The Seven Miracles of Christmas
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 12/11/05
The word annunciation is not commonly used in America today. The word means, making an announcement or proclamation. The announcement in focus here is the one made by the angel Gabriel indicating that the Virgin Mary is God’s choice of all the women upon earth to be the mother of Jesus. Let’s take a closer look at the passage.
"And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God." Luke 1:26-30
Verse 26 tells us the timing of the announcement. The Angel Gabriel was sent to the Virgin Mary in the 6th month of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Gabriel had previously appeared to Zacharias telling him that Elizabeth would conceive in her old age and bear John the Baptist who would pave the way for the Messiah. But, previous to those two appearances, just six month apart, it had been nearly 500 years since the last recorded mission God has sent the Angel Gabriel to discharge. Daniel 9:21-27 records Gabriel’s prophetic revelation concerning the time of the Messiah’s coming.
Let’s examine Gabriel’s message to Mary
found in Luke 1:28.
Thou art highly favored –This phrase indicates that Mary was being chosen in preference to all the women upon earth, to be the mother of Jesus. However, it is absolutely not appropriate to refer to her, as the mother of God, for that is blasphemy.
The Lord is with thee – This indicates that the Lord is about to bestow unique favor upon Mary.
Blessed art thou among women -- That is to say, among all women of the earth God distinctively blessed Mary beyond all others. She was special among women but NOT to be exalted above women.
How did Mary respond to Gabriel’s announcement? You might think that she was elated, but nothing could be further from the truth. Verse 29 reveals that she was troubled. The Greek word translated troubled is diatarassw diatarasso (dee-at-ar-as'-so; 1298) from where we get our word distressed. Simply stated, she was distressed and puzzled. Why? First, it was not culturally acceptable among Jews for a man to directly address a woman. Gabriel appeared as a man. Beyond that, it was not lawful for a messenger to address a woman in any way, shape or form. You were to go through her father or husband. No wonder Mary was distressed and puzzled! Not to mention that she was saluted as a peculiar favorite of God, and blessed among women. The Annunciation is miracle #1. Now to miracle #2…
"And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." Luke 1:31-35
It would be easy to develop several sermons dealing with these five verses in Luke 1. That is not my intention here. However, I do want to point out that what was said in these 5 verses is mind-boggling to me, so think of the affect on young Mary, who was likely in her teen years. Gabriel declares…
After being barraged by all this information Mary’s response was, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" Basically she is saying, how is this going to happen because I am a virgin. The answer is given in verse 35, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
God the Father, and God the Holy Spirit formed the human body and human nature of the eternal Word of God within the womb of Mary. He became flesh. Again, the human body and human spirit of the Son of God were created by the energy of God the Father and God the Spirit within the womb of the Virgin Mary. This is the miracle of conception without the aid of a man. Next we come to the third miracle of Christmas…
Gabriel had appeared to Mary to tell her what was going to happen, and it did happen just as he had said. But, what of Joseph, her betrothed? What would he think? What would he do? And how would he ever believe her when she told him about her angelic encounter and that she was pregnant, NOT immorally…but miraculously. God solved the problem. The Angel of the Lord makes a visit to Joseph. Let’s read the Scriptural account in Matthew 1:18-25.
"Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS." Matthew 1:18-25
"God covered all the bases" as it were. As a result, Joseph did not divorce Mary, his betrothed but "took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son." That brings us to the next miracle of Christmas…
As with the word annunciation, incarnation is a word that we rarely use in conversation today. The word literally means, the act of clothing with flesh. This is the act of assuming flesh, or of taking a human body and the nature of man as with the incarnation of the Son of God. The second person of the Trinity always existed. We know this by what we read in John 1:1-4 & 14 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 14 "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
This incarnation of the Word of God, God becoming man, was foretold in Micah 5:2 "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
The Eternal God becoming man indeed is a miracle of the highest degree. That brings us to the 5th miracle…
In that day, no one would have noticed or even cared about a baby being born in a stable, if it would not have been for the miraculous declaration of his birth to the shepherds by the angels. After the angelic announcement, the shepherds went to see the Savior and then spread the news far and wide. Let’s read the Biblical account found in Luke 2:8-17.
"And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15 And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16 And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child."
The celestial announcement is clearly a miracle. Let’s look at the 6th miracle
There is an important passage of Scripture that is not usually mentioned in association with the Christmas story. It records a conversation between God and his Son. This conversation reveals the reason for the incarnation. Let’s read Hebrews 10:5-10.
"Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: 6 In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. 7 Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. 8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
What a miracle. God became man so that He could offer Himself as a sin offering for our sins that we might be saved.
The last miracle of Christmas revolves around the visit of the wise men. They were directed to the Christ child by a star. This star was the wise men’s own personal GPS and led them to the home where the young child resided with his parents. Jesus could have been as old as two years old at this point. When the wise men arrived in Bethlehem, they worshipped Christ and presented him with costly presents. Let’s read the account in Matthew 2:1-12
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5 And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7 Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8 And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9 When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way."
Wise men (and women) still seek Christ and when
they have found Him, they worship Him! These are the 7 Christmas