Sermon Notes | The Nativity Experience Part 1
Jesus has always existed. It is hard for us to wrap our heads around that.
Genesis says “in the beginning”. That simply means the beginning of the world, not the beginning of God. We don’t know when the world started in relation to God because we have no reference for God beginning. It’s not like we would say, “a thousand years after God started, the world began.” God has no beginning or stopping. He always is.
John said it clearly at the start of his gospel when he said, “In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. When God created the world he spoke things and the Word created all things.
God said, “Let there be light…”
God said, “Let the waters be gathered…”
God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass…”
As God spoke, His Word created. Think about that power. We might think we create, however, we only artistically combine. God is able to start with zero substance, speak His Word, and instantly worlds are created. Humans have creative tendency because we are made in His image, however, we are only able to take elements that God created and try to arrange them in a productive or beautiful way.
John went on to say, “God created everything through the Word, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.”
God knows that at some point His Word will become a person. How does the Word of God that creates worlds become a person? Something this spectacular could descend directly from the clouds as an apparition. Someone this regal would be born to the most influential king of the world. Someone this distinct should arrive as a fully-grown man ready to take charge. Ready to judge the world and set things in order.
Many millennia had passed since creation. Millions of people came and went. The earth suffered greatly from different natural disasters. God related to humans. He displayed his love and justice to them from an indefinite distance. If certain men went through certain procedures at certain times of the year, then they would be eligible to connect with Him.
After all, if lowly humanity was to come in contact with the brilliance of a light that speaks seas, mountains, and animals into existence it should be careful, reverent, and submissive.
So people worshipped God and God provided for His people. However, a cycle began very early. God provided, people were blessed, people forgot God and fell into rebellion against God. This happened over and over and over and over. God provided a way. People trusted the way and were blessed. Then, people were distracted with life and their trust was put in the world and they fell away from God.
When God showed up it would be in a burning bush that never burned up. A fire in the sky or food that fell from the sky at just the right time. God separated a sea and allowed them to walk on dry land. God gave trumpets super powers to crush the walls of a mighty city. He guided a rock from a shepherd’s sling to the exact spot on a giant so that he would be defeated. God sent fire from the sky that burned up the water soaked altar of a false god. The Word that created the world continued to make himself known.
So, if this Power. This Light. This Word of God was to transform itself into a person that walked on the earth it created…how would that happen?
After all these signs and wonders and creativity and power… After God had loved man and man had forgotten God… there was about 400 years of silence from God.
Then, the Word in His infinite wisdom, when the world’s position was in just the right spot. The governments of the world, the transportation systems, and the human climate were in place.
Instead of directly appearing out of the sky like the Terminator to set things straight.
Instead of being born to the palace of the Roman Caesar
Instead… The Word… peeks in on Mary tending to the family’s farm in Nazareth.
The Word has an Angel go a girl on the other side of the tracks. Mary, a commoner. Young. Virgin. Unknown by the world. No authority. No influence even in Nazareth. Mary didn’t come from the bad side of town. She came from the bad town. (nothing good comes from Nazareth).
Though, she was young and a virgin, she was engaged to a young carpenter, named Joseph. They had a quiet future ahead of them. Marriage, kids, family life in peaceful Nazareth. Now everything has changed.
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.”
Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Mary was compelled to go visit Elizabeth. If Elizabeth was indeed pregnant then maybe she wasn’t just dreaming. Maybe she really was pregnant without being with a man.
Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed. Why am I so honored, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When I heard your greeting, the baby in my womb jumped for joy. You are blessed because you believed that the Lord would do what he said.”
This last phrase of Elizabeth sums up the issue that all of humanity has struggled with since the garden of Eden. Do you trust God?
Not trusting God created the cycle of struggle for thousands of years.
Lack of Trust = failure, brokenness, sin.
Trust = God is with us.
Trusting God seems to be the gate.
Wow! The Word, the Creative Light entering the world as a human hinged on the heart of an unknown virgin from Nazareth. Will she trust what God said?
When you think of the track record of humanity believing and living in trust of God, that was so bold of God. It could have gone wrong so many ways.
God provided an Angel for Mary that gave her a warning and a word. However, the angel also gave her a confidant. She was provided a Friend (Elizabeth). Another human confirmed and walked with her through the unbelievable proposition from God.
God has a plan, offers it to humans, gives us a choice, gives us resources to handle it.
Do we trust him?
Look at Mary’s fiancé. Joseph. Wow. He was put in a tough predicament. In 2013, even in our secular society, we don’t look favorably on those who have affairs. In Mary’s culture, women were stoned for cheating. Joseph gets the word that his wife is pregnant and he knows they haven’t been together. He is faced with the brutal choice of taking her word (from the angel) or believing common sense. She cheated. Joseph comes to the conclusion that she cheated on him.
There is one phrase in the gospel of Matthew that speaks so deeply of Joseph.
It says, “…then Joseph, being a just man.” He was a good man. He must be so broken hearted that his future wife has cheated on him. He was devastated, but he didn’t allow his misfortune to sway his character. The scripture says that he decided to quietly end things with Mary and not make a big deal about it.
Then, God provides an angel for him too.
“Joseph, son of David,” the angel said, “do not be afraid (trust) to take Mary as your wife. For the child within her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
When Joseph woke up, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded and took Mary as his wife. But he did not have sexual relations with her until her son was born. And Joseph named him Jesus.
This Story beautifully depicts an eternal God with supernatural powers that creates man with His Word. When man separates himself from God, the Word becomes man.
Next week, we will talk about exactly how that happened in Bethlehem. We have some really good parts to cover next week.
As you sit and listen to the story of God, he begins to work on your heart. The Spirit of creativity, the Word of God begins to speak to you. What would happen if we listened to that same voice and trusted what we heard?
Sometimes we make it too complicated. We try too hard to work through the logic. We want to reason ourselves into a comfortable understanding. However, when we hear from God, the message is often speaking a different word than what we are used to hearing.
Remember, His word speaks to nothing and makes it something.
His Word creates worlds. What part of your world is broken and needing a savior?