This weekend many families will gather around the family Bible and Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, or whomever gets the honor of reading the Christmas story from Luke 2, will read of that amazing night in Bethlehem. As I said yesterday I’ve written an article that gives insight on why the shepherds living out in the fields were used as the first witnesses of the birth of Christ.
This morning I want us to go back nine months from the manger scene, which means we need to go back one chapter in Luke to the little city of Nazareth where the great archangel Gabriel visited a very blessed and yet insignificant young woman named Mary:
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.’ Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.’ Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” (Luke 1:26-38)
In a word, young Mary was perplexed by the appearance of an angel and his words. Even more confusing was the news that she was going to give birth to baby, even though she was a virgin. Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that through her the Messiah would finally come to earth. Mary said yes Lord, “Let it be to me according to your word.”
And then she must have sat for at least a moment and thought, “My goodness, what just happened?!” And then she must have remembered what Gabriel had said about his cousin Elizabeth. She made haste to Elizabeth’s house in some unnamed city in Judah. Elizabeth, through the Holy Spirit, immediately knew that her young cousin was carrying the Messiah. And then Mary broke out in spontaneous, Holy Spirit inspired, singing:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)
The Greek transliterated to “magnifies” is megalyno and it means “to glorify, regard highly, praise, exalt; to hold in high honor.” Mary wanted to give the highest honor and praise to God her Savior because He “has done great things for me.”
Think back nine months ago, around March 25; was your soul magnifying the Lord because He had done great things for you? Or was the thought of Baby Jesus the farthest thing from your mind? Four years ago Christmas Eve I wrote a devotional titled “An Invasion from Heaven” and said that heaven had come to earth.
Christmas is much more than the virgin birth, the shepherds lying in the field, a babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, presents and family and wonderful fellowship. All those are heavenly blessings indeed.
But this Christmas weekend, I pray that my soul will magnify the Lord because He has done great things for me. He has saved me because He left His throne and came to earth to pay the price for my sin.
The angel of the Lord brought “good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” What were those good tidings?
A Savior had been born. Christ the Lord, the long awaited for Messiah had finally come. And the shepherds could not wait to see the Baby Jesus nor could they keep the splendid news to themselves.
Will you? When you are among family and friends this weekend, those you know have not received the greatest Christmas gift ever, will you keep the good tidings of great joy to yourself?
Or like the socially-scorned shepherds, will you care not who you are or what others will say about you, and share the good news, the precious gospel of Jesus Christ to those you love?
The value of a gift is not the price; it is the personal cost to you. A rich man buying his son a new car for Christmas is no great sacrifice.
A frightened brother telling his lost sister about Jesus on Christmas morning, knowing he will upset her, and yet takes the chance, now that is a valuable gift. A scared niece telling her beloved but lost aunt about Jesus is worth more than anything she could otherwise give. A terrified son once again trying to tell his angry father about how the Heavenly Father sent His only begotten Son to earth to save his lost soul, that is sharing good tidings of great joy.
Do you want your soul to magnify the Lord this Christmas because He has done great things for you? Then share those great things with someone who knows not personally of what you speak.
Karen and I want to wish all of you a Very Blessed and Merry Christmas. The Lord willing, we will finish up Philippians 4 beginning next Tuesday.
Remember, even though it’s Christmas on Sunday morning, especially because it is, please remember to go to church.
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Copyright © 2011 David Jeffers