From the Pastor’s Study – June 23rd, 2017

Sunday worship

At the morning service I preached on what’s sometimes called the Annunciation, Gabriel’s declaration to the virgin Mary that she would conceive in her womb the Lord Jesus (Luke 1:26-38). This is one of the great passages of Luke, and indeed of all of Scripture. A young girl (Mary may have been as young as 12 or 13) learns from an archangel that she will be the mother of the Christ and the Son of God. How wonderful is that?!

By causing Mary to conceive the baby Jesus, God fulfilled his promise to Israel to raise up for them a descendant of David who would reign over God’s people forever (2 Samuel 7:8-16). This was the promise of the Messiah, or the Christ. For centuries the people of God waited for his coming and for the salvation he would bring. The wait was over; the baby conceived by the Holy Spirit in Mary’s womb was the long-promised Savior. Let this remind us that God keeps his promises. Just as he was faithful to send His Son into the world according to his Word, so he will keep every promise he makes to you in the Scriptures.

In the incarnation of Christ in the womb of Mary, God also demonstrated his power. How can a virgin conceive a child? We all know this is impossible. But as Gabriel told Mary, “… nothing will be impossible with God” (v.37). And the virginal conception of Jesus is only a small part of the miracle. The far greater wonder is that in Jesus, God himself became man (John 1:14). This is the miracle of miracles, the most impossible thing of all. But if God can do that, he can do all the other “impossible” things he does for us. He can forgive our sins, bring us from spiritual death to spiritual life, enable us to overcome sin, and give us grace to walk faithfully before him in this world. It is by the grace and power of God we are saved, and it is by his grace and power we can lived as a redeemed people. Because God does the impossible, we can say with the Apostle Paul, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

When Mary conceived the baby Jesus in her womb, God advanced his purpose. That is, God gave Christ to Mary and to the world as a Savior from sin and death. This was God’s plan for Jesus: not a political salvation for national Israel, but a spiritual salvation for God’s people throughout the world. Indeed, he was called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). And God carried out his plan of salvation through Jesus in a way that brought him all the glory. He chose an obscure girl, Mary, in an unheard-of place, Nazareth, to conceive and bear the Lord of Glory, and the Savior of the world.

Just as Jesus was conceived purely by the work and activity of the Spirit of God, so our salvation from sin is entirely the work of the Father, Son, and Spirit. To God be the glory!

At the evening service we considered the subject of baptism as we looked at Lord’s Day 26 of the Heidelberg Catechism.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Pastor Scott