Advent4b

Preached: December 18, 2011

This Baby Reigns for You
Luke 1:26-38

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts for the coming of our King, Jesus Christ, is Luke 1.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth to a virgin, betrothed to a man named Joseph, from the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

The angel entered and said to her, “Greetings, you who have been shown grace. The Lord is with you.” She was disturbed by his message and began wondering what kind of greeting this might be.

The angel said to her, “Stop being afraid, Mary, for you have found grace with God. Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great. He will be called the Son of the Most High. God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his kingdom.”

Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I have not been with a man?”

The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One given birth will be called the Son of God. Look! Your relative Elizabeth -- even she has conceived a son in her old age. She, who was called barren, is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary said, “Yes, I’m the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me just as you’ve said.” And the angel left her. (Luke 1:26-38).

This is the word of our Lord.

Many young girls dream of being a mommy someday. When a couple finally gets the good news that they’ll be parents, how happy they are! But pregnancy was not on Mary’s mind. She had never been with a man in that way. Yes, she and Joseph had already made their public vows to be husband and wife. But he had not yet taken her home as his wife. Until then how could there be a pregnancy?

How surprising the news from the angel Gabriel! Is it any wonder that Mary asked how this was going to come about? Should Joseph take her home as his wife at once to make it possible? Was that how this would happen? This wasn’t a question from unbelief or doubt but from a desire to do what God wanted.

Now God had a most astounding miracle in mind for bringing his Son into the world. He wouldn’t simply be a special child, born to a couple in their old age, like Isaac or John the Baptist. He would come in a way that had never happened before and would never happen again. He would be born from a virgin, a biological impossibility -- no human father. But with God all things are possible. And in this most astounding way, he demonstrated that this baby is none other than God in the flesh. The angel explains, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35 NIV1984). And so we confess in the Creed that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

We prepare to marvel at that miracle again this Christmas. Although our culture reduces it just a darling story of a poor baby laid in a warm manger, never forget the miracle. This baby is our God, born of a virgin. What a great and mighty wonder! Ponder this wonder each Christmas.

Why did our God come in the flesh? Why did the Father send his Son into this world? Why was Jesus born? The angel’s words to Mary give us the answer. He was born to be our King. This baby reigns for you. That’s the theme. He reigns for you, as foretold of old. He reigns for you, since he’s the Conqueror of all. Those are the two parts.

A. As foretold of old

A millennium earlier, the Lord had taken David from tending sheep and eventually made him king over his people Israel. But no king from David’s family line had sat on the throne for centuries. His descendants were just commoners, like Mary and Joseph. But listen to what the angel tells Mary about her child: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” (Luke 1:32 NIV1984).

Recall the prophecies of old that foretold this. In the First Lesson (2 Samuel 7:8-16) today, you heard the words the Lord God gave the prophet Nathan to speak to King David. An offspring from his own body would reign forever. What a wonder! Jesus, our God, became flesh born from the physical and legal family line of King David. He who created David was born from David. Although he’s David’s son, yet David calls him “my Lord” (Psalm 110:1) in the Psalms. For this Baby is the King of kings who reigns for us.

The prophets continued proclaiming this good news. Isaiah writes, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit” (Isaiah 11:1 NIV1984). Jesse was King David’s father. The stump of Jesse pictures how David’s royal family tree had been cut down, leaving only stumps of nobodies likes Mary and Joseph. But from the dead stump came a Shoot, a Branch bearing fruit, life-giving fruit. This Baby reigns for you, to bring you life with God, as foretold of old.

The prophet Micah foretold how just as David came from the small town of Bethlehem, so also would his greater son, whose origins are from eternity. “But you, Bethlehem, Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old from ancient times” (Micah 5:2 NIV1984). What a wonder! This baby whose life appears to be just beginning -- this baby is the eternal One, who always was and is and will be. He is ever with the Father from eternity to eternity. This baby reigns for you forever, as foretold of old.

The prophet Jeremiah writes, “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness’ ” (Jeremiah 23:5, 6 NIV1984). Jesus reigns as your righteousness. Only his righteousness saves -- only his righteousness that’s freely credited to you and received by you through faith alone. This righteous Baby reigns for you to credit you with his righteousness, as foretold of old.

Through the prophet Ezekiel the Lord says, “I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David will be a prince among them. I the Lord have spoken” (Ezekiel 34:23, 24 NIV1984). Jesus reigns as your Shepherd. He tends you, his flock, his sheep and lambs. He is the Shepherd-King. This Baby reigns to shepherd you, just as foretold.

These and many other prophecies from the Scriptures came to fulfillment in that miracle the Holy Spirit worked in Mary’s womb. The Holy One born from her is God’s Son and David’s Son. Nothing is impossible with God. So dear friends, dear Christians, take him at his word. See how he kept his promises of old made through the prophets. Could any of them have fully guessed how the Lord would do it all? Yet although they couldn’t figure it all out, they cherished his words of promise. They searched them diligently to learn what they could. They held on to them firmly in faith and hope. And look at Mary herself. “I am the Lord’s servant … May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38 NIV1984). Such faith, taking God at his Word and submitting to his will! I am his servant, his slave.

With that same faith, dear friends, treasure the words of your Lord and King. Search the Scriptures, even though there may be much we do not fully understand. If anything, isn’t that a reason to search them all the more? And like Mary submit in humble faith to what the Lord says even when it contradicts our reason or what we think we might want. Hold on to the Lord’s promises in faith and hope.

Hold on to his promise that this Baby reigns for you. He reigns as the Conqueror of all.

B. As the Conqueror of all

The angel said to Mary, “{H}e will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:33 NIV1984). He reigns forever, kingdom without end, because he conquers all his enemies. None can stop him.

The very first promise of the Savior in Genesis 3 makes that clear. The offspring or seed of the woman would crush Satan’s head, the archenemy who led the whole world into sin. Jesus conquered Satan. So we see that he comes not as an earthly king to wield power through worldly governments but as our heavenly King who delivers us from the spiritual forces of evil and prepares us to live in the glory of his splendor when this present earth is destroyed.

The prophet Isaiah spoke about this spiritual kingdom or government of our Savior, Jesus Christ. He writes about the Christ-child, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6, 7 NIV1984). This baby reigns for you. He governs all for you. He reigns as the Conqueror of all so that you may have peace -- real, true, divine peace. He is the Prince of peace

And know, dear friends, that these words are for you. For you see when the prophets talk about spiritual blessings for the house of Jacob or Israel, they aren’t talking about the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the spiritual descendants. The Apostle Paul makes that clear when he writes, “Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham” (Galatians 3:7 NIV1984). Believe that this baby reigns for you, dear friend, that he has conquered all to bring you peace. For through faith in Jesus, you are a child of Abraham. You are from the house of Jacob. You are Israel. David reigns as your King.

Jesus has conquered all your enemies. So he reigns forever, as the angel says here. He has conquered sin, Satan, and death for you. In Jesus, sin’s guilt no longer condemn you, for Jesus has taken your sin away, nailing it to the cross. In Jesus, Satan can no longer accuse you, because Jesus is your Advocate who presents his own righteousness as your defense. In Jesus, you can face death with the confidence that he is with you to lead you as his sheep even through the darkest valley to your Father’s home. He has gone through death ahead of you and returned in victory. He gives you his Easter victory. What peace we have from the Prince of peace! This baby reigns for you. He’s conquered all to bring you his peace.

So dear friends, again this Christmas ponder that great and mighty wonder. This Baby is your God and Lord. He is your King as foretold of old. He is your King who has conquered all to bring you peace with God. This baby reigns for you.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Pastor Gregg Bitter

St. John's Evangelical Lutheran Church
859 5th Street
Hancock, MN 56244
(320) 392-5313

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