Summary of sermon by Erlo Stegen, 20 Dec 2015
Luke 1:30 – 35
30 And the angel said to her, Do not fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
31 And behold! You shall conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name JESUS.
32 He shall be great and shall be called the Son of the Highest. And the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David.
33 And He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there shall be no end.
34 Then Mary said to the angel, How shall this be, since I do not know a man?
35 And the angel answered and said to her, The Holy Spirit shall come on you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that Holy One which will be born of you shall be called Son of God.
Mary was very young when this happened, perhaps 15 or 16. The angel told her not to fear. Fear is a strange thing. Abraham too was afraid one day, when he entered the land of the Philistines and said that his wife, Sarah, was his sister (Gen 20:1-12), which was partly true (Gen 20:12). The disciples too were afraid when the terrible storm arose on the sea (Matt 8:23-26). And till today it’s the same, people are ruled by fear. Even at Christmas time, when we should be focused on Christ alone, fear reigns. Fear causes big things to happen in this world. Just look at the many whites that have left SA out of fear. Even though Jesus said that we should not worry about the future, for today’s worries are enough (Matt 6:34). God commands us not to fear (Is 41:10). Satan finds a weapon when he finds us afraid. Even lions find it profitable to cause fear. If they find a kraal full of cattle, and there’s no way to get into the kraal, they surround the kraal, and stand upwind in such a way that the cattle smell them. It causes so much fear in the cattle that they break down their own protective kraal and then the lions can catch them.
A famous preacher, John McNeil from Scotland was troubled by fear a lot when he was small. On the way to school he had to pass through a valley with a big, dark forest, and it was rumoured that there were robbers in the forest. Whenever he passed through the forest he was very afraid that the criminals would get hold of him. One night he had to pass through the forest. It was very dark and he walked very carefully through the forest. He was very afraid and thought he heard voices, and that it was his end. Then he heard a voice saying, ‘John is it you?’ It was the voice of his father. He was paralyzed by fear and yet it was his own father accompanying him. And that voice brought peace to him.
There is the true Father who can rid us from all our anxieties. We read in the Bible that three times God sent an angel to announce the coming birth of His son. But in each case the angel’s appearance brought great fear on the people. Yet he brought a message of peace. Each time the angel told them not to fear and then brought his message. We need to learn not to fear. Fear is an evil thing.
A doctor once said that for those who fear that they will get cancer, the fear of cancer is worse to them than the caner.
One might find someone who is very afraid of the future, yet they forget that God is fully able to look after their needs. God is able to care for us and protect us always. He is able to sovereignly engineer circumstances for He is God. Therefore we should trust Him. He is above all circumstances and able to protect us in all circumstances.
Mary, though so young, had peace. Mary was a pure virgin, never having been touched by a man. She was pure in body and pure in heart. She lived close to the Lord, was well-pleasing to God, and her future blossomed. But when Gabriel greeted Mary, her life seemed to be suddenly turned upside down. For Mary was told something that would be a disgrace and a reproach. She would be a person being criticized and humbled. But all of that would glorify the name of the Lord. She received a great privilege. But there was a danger too. For in that time, for a girl to be pregnant outside of marriage would mean a death-sentence.
Sometimes God allows circumstances to come our way and we cannot understand or comprehend why it is so. He does it to help us to mature spiritually and that we may know Him in a more intimate way. When these things come our way it is easy to start questioning, thinking it’s God’s judgment. It’s easy then to become critical, even of the Lord Himself. And yet, through these circumstances, He is lifting us up, giving us a more noble Christian life, close to Him. The Lord does not hide from us these difficulties, for He tells us that we as His followers are to take up our cross daily and deny ourselves and follow Him (Luke 9:23).
We live in an era of human rights, where people stand up for their rights. A husband might say that he is the head of the home and therefore things must go a certain way. But when we walk with the Lord we bend to His will, to grow in Him, that we may know Him in a more intimate way. It’s so easy, when difficult circumstances come upon us, to become critical and think things are no longer on track. It’s so easy to have questions. But if we humble ourselves and bow before God’s will He will lift us up in due time (James 4:10). His way is a nobler way. We cannot as Christians avoid the way of the cross.
A certain lady named Nancy, lived a life of much poverty. Her work situation was very difficult. She was overloaded with work, but she was always radiant with glory. She was a triumphant believer. One day, a wealthy lady with a gloomy face, came to her and said, ‘you are so happy. But with your meagre salary, what will your future be? Or if your employer moves and you end up without a job, what will happen?’ Nancy answered, ‘stop. I don’t think I will end up with what you say, for the Lord is my shepherd, and it’s all your suggestions that make you so miserable.’ Some people are prepared to sacrifice everything just for a bigger paycheck, and so they miss out spiritually.
Mary was fully prepared to submit to the Lord. She wanted God’s will to be done in her life. We so easily pray, ‘Your will be done.’ But think of what it will be like when God’s will is truly done in our life. Mary is an example to both old and young. We who are Christians should all learn from her.
No bad luck happen to a Christian. Let us live for Him in faith, believing that all things work together for the good of those that love God.
Mary and Joseph were about to get married when this we read of in our text happened. Joseph saw it as very hard, knowing that he was not the father of her child. All his dreams were shattered. All his joy vanished. Joseph was faced with two decisions, either to divorce her in secret, or openly and publicly, exposing her shame. It would be a great humiliation in the eyes of the whole community, and result in the death of Mary. Suddenly Joseph’s life was upside down, because his betrothed was pregnant. Many of us would have simply thrown in the towel and given up all hope. But God had already arranged everything, and did what was completely different from the cultural norms of the day. Joseph was a righteous man. He didn’t speak to anyone about it. We sin so much because we speak so much. But Joseph knew to keep quiet. It was not to be his end and destruction, for when he was still pondering what to do, God sent His angel to Joseph to tell him what the matter really was, that he was to be the one to look after the Messiah as He grows up. God looked at all men and chose Joseph as the right one to look after His Son. He was like the father of our Saviour.
Sometimes God’s ways cost a lot, even total sacrifice, but the end result is far more rewarding than the sacrifice. If we look at the end result, we will have to ask forgiveness for ever having critical thoughts of God’s ways and thinking to go against His will. Just think of being chosen as the one to have Jesus Christ in your family! If you allow God to work in your life, then it will be wonderful. However if you go against God’s will for you, things will turn out bad. It was Joseph’s priority to make what God says of paramount importance. Even though he would be laughed at, misunderstood and humiliated, for him God’s will was to be first in his life. The will of God was the most important. Don’t be afraid of the very thing God has appointed for you. You might see it to be bad at the beginning, but finally see that it is full of blessing. Don’t pay too much attention to the things that come across your path. Just seek God’s will and then do what He says and expects of you. Then above all things His Name will be glorified.