineers may accomplish strange feats, but they will never conceive a child without a human father.
But Mary’s story being beyond us is exactly the point. Sin has so surrounded us, seeped into our pores, and flourished in our hearts, that no natural-born man or woman can do anything to save themselves, much less the entire corrupt human race.
God made it clear that it was beyond our reach when speaking to King Ahaz. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The Savior to be born would be the work of God alone.
Yet though He is beyond us, He is also in every way with us—except for sin. The Son of God enters the world through His mother’s womb, He is born, He hungers, He nurses at His mother’s breasts. Jesus is raised by His parents and submits to them. He grows up around relatives, friends, and acquaintances. He goes to weddings and gets invited to dinner, and mourns over friends who die.
On earth, the occasion also came for Him not to be like us. He was baptized in the Jordan and visibly anointed by the Holy Spirit and declared by the Father’s voice to be God’s only-begotten Son. He went about teaching with authority and healing every kind of disease, sometimes even raising the dead. Then He walked a road alone, one only He could walk, up the hill of Calvary to the cross. There, the sinless-born Son of Mary died in place of every sin-born son and daughter of the earth.
On the Third Day He again blazed a path that no man could when He was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father. After 40 days, it was He who ascended into heaven to prepare a place for every believer, to dwell in the Lord’s house eternally. This is God’s fervent desire for every person under heaven.
It’s very fitting that the genealogies in Scripture end with Jesus. Every person named has a unique story with high and low points. But none of them could be right with God and find an eternal home without the One who came last. Even Mary herself, the maiden who bore God in her womb, needed this Savior. Without a doubt, the only way for any one of us to be a child of God is through Jesus.
Mary made Jesus a blood relative to all these sinners, but Jesus made Mary and all people blood relatives with God through faith.
That’s where you and I fit into the genealogy of Jesus. We are not forerunners, according to time, but the offspring of faith. The family tree of God is rooted in Jesus, the God-man, the Savior of the sinful race. “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers.” Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ! Amen.
 Matthew 1:3, 5, 6, 16
 Isaiah 7:14
 Hebrews 4:15
 Luke 2:41-52
 Mark 6:3-4
 John 2:1-2, Luke 7:36, John 11:33-35
 Matthew 3:16-17
 John 13:36
 Romans 8:29