Thursday, January 8, 2015

“Humbled Couple” (Matthew 1:18-19)

S-1461 2MIA/3B 12/10/2014 Hymns: (O) #274; (S) 114; (C) #61

Texts: Psalm 24:1-10; Isaiah 7:10-14; Matthew 1:18-25

Theme: “Humbled Couple” (Matthew 1:18-19)

Question: “Have you ever heard of unbelievable news?” 2nd in sermon series on: “Humility in the Holy Land”

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia. The text for 2nd Midweek in Advent is from the Gospel Lesson: Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly (Matthew 1:18-19).

Beloved and beautiful children of the heavenly Father, last week we traveled throughout all of the Holy Land. Tonight, our travel draws us to a village in the northern part of Galilee—Nazareth. 2100 years ago in this back wood village lived a young lady a maiden called Mary and a young soon-to-be husband named Joseph. To them the angel of the Lord was sent with news that turned their lives upside down and caused chaos, confusion and heartache. Both received news that shocked them and caused them to wonder about the plans of God to redeem mankind.

The news given to this young lady was a hard pill to swallow. Here is what she heard in her room that night long ago when the angel Gabriel visited her. “…Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And 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 bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to 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” (Luke 1:28b-33). What a shocking announcement! What a scandalous episode! This unmarried lady will become pregnant and give birth to a son.

Gabriel called her “O Favored one…” Really! How can a young lady in a backwoods village in Nazareth be favored when she will become the laughing stock of the whole community? Come closer and walk with me through this village; see and hear of the pain in her heart and in her eyes as she walks down the streets.

Her heart is churning; her emotions are messed up, she is heavy-laden as she walks ever so slowly to tell her would-be-future husband—Joseph that she is now with child. Can you see his face? Can you see the steam coming out of his nostrils? Can you see the anger building up? This news filled him with anguish and pain. This news shattered his hopes and dreams of the future wife he wanted to marry. PAUSE.

We might think it was easy for Mary and Joseph to receive this news, but it wasn’t. This couple had to deal with much pain though Scripture says favored by God. But what kind of favor is this? People are laughing, ridiculing, pointing fingers, and looking at her with those suspicious eyes. Every person is gawking at her as she brings her water jar to the well to fill it up. The village ladies stand around and whisper behind her back. The gossip is flowing throughout the fields, carpenter shops, in the market place and in the synagogue. Even her mom and dad were suspicious of what she said. Can you see the tug on her heart strings?

But this pain is not hers alone. Let us go to the other side of the village and see Joseph. Do you see him pacing the floor, shaking his head, scratching his hair, pulling on his beard and asking how can she do this? How can she betray me? How could she ruin my life? I had hoped she would be the mother of my children and my-life-long partner.

Into the midst of this confused couple that the angel comes. He comes with the assurance that this is the work of God. God’s Spirit will come upon Mary and she will give birth to the Most High God. She will be the virgin Isaiah spoke about saying, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This couple was chosen by God to be the humble couple who will care for the God who would become man. They were chosen to be the care givers, providers and protectors to the infant Jesus as He enters our world to save it from the wrath of God. They were chosen to teach Him how to live in this world and raise Him up in the fear of God—God of their father’s Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

By the grace and mercy of God Joseph and Mary humbled themselves to be servants of the most high God. They permitted themselves to endure all sorts of evil to fulfill God’s promise—in sending His only begotten Son—Jesus into our world. They humbled themselves to suffer every accusation, every gossip, and every injustice to do what God has called them to do.

The life of the humble couple wasn’t easy though they were favored by God. Yet they held on to the sure and certain hope given to them through the Word of the angel. The Word of God was and is the anchor that held them together as they faced the barrage of dishonor and shame. PAUSE.

Likewise, we, children of God the favored ones, struggle to live the perfect life in this inhospitable world. We are at times called fools for Jesus because we live our lives different than the world. We struggle just like this humble couple because we have to listen to the gossip, endure the evil the world throws at us and put up with every injustice. As the children of God living in this broken world we are called fools because we follow the Word and live by the Word.

The world might call us fools. But we are NOT!!! We are God’s own and dear children. John the Apostle put it this way: See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1). Indeed, we are the children of the heavenly Father. By grace through faith we have received the adoption through the waters of Baptism. Some people call us fools because we baptize infants. Some people call us fools because we dine at His altar receiving His body and blood. Some people call us fools because we dedicate time to be in His house, give of our first-fruit gifts to serve Him and His people; and some call us fools for trusting in an eternal paradise. In the world’s eyes we might be fools, but not in God’s eyes.

We know that fact well. That is why Advent helps us to focus on the One who was indeed favored by God our Savior—the One Isaiah spoke about 2700 years ago. That is why Advent helps us to concentrate on the One the Angel told Mary about 2100 years ago. That is why Advent encourages us to remain steadfast in our hope and trust in His Word—the Word made flesh and tented among us in Bethlehem’s manger.

If you think that life for the humble couple was difficult! If you think our lives as Christians is difficult! Then know the truth that it is. However, their lives and ours are not as bad as what happened to the true Favored Son of the Father. The Babe of Bethlehem had to endure much worse. While an infant his parents had to flee to Egypt. As He grew up He was laughed at by many and during His crucifixion became the laughing stock of those who deride Him, spit on Him, shamed Him and beat Him to the point of death. Yet He endured it so that He can be their Savior and ours.

On this holy night, may our hearts be filled with the joy of knowing that God uses us in spite of us so that in humility we can serve Him and bring glory to His holy name and cause others to learn more about the Savior who came to earth to save them through His death and resurrection.

What a blessing this humble couple were and are to the world! What a blessing you as humble servants are to the world. But above all, what grace and mercy we receive from the humble servant—Jesus Christ—the Babe of Bethlehem who gave us eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen.

Now the peace of God…


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