Mary the Virgin Mother (Matthew 1:18-25

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.[1]  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.”[2]  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.[3]  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.[4]  He grows up around relatives, friends, and acquaintances.[5]  He goes to weddings and gets invited to dinner, and mourns over friends who die.[6]
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.[7]  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.[8]  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.”[9]  Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ! Amen.
[1] Matthew 1:3, 5, 6, 16
[2] Isaiah 7:14
[3] Hebrews 4:15
[4] Luke 2:41-52
[5] Mark 6:3-4
[6] John 2:1-2, Luke 7:36, John 11:33-35
[7] Matthew 3:16-17
[8] John 13:36
[9] Romans 8:29

Advent Midweek 2: Ruth the Moabite (Ruth 1:6-17)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Advent 2 Midweek – December 7, 2016
Text: Ruth 1:6-17

Ruth was a woman without an earthly family.  Sin and its effects had caused her to lose her husband and she also lost her home and inheritance.
With Naomi she found a family.
Yet with Naomi’s God she found much more.
“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
is God in his holy habitation.
God settles the solitary in a home;
he leads out the prisoners to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” (Psalm 68:5-6)
This is in God’s nature to be a Father.
He is Creator – He is the source of our life and provides all that we need in this life.  Even when Bethlehem, the house of bread, suffered famine, God shows His faithfulness in preserving life.
He creates out of nothing, so that even if we are brought to the lowest point, God is able to raise up.
In God, Ruth found a true, heavenly Father.  He is one who above all, cares for her and all who cling to Him by faith.  His faithfulness doesn’t change, even if droughts, sickness, sadness, or death bring change.  Ruth lost everything, but in God she gained it all—a family, a home, a future, and peace.
But it didn’t stop for just Ruth:
13 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife. And he went in to her, and the Lord gave her conception, and she bore a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! 15 He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Then Naomi took the child and laid him on her lap and became his nurse. 17 And the women of the neighborhood gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi.” They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David. (Ruth 4:13-17)
Through her and her kinsman-redeemer, Boaz, a true redeemer was born for all people of the earth.  In Him, everyone who is left poor in spirit finds solace.  Amen.

Advent Midweek 1: Rahab the Harlot (Joshua 2:1-11)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Advent Midweek 1 – November 30, 2016
Text: Joshua 2:1-11
Rahab had the faith to recognize “God in the heavens above”
She saw which nation the Lord was with, and threw her lot in with them.
She confessed her faith by asking for protection when Israel invaded Jericho.
She looked forward to her future being with God’s people (Heb. 11)
Her faith was also active in what she did.
She risked her life to further Israel’s mission.
She hid the spies, hoping for a future, rather than the king’s reward.
She received the benefits of faith when she and her family were delivered from death.
Is ours a living faith?
In confirmation, we promise before God that, by God’s grace, we will remain true to this faith and suffer all, even death, rather than fall away.
When that faith is challenged, where is our trust?
In the immediate reward of popularity, avoiding controversy, saving our skin from lawsuits.
Or do we stake our lives on the Kingdom God has won for us, and which is ours through Christ?
Rahab is part of the genealogy of Christ not because she was any better than the rest of us, but through faith, her hope was in the mercy and salvation of the God of heaven.  By God’s grace, He will give you too the faith which makes you a citizen of His eternal Kingdom.  Amen.