Monday, May 12, 2014
Jesus, Mary & Joseph! ( A Mother's Day Sermon )
The birth of our Lord was doubtless one of the greatest miracles recorded in Scripture! For a young woman like Mary, who had never known a man, to be found with child was not only miraculous, it was also rather dangerous in her day and age! Her peers, not to mention the Jewish Sanhedrin, or leaders of the day, might not have understood that she was impregnated through what today might be call artificial insemination. Scripture tells us in Matthew 1:18 that 'before they came together ( speaking here of Joseph & Mary ), she was found with child of the Holy Spirit'. Now, without going into the intricacies of how a normal child is conceived in the womb, it would suffice to say that what was begotten of this Blessed Union was Immaculate indeed!
The Birth of Jesus was the Reality of the Promise which was introduced back in Genesis 3:15 ( quote ), the Seed of the Woman who would crush the head of the serpent! As the Son of Man, He lived a Life for us to follow, and as the Son of God, He gave us Life!
The Prophecy of Zechariah came in the midst of the Babylonian Captivity, and spoke of the Coming Glory of Yahweh's Temple. We see this, in verse 12 of chapter 1; 'Then the Angel of the Lord answered and said, “O Lord of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which You were angry these seventy years?”' Reading through Zechariah's prophecy, we find several mentions of a Coming 'BRANCH'. Of 'My Servant', says Yahweh, 'From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord; Yes, He shall build the temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.' Again, in chapter 8, verse 3, we read, 'Thus says the Lord: ‘I will return to Zion, and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth, the Mountain of the Lord of hosts, the Holy Mountain.' Yet again, and finally, in verses 7 through 10 of the same chapter, 'Behold, I will save My people from the land of the east and from the land of the west; I will bring them back, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. They shall be My people and I will be their God, in truth and righteousness’, and so, 'Let your hands be strong, you who have been hearing in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, who spoke in the day the foundation was laid for the house of the Lord of hosts, that the temple might be built. For before these days there were no wages for man nor any hire for beast; no peace from the enemy for whoever went out or came in; for I set all men, everyone, against his neighbor'!
The Promise of the Presence was a Hope that Israel had clung to since Her conception! She had struggled with Her innate desires for millennia and had finally come to birth; the Time of the Promised Messiah had finally come, when She would be freed from Her bondage and would finally, once and for all, play Host to the Spirit of Yahweh! She would be the Temple 'made without hands' ( Daniel 2:45, John 2:19 )!
As we come to the time when all things would be fulfilled, we find a young woman of the House of Israel, promised in a betrothal contract, to a just man, one of the House of David. That Mary was a virgin is clear, for Scripture tells us that she had not yet been intimate with a man ( verse 34 of Luke 1 ). The question of why Mary had to be a maiden is still a matter of some controversy in the modern Church. Much of the misunderstanding and disharmony comes from an individualistic, non-covenantal viewpoint, one which has plagued the Church for centuries, and maybe even millenia!
Individualism removes Jesus from the context of History & relegates Him to the realm of the individual, rather than seeing Him as He truly was, the Savior of His Covenant People!
Our Lord had prophesied, through Isaiah ( chapter 7, verse 14 ) that 'the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son'. The mother of our Lord, as the representative Virgin of Israel, must be immaculate, or undefiled, because Israel according to the flesh had become metaphorically defiled, having 'gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot' ( Jeremiah 2:20, 3:6 ),
God chose Mary, because as a virtuous young woman, and who had not known a man, she was therefore metaphorically representative of the Israel of God, as opposed to Israel according to the flesh, who had been committing spiritual adultery & harlotry against the Lord their God.
When Jesus was born of first conceived in Mary’s womb, Heaven Itself entered into Earth, or metaphorically, the Land! This Intersection brought to Reality the Promise of the Presence that can be seen throughout the Scriptures. Jesus, as Man on the Land, was also He who dwelt in the Heavens, so when these two were brought together, the New Temple that Jesus spoke of in John 2:19-21, was formed!
In our Call to Worship, David, as King of Israel. prayed not just for himself, but for Israel as a whole. As a prophet and the representative Head of Israel, David knew that his own sin, and thus his own need for redemption & renewal, although very real for him as an individual, was merely a picture of the greater need for the Redemption & Renewal of his people. As with many of the prophets, his own life events and personal grievances were significant of a greater spiritual reality: Israel had committed spiritual adultery against Yahweh, and thus, David's own sin signified the greater and more deep-seated sin of his people!
David was a type of Christ, and perhaps the greatest, being, as we read in Acts 13:22, a Man after God's own heart! As Jesus would later take upon Himself the Sin of His People Israel, bearing 'our sins in His own body on the tree' ( I Peter 2:24 ), so David himself, in his adulterous relations with Bathsheba, pictured for his people the spiritual adultery for which they themselves would be in danger of being cut off from the Presence of Yahweh and from the House ( or Temple ) of Israel!
Just prior to His promise of a New Covenant ( 31:31-34 ), the prophet Jeremiah recorded this Promise from Yahweh ( 30:8 & 9 ), '‘For it shall come to pass in that day,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘That I will break his yoke from your neck, and will burst your bonds; foreigners shall no more enslave them. But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.' It is common knowledge & understanding ( among most, anyway ) that this David ( which, BTW, means 'Beloved' ) is none other than He who would later be born of the Virgin, as Isaiah had prophesied some time previously.
Joseph, whose name means 'God will increase’, was of the direct lineage of David, and therefore, Jesus could legitimately take His seat as the True King of Israel! Mary, as we read in Luke 3:23-38, traced her line of descent through another of David's sons, not through his firstborn, Solomon, whose name means 'Peace'. Nathan, this other son, whose name means ‘Gift’, together with his brother’s name, revealed beforehand that the Promised Messiah would be ‘The Gift of Peace’!
The Revelation of Jesus as the Christ was not only THE defining Event in History, one which turned the world upside down ( or actually, restored it to rights ): it was not simply the Greatest Miracle, or Story Ever Told, it was in fact the Intersection of Heaven & Earth, the entrance, finally & fully, of the Presence of our Heavenly Father into His Creation!
The Marriage of Heaven & Earth was the End from the Beginning! From the Creation in Genesis to the New Creation in Revelation; The History of Israel was one of Creation, De-Creation, and Re-Creation, or, in other words, as we read in the Song of Solomon, ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again and marries her’!
As the Offspring of this Holy Marriage, let us live our Lives with the Grace we have been given, in His Presence, and facing each obstacle with His Strength; let us be the Over-comers that we are!
Let us honor our mothers, not this Day only, but every day, knowing that it is through them that we have been blessed with Life!
What a Conception!