Monthly Archives: December 2015

Swaddling Cloths Become a Servant’s Towel

Swaddling Clothes Become a Servant?s Towel by Rick Burdette 
Luke 2:6-2:7 
THEN AND NOW – Swaddling Clothes Become a Servant’s Towel

Luke 2:6-7(pg. 715) December 27, 2015
Introduction:
Have you ever heard the saying “Clothes make the man?” or “Dress for success?” or “She’s decked out to the nines!” It comes from a Robert Burns poem which means… “dressed to perfection!”
Jimmy and I had a conversation the other day…“Jimmy’s my future son-in law this coming July…The conversation followed Kari and Karissa getting ready for a Christmas party…both had put on at least 3 different outfits before the event…Jimmy looked at me and said, “How many outfits did you put on?” I said “one.” “I chose a brown shirt with a collar.” We both laughed and said, “but they’re worth the wait huh?”
Let me show you a very scientific pie chart
SHOW PIE CHART PIC
Maybe the reason for this time difference is found in our closets.
SHOW PICUTRE OF MEN VS. WOMEN CLOSETS
I’m not saying that clothes aren’t important, but in most cases they hold a significantly different priority to men and women…about what they say about who we are…and about how much we care about what others see.
If by some miracle I have a conversation with Bobby, Brian or Tony about what they’re going to wear to an event it would go like this… “You wearin’ a T-shirt and Jeans…yeah!…cool…me too!”
But the same conversations between two women, I’m going to bet would be radically different…it would involve color…shoes…style…belts…purses…possibly makeup…accessories…and an absolute commitment that it wouldn’t be the same thing.
Uniforms make it easy for us all…Whether it’s in schools…or when required by a person’s job…in the military…the medical field…the police or firemen….We see the uniform and we instantly know a lot about that person.
Luke’s gospel tells us after Mary gave birth to Jesus “she wrapped him in cloths.” His first clothes are “swaddling cloths.”
In fact we learn that when the angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shines around them the angel says:
“Do not be afraid (probably not so easy), I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord.” 
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths…and laying in a manger.”
Remember signs are meant to give information about future events…signs let you know about what’s coming…and the angel specifically says one of these signs that identifies the Savior is “You’ll find Him wrapped in cloths.” Why tightly wrapped cloths…why are swaddling cloths so important?
I. LAMBS MEANT FOR SACRIFICE COULD HAVE NO BLEMISH 
Micah 4:8 says “As for you, watch tower of the flock, stronghold of Daughter Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you…KINGSHIP will come to daughter Jerusalem.”
The watchtower of the flock was Migdal-Eder (Tower of the Flock) and it’s located about 5 miles outside of Bethlehem…It’s where shepherds tended their flocks…The newborn lambs that were set apart for temple sacrifices were bound with strips of cloth and laid in mangers so they would not be trampled or bruised, because they could not be blemished.
I doubt sincerely that this sign was lost on these shepherds… “who came to Bethlehem to see this thing that had happened, which the Lord had told them about.” (Luke 2:15)
No wonder “all who heard it were amazed, concerning what had been told them about this child by the shepherds.” (v. 18)
Fast forward to Jesus’ burial…The Lamb of God has died on a cross taking away the sins of mankind…The sins of all the people His sinless body has been beaten…His blood has poured out from His hands, feet, head and side.
Isaiah’s prophecy has come true.
ISAIAH 53:4-9 (p. 511)
We are all wayward, rebellious sheep…He was led as an obedient lamb to slaughter, we protest our goodness…He is silent…He died for our transgressions and is put in a rich man’s grave…Listen:
MATTHEW 27:57-60 (p. 698)
By the way…all this happens during Passover…remember…where the blood of a perfect Lamb is applied to a home for protection of the death angel while Israel was in slavery in Egypt.
Shepherds knew about perfect lambs’ and sacrifice.
No wonder they were the first visited by God…and given a “sign” wrapped in swaddling clothes at His birth…and wrapped in swaddling cloths at His burial.
From the very beginning we learn a great deal about God’s plan from the cloths that became a baby’s clothes…but let me take you to another cloth that says just as much about Jesus’ heart.
II. THE HUMILITY OF THE TOWEL
When Jesus died he only had one thing on Him of physical value. Scripture tells us “when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into 4 shares, one for each of them…with the undergarment remaining, the garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom.
The soldiers made a decision not to tear it, they divide to cast lots to see who gets it (John 19:23-24 p. 756)
Even here, prophecy is being fulfilled concerning Jesus’ clothes…King David wrote in Psalms 22:18, “They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment.”
Had Mary made Him that garment? Had one of the sisters from Bethany? One thing worth gambling for…a robe…His under garment…How humble is that? We spend a great deal of our life trying to accumulate things…And Jesus died with only 1 thing worth the soldiers trouble.
A handmade woven garment…I’ll bet you (no pun intended) that the person who gave it to Him was more important than the possession itself!
Powerful to think it was probably this very some set of clothes that shone with the glory of God on the Mountain one day…Right after He told His disciples…“whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me…whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.” (Matt. 16:24-25)
Listen to what follows:
MATTHEW 17:1-9 (p. 687)
Peter, James & John get to see Jesus in His glory…His face shone like the sun. His clothes become as white as light…He talks with the great law giver…and the greatest prophet…Moses…and Elijah…and the Father speaks from Heaven and then He says, “Don’t talk about this until you see the Son of Man raised from the dead.”
It would be those same garments He would remove in the upper room to perform one of the greatest demonstrations of His humble heart…it also would involve a cloth…This towel would be even more than a sign…it would be a “challenge” for the 12 disciples and each of us who would deny ourselves, take up our cross…and follow Him. 
JOHN 13:1-5 (p. 751)
Once again Jesus is wrapped in a cloth…only this time it’s a servant’s towel.
John tells us He knows it’s time for Him to die…to go back home…but He also tells us how much He loved them…right up until the end.
And then John records how Jesus showed them His love…love is a verb not a noun!
At the last supper Jesus shocks His disciples by washing their feet…It’s a humbling job that needed to be done…a job no one else wanted to lower themselves to do…after it’s over He explains why it’s so important.
“So if I your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet…for I have given you an example that you should do just as I have done for you…I assure you: A slave is not greater than his master, and a messenger is not greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:14-16)
That night Jesus stripped down and washed dirt from the disciples feet with His own hands…the next day He was stripped down again and those same hands were nailed to a cross in order to wash the sin from their souls…and ours! The dirty towel lay by a basin of water…and the dirt of all sin, covered Jesus as His blood flowed from the cross…and then soaked His grave cloths…which would be left in an empty grave.
This was their Lord and Master…This is our Lord and Master…from the manger to the cross, Mary’s little lamb becomes the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…swaddling baby clothes…becoming a servant’s towel. The savior of the world THEN….AND NOW.
Conclusion:
[Jesus uses two adjectives to describe Himself… “Gentle and Humble,” They are the driving attitudes behind love becoming a verb…I often think…what were the disciples thinking as Jesus washed their feet? Maybe “I wish I had done this instead of Him.” Peter lets us know what he’s thinking…“No way Jesus.” What was Judas thinking…“I know no Messiah would do this!!! I can’t wait to get out of here!”
As he laid the dirty towel aside and got dressed was it quiet as He said, “Do you understand why I did this…I did this to show you an example of how you should treat each other…wash each other’s feet…Now you know what to do…go do it! Become servants who pick up the towel.

One of my favorite writers, Brennan Manning, was waiting to catch a plane in the Atlanta airport. He sat down to have his shoes shined where usually black men shine white men’s shoes. An elderly black man began to shine Brennan Manning’s shoes and while he was doing so, the Spirit of God spoke to Brennan Manning’s heart.
When the black man had finished, Brennan Manning paid him and gave him a generous tip. But he didn’t stop there. Looking at the elderly man who had just shined his shoes, he said, “Now, sir, you sit down in the chair because I want to shine your shoes.” “You’re going to do what?” the elderly man said. Brennan Manning answered, “I want to shine your shoes. Come on now, sit down, and you teach me how to do it well.” As Brennan Manning began to shine the old man’s shoes, the old man began to weep. He then said, “No white man ever treated me this way.” They parted with a strong hug.
Fred Craddock, in an address to ministers, caught the practical implications of servanthood: “To give my life for Christ appears glorious. To pour myself out for others, to pay the ultimate price of martyrdom, I’ll do it. I’m ready, Lord, to go out in a blaze of glory. We think giving our all to the Lord is like taking a $1000 bill and laying it on a table–here’s my life, Lord. I’m giving it all. But the reality for most of us is that he sends us to the bank and has us cash in the $1000 for quarters. We go through life putting out 25 cents here and 50 cents there. Listen to the neighbor’s kid’s troubles instead of saying, ‘Get lost.’ Go to a committee meeting. Give a cup of cold water to a shaky old man in a nursing home. Usually giving our life to Christ isn’t glorious. It’s done in all those little acts of love, 25 cents at a time. It would be easy to go out in a flash of glory; it’s harder to live the Christian life little by little over the long haul.”
Everyone noticed the basin…everyone saw the towel…But only one picked them up when they saw the need…it was a 25 cent moment that pointed to a priceless example…when swaddling cloths became a servant’s towel

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cross-and-manger

 

Mary’s Little Lamb Becomes the Lamb of God by Rick Burdette

Luke 2:41-2:52

THEN AND NOW – Mary’s Little Lamb Becomes the Lamb of God
Luke 2:41-52 (pg. 716) December 20, 2015

Introduction:

One of the very first verses I remember learning went like this…

“Mary had a little Lamb
His fleece was white as snow
And everywhere that Mary went
The Lamb was sure to go.”

Thankfully I grew up in a Christian home and one of the first songs I learned went…

“Jesus loves me
This I know
For the Bible
Tells me so.”

Little did I know back then, that I would understand the two verses sum up God’s amazing plan for our salvation.

Mary’s little lamb…would live a perfect sinless life. The virgin born child of God would become my sacrificial lamb. This I know…the Bible tells me so.

Marv and Marbeth Rosenthal wrote this version:

Mary had the little Lamb, who lived before His birth;
Self-existent Son of God, from Heaven He came to Earth. (Micah 5:2)

Mary had the little Lamb; see Him in yonder stall—
Virgin-born Son of God, to save man from the Fall. (Isaiah 7:14)

Mary had the little Lamb, obedient Son of God;
Everywhere the Father led, His feet were sure to trod. (John 6:38)

Mary had the little Lamb, crucified on the tree
The rejected Son of God, He died to set men free. (1 Peter 1:18)

Mary had the little Lamb—men placed Him in the grave,
Thinking they were done with Him; to death He was no slave! (Matthew 28:6)

Mary had the little Lamb, ascended now is He;
All work on Earth is ended, our Advocate to be. (Hebrews 4:14-16)

Mary had the little Lamb—mystery to behold!
From the Lamb of Calvary, a Lion will unfold. (Revelation 5:5,6)

When the Day Star comes again, of this be very sure:
It won’t be Lamb-like silence, but with the Lion’s roar. (Psalm 2:12; Revelation 19:11-16)

Marv & Marbeth Rosenthal

From Genesis to Revelation there is a cord that holds it all together…then and now…His name is Jesus….

Let’s start with Jesus’ life here on earth

I. FROM BIRTH TO ADOLESCENCE

Christmas is often referred to as “ADVENT” in many churches.

Advent is defined as “The arrival of a notable person thing or event.”

In my 55 years we’ve celebrated the “advent” of Rock & Roll, computers, smart phones, a new millennium…and dozens of other things.

Christmas at its basis is the celebration of God’s arrival here on earth…It’s wrapped up in Luke 2 verse 6 & 7. “While Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem…the time came for the baby to be born and she wrapped Him in cloths and placed Him in a manger.”

Isaiah prophesied 800 years before Jesus birth to be discovered, up until that time the most current manuscript we had from the Old Testament was copies 800 years after Jesus’ birth…In this discovery in 1946 was an entire manuscript of the book of Isaiah, written 135 years before Jesus’ birth…and it was almost an exact replica.

What did Isaiah prophesy?

ISAIAH 9:2; 6-7 (p. 479)

It’s why when Jesus is 8 days old according to Jewish law Joseph and Mary bring Him to the temple for dedication, they offer a sacrifice to God of two young doves or pigeons.

While there, something amazing happens. An elderly man named Simeon, an Israelite who is waiting for God’s promises to come about, had been impacted by the Holy Spirit to understand He wouldn’t die before He encountered the promised one.

Listen:

LUKE 2:27-35 (p. 716)

Simeon lived in expectation of the Advent of the Savior…the light which would pierce the darkness…Mary’s little lamb.

There is also an 84 year old woman there…she’d been a widow for decades…she spent every day worshipping in God’s house…and as Simeon holds baby Jesus she comes the them and gives thanks to God. She speaks about the child to all who are looking forward to the redemption of Israel…Afterward God’s word says:

LUKE 2:39-40 (p. 716)

The odds of one child fulfilling just 8 of the prophecies we have recorded before His birth are 1 in 10 to the 17th power….Statisticians say that’s like covering the state of TX two feet deep in silver dollars…marking one of them and hiding it…then having someone randomly find it on their first try.

It takes faith to believe in the promised one…but it takes a lot of faith not to as well.

We know very little about Jesus’ childhood….Just that He grew and became strong, filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him.

But we have one story about his adolescence….when He was 12…coincidentally about the time everything starts to change…about the time most of us start to try to “cut the apron strings in rebellion.”

Joseph and Mary are obedient Jews…every year they go to Jerusalem for Passover. (It’s the Jewish remembrance of Thanksgiving…where the blood of the Lamb protects each house it was applied to when they were slaves in Egypt.) But this year after everything is complete…and the whole clan heads home they discovered Jesus isn’t with them…He’s stayed behind…after a day of traveling they discover this fact…they head back…look for him for 3 days…(Can you imagine? Just think of when your child goes missing in the store…and you find him after 5 minutes and multiply it times 1,000).

After 4 days they find him sitting among the teachers in the temple…listening and asking questions…everyone there was amazed at His understanding…when Joseph and Mary see Him they are astonished.

Mary says, “Son…why’d you treat us this way? And cause us to be soooo worried?”

Jesus responds “why were you searching for me, didn’t you know I had to be in Dad’s house?”

But Mary and Joseph didn’t understand what He was talking about.

This isn’t sarcastic disobedience…it’s a revelation of priorities…even at 12.

He goes back to Nazareth…and we know nothing about Jesus from 12 to 30…except He was obedient to His parents…and this…

Mary treasured all these things…and Jesus grew up…in wisdom, He grew physically into a man…and He loved God and people.

Mark Lowry’s most famous song is “Mary did you know?”

The answer…she knew how special Jesus was…but she didn’t know all that it would involve for Jesus to be “Immanuel” God with us and to fulfill His name Jesus…Savior…she didn’t know “the sword that would pierce her own soul as well.”

II. FROM MINISTRY TO THE CROSS

The description Jesus uses more than any other to describe himself is “Son of Man.”

Jesus is referred to as the “Son of Man” 88 times in the New Testament. A first meaning of the phrase “Son of Man” is as a reference to the prophecy of Daniel 7:13-14, “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” The description “Son of Man” was a Messianic title. Jesus is the One who was given dominion and glory and a kingdom. When Jesus used this phrase, He was assigning the Son of Man prophecy to Himself. The Jews of that era would have been intimately familiar with the phrase and to whom it referred. Jesus was proclaiming Himself as the Messiah.

It’s exactly what John is referring to in His gospel… “The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

Jesus’ earthly ministry began very shortly after His baptism…John the Baptist introduces Him…Listen:

JOHN 1:29-36 (p. 739)

Jesus…the prophesied Son of Man…given all glory, dominion and sovereign power…all authority in Heaven and on earth would accomplish the Ancient of Days plan as “The Lamb of God.”

Christmas is the celebration of the Incarnation…the Advent…the arrival of God…in the flesh.

SHOW PIC

But the wood of the manger always pointed toward the wood of the cross. Mary’s little lamb was always destined to be “the Lamb of God” who takes away the sin of the world.

The Son of Man would “be tempted in every way, just as we are”…but because He would sacrificially take my place on a cross… “He did not sin” when He encountered the temptations (Hebrews 4:15).

Peter would write after the resurrection…

1 PETER 1:18-21 (p. 850)

As I conclude this morning…come with me to the cross…Jesus, the perfect Lamb without blemish has the sword pierce His side and it pierces Mary’s heart.

JOHN 19:25-30 (p. 756)

Jesus’ mission was only finished here on earth at the cross…no one took His life…He gave it…and even in the midst of this pain He cared for His mom…He will always be my hero!

After the resurrection Jesus ascends to the right hand of God…even now to make intercession for us…and in the upper room Mary and her other children worship together with the disciples a risen Savior….now she understands…now she understands why it involved her little lamb becoming the Lamb that was slain. Her pierced heart has become filled with thankful worship.

[God’s plan…amazing then…and amazing now…and amazing forever! It’s no wonder in heaven they sing a new song.]

REVELATION 5:9-14 (p. 864)

It’s God’s gift…His plan for everyone to be part of this amazing choir…but like any gift, you have to receive it…open it…put it on and wear it without shame…today I ask you to do just that.

THE MANGER BECOMES THE CROSS

cross-and-manger

 

 

The Manger Becomes the Cross by Rick Burdette

Luke 2:1-2:7

THEN AND NOW – The Manger Becomes the Cross
Luke 2:1-7 (pg. 715) December 6, 2015

Introduction:

An anonymous poet wrote:

“A baby born in Bethlehem
His hands, soft and gently curled
But held within their dimpled grasp
The hope of the entire world.”

Have you ever noticed that when famous people have a baby the world goes a little crazy…when Prince William and Kate Middleton have a child it’s a worldwide celebration that is front page news. When Prince George was born in July of 2013 the press went crazy and when his sister Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana joined him in May of this year…the world cheered…They seem like a beautiful couple…sincerely in love…but I’m pretty sure all the notoriety can be tiresome. I’m sure the continuous pursuit of the paparazzi is draining.

This was not a problem that Mary and Joseph had to endure. The world couldn’t have cared less about the birth of a little Jewish baby to a working class carpenter and his young wife…I promise you that the world was focused on Caesar Augustus…and his census…and more importantly the taxes that went along with it.

Rome and everything under its control was focused on getting home, how much trouble it would be, and how much it was going to cost to do it. Who cares about babies when important stuff like this is happening.

“Everyone went to their own town to register.” Rome didn’t care whether you were pregnant, poor or not…This was not a request…it was an order issued by Caesar…and carried out by governors like Quirinius of Syria.

So Joseph and Mary leave Nazareth in Galilee and head to his hometown of Bethlehem in Judea…it’s a trip of about 90 miles, through rugged terrain….in the weather….it would take them about a week. The Bible doesn’t tell us whether Mary rode or they both walked. Just that they got there. We don’t know how long before the birth they arrived, just “while they were there the time came for the baby to be born.” (v. 7)

Even if they arrived a month early Mary was 33-36 weeks pregnant…during the trip.

[The only time I feared for my life concerning my wife Kari was during the birth of our second son Tyler. She’d been in labor for 20 hours…not much sleep, a lot of discomfort and we were trying breathing exercises to take her mind off of it…and it struck me as funny…(I know, like getting tickled at a funeral) I couldn’t help it and I laughed…she grabbed me by the neck and said, “If you laugh again…I will kill you!” I said, “Yes, honey and didn’t.]

Tyler was fine, so was Kari…and in a clean sterile hospital, Central Baptist…our baby was cared for…and so were we…but

I. FOR THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD THERE WAS NO ROOM

There is no innkeeper turning them away in scripture…we don’t know if Jesus was born in a stable or a cave or animal yard…We don’t know if angels looked on with animals…or even what time of day it was…but we do know…

“There was no guest room available for them.”

Bethlehem was packed with people…everyone had come back home to complete the census. And no one gave up their bed…no one made space for this couple…and the birth of this child…There was no room.

It is hard for me to imagine a more humble birth than this. It’s hard for me to imagine Cyndi and Rodney showing up at the hospital, she is in pain, Rodney with great concern for his wife and Brix…and being turned away…“There’s no room, sorry…figure it out on your own.”

So Joseph and Mary did, she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger.

A manger…an animal feeding trough.

The angel would send the shepherds later telling them:

“Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah the Lord. This will be a sign to you. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:12)

Signs are really, really important. They tell us what’s coming…whether it’s STOP, Road Work, or Dead End.

You see the sign first…and then comes the reality…Signs deliver information about things coming up…If you don’t ignore them.

The Shepherds didn’t…neither should we. The sign was important then and it’s important NOW.

What kind of sign is a manger?

II. IT’S A GOOD NEWS SIGN FOR EVERYONE

The real meaning of Christmas is found in God’s plan to save mankind from their sins…not only does Christmas involve the manger story…it also points to a cross…one wooden object would hold “Mary’s newborn Lamb”…and one wooden object would hold the perfect Lamb of God, dying then to take away the sins of the world. The real meaning of Christmas is the miraculous story of God’s plan to rescue us by becoming one of us…Immanuel!

It’s a story of good news with great joy for EVERYONE!

It probably didn’t seem like “good news” immediately to the shepherds…even though they were amazed at all they’d seen and heard…even though they glorified and praised God for all of the things they’d experienced. They returned to their jobs…they knew about mangers…I wonder…were any of them still alive 33 years later? Or had they shared their miraculous story with their children with such fervor…that at the cross “they wondered…“How can this be good news now?”

Christmas doesn’t seem like good news and great joy for everyone I meet. The homeless drunk I sat talking with last week wasn’t experiencing too much good news and joy, neither was the woman who was facing the first Christmas after her Dad’s death, or the guy who was trying to figure out where his kids would be on their Christmas after his divorce… The songs seem kind of hollow…the shopping is a chore, the cold doesn’t get any warmer because someone says “Merry Christmas.”

But I believe with all my heart Christmas was made for those with a broken heart, not the false, glitzy, tensile thing we sometimes call Christmas, but the real Christmas. You will not find the good news of great joy in a diamond box on the restaurant table that makes you go “Oh my Gosh…Oh my Gosh!” you will not find hope in the S.U.V. stuffed in a giant stocking under an even more gigantic Christmas tree, You won’t discover it in a bottle, or the eggnog, it’s found in God’s plan and His purpose, no matter how difficult the circumstances might look.

With earthly signs you get the information and the result almost immediately…when you see the 20 mile an hour curve sign…the curve is just moments in front of you…God’s signs…many times take a while. It’s why faith is an essential ingredient in pleasing Him. (Hebrews 6:4)

An unmarried teenage girl giving birth to her firstborn son, and only having a manger for His bassinet…doesn’t seem good or ideal. Her visitors are shepherds…strangers with an amazing story…But Mary’s response teaches us a lot about faith…even when the circumstances aren’t good…God is.

“Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart…She named him Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He was conceived.” (Luke 2:19, 21)

Mary was the only one at Jesus’ birth and His death…She laid Him in that feeding trough and she was there when He died…helping tend to his shredded body for burial.

“A baby born in Bethlehem
His hands, soft and gently curled
But held within their dimpled grasp
The hope of the entire world.”

Can you imagine being a 16 year old pregnant Jewish unmarried girl, engaged, betrothal to a carpenter…who has been informed by angelic messenger. “Greetings you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you…don’t be afraid, you’re going to have a child, a little boy…He will be called the Son of the most high. God will give him the throne of David…He’ll reign over the house of Jacob forever. His Kingdom will never end.

How’s this going to happen? I’m a virgin? (Mary) the angel answers “The Holy spirit will come upon you and the power of the most high will over shadow you…so the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Mary’s response it’s even more remarkable “I’m the Lord’s servant…may it be to me the Lord has said”
“Mary was nearly divorced, forced to become an immigrant in her teens, one day she would witness her firstborn’s gruesome execution.
Have you ever realized that Mary was only in her mid-forties when she stood at the foot of the cross? She watches her beloved oldest child, arrested, beaten, tortured and displayed out for the world to see…nailed to a cross.

Terry Ocasey writes “From upon the cross, her Jesus deserted by his brothers, who mocked his messianic pretensions (John 7:5) speaks to his Mom and his best friend’s “Mom, John will take care of you. John care for Mom” (John 19: 26, 27)

If you ever wonder if God can bring good out of bad…think of Mary…from the manager to the cross she knew Jesus was the savior of the world…the glue that holds all creation together.

“For God was please to have all his fullness dwell through Him and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things…How? By making peace through His blood shed on the cross…once we were alienated from God…His evenness because of the way we think and act…but now we have been reconciled by Christ’s physical body through death.

It’s God’s plan…even Jesus’ name, given before He was conceived reveals it…“Savior.”

Christmas is about God coming to be one of us…to reconcile us…to redeem us…to unite us with Him and with each other.

I can’t end today just looking at the manger and the cross…we must go beyond. It’s the great joy part of this good news plan

III. WHEN ALL THE FAMILY CELEBRATES TOGETHER

The last mention of Mary, Jesus’ mother is after His resurrection. She is present with all the disciples…but listen:

ACTS 1:13-14 (p. 758)

Everyone is praying together, including Mary. Not just with the disciples but with her other sons…Jesus’ brothers who have come to believe.

Christmases are very different for me now that I’m older, people are absent…chairs are empty…I have great joy, especially with my grandchildren but the toys that used to excite me don’t really matter as much (although I’ve never gotten a new truck in a gigantic stocking under a gigantic tree.)

But being with those I love gives me the greatest joy…Being with my family is a big deal.

I can’t imagine the faith that takes you from trusting God as a virgin to lay your son in a manger…see Him grow in wisdom, stature and truth only to be nailed to a cross…And even have your other children mock Him…And then everything changes…His resurrection…those other brothers becoming believers…standing together in worship…knowing it all now makes sense.

I believe Heaven will be like that…and sooooo much more…THEN.

Let’s pray.