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Jesus Is Anticipated

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Description: Mary needs counsel and friendship after her big news. She is comforted and encouraged by Elizabeth and together they process what is happening to the both of them. We too need those kinds of friendships, people who will listen and people that will speak into our lives.

Keywords: Gospel, Jesus, God, Luke, narrative, Son of God, Bible, Sermon, Bible Fellowship Church, BFC, Whitehall, Northern Lehigh

Date: December 06, 2015

Series: Luke

Speaker: Pastor Tim

Church: Whitehall

Scripture: Luke 1:39-56

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Audio: Listen to this Sermon (time 33:38)

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1 “Jesus is Anticipated” (Luke 1:39-56) CLARENCE REHRIG: “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. “And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.’ “And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble 2 estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.’ “And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.” May God bless the reading of his word. PASTOR SCHMOYER: Thank you, Brother. You’re going to need three things, friends. You’re going to need the green sheet, our sermon notes for this morning; you’re going to need the connection card, so get that ready; and you’re going to need listening ears. Kids, at school do your teachers tell you to put on your listening ears? No. You’re beyond that. Do your teachers tell you to do that? Good. All right, listening ears. Here we go. Jesus is in the womb of Mary, right? Last week we unpacked that passage. Verse 35, the angel says to Mary, all right, the power of the Most High is going to come upon you, the Holy Spirit will overshadow you, and therefore, the child will be called the Son of the Holy One, the Holy Son of God. And so Mary is now pregnant with the Christ 3 child, with baby Jesus, and she leaves from her home in today’s passage, verse 39, to go to her relative Elizabeth and Zechariah. Because the angel had told her, Listen, nothing is impossible with God. Yes, you’re a virgin, and yes, you’re going to have a baby, and in the same way your old cousin, Elizabeth, though they were barren, they’re going to have a kid. And so Mary puts two and two together. I can’t come to grips with what’s happening to me, so let me connect with someone that’s going through the same circumstance. Mary can’t fathom what’s happening to her, so she finds someone that’s close, a person of faith that is going through the exact same circumstance. Elizabeth, this elderly woman, is now pregnant. She prayed for a baby her whole life. Now she’s advanced in years, past the age of having children, and now Elizabeth is pregnant. And so Mary wants to connect with her cousin to talk about their common circumstance; how can these things be. In fact when the Angel Gabriel visited both Zechariah and Mary, they both responded to the angel that same way: How can this possibly be? So now they’re going to talk; they’re going to put their heads together; they’re going to decompress; and they’re going to celebrate. 4 They’re going to strategize. Mary is in an awful pickle. Mary, through no fault of her own, is going to have a baby. She’s been a virgin, she obviously — it’s not her fault that she’s pregnant, an unexpected pregnancy; but in that day, in that space, in that place that would have been a very socially problematic situation for her to be in. And so she needs to strategize. What am I going to tell Mom and Dad? What am I going to tell Joseph, my betrothed, my fiance? What are we going to tell our small town where rumors spread like wildfire? And so she goes to a godly woman that she can trust, Elizabeth. So she makes haste verse 39 says. She went with haste. Why do you think she went with haste? Because she realizes what’s about to happen to her waist. You get that? I realize that that’s why you came this morning, to hear that one-liner. All right. She goes with haste because she doesn’t want anyone in town to catch on to the fact that she’s pregnant. She needs to strategize with Elizabeth before she unrolls this news to her hometown. So she goes quickly to Judah, to the hometown of Zechariah and Elizabeth. She entered the house, and she was greeted by Elizabeth, and verse 41 says that when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in 5 her womb leapt. Right, the kicking. She’s six months pregnant. All right? The Angel Gabriel said, “Your relative Elizabeth is in her sixth month.” So the baby has been kicking for quite some time. It’s been so long. Our oldest is 11 now. Our youngest is now 6. Six? It’s been a long time since we had babies. I’m still trying to lose weight from the first one, so we’re done with kids. We’re done with kids. And so I had to ask Rachel, How far along does the baby get before it starts kicking? And she said, you know, with the first one it’s maybe eight weeks, something like that, 20 — what is it, 20 weeks? I don’t even remember now. It’s been a busy week for me. With the further along, the multiple children, you can feel the kicking sooner, so she couldn’t even recall necessarily. Anyway, six months, the baby has been kicking a long time. All right, the baby leapt in her womb, verse 41, and she interprets that. Elizabeth understands this isn’t the regular kick. This isn’t the regular movements of this child that’s been in my womb for all this time, that this is a unique kind of leaping. For it says at the end of 41, because she was filled with the Holy Spirit. And so Elizabeth announces a blessing on her 6 cousin Mary. She confirms what Gabriel had told Mary all along, and this is why we’re saying in point No. 1 that God’s spirit in a community of believers confirms his grace. So Gabriel, the angel, announced to Mary one on one privately back in her hometown of Nazareth. Now she is with godly people. She’s with Elizabeth, she’s with Zechariah. We know from earlier in the book, chapter 1 verse 5 and following, that there was this priest, Zechariah, his wife, Elizabeth, and they were both righteous verse 6 says. Both righteous, they walked blameless. So now she’s in a community of deep believers, and God confirms his message and confirms his grace to Mary through the venue of godly community. So what I’m suggesting is that what we observe in today’s passage ought to be what we’re observing in the fellowship of God’s people. We’ll read some passages to help you connect those dots. But Mary goes to godly people that she can trust, and these godly people filled with the Holy Spirit, verse 41, confirm God’s grace to Mary. For we see this prophecy in verse 42. “Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, blessed is the fruit of your womb.'” How did Elizabeth know that 7 Mary was pregnant? All we know is Mary walked into the house and said, Hello, I’m here, whatever she said. We don’t know what she said. She greeted them, and now Elizabeth, filled with the spirit, says, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb.” How would Elizabeth have known that? Except that she was filled with the Spirit, and she was prophetically encouraging a teenage girl, Mary, who needed great encouragement. Verse 43. “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth in humility says, You are to be so honored. Why do you honor me, the lowly one, with your noble, regal visit? I don’t deserve for you, great person, to come visit me. She’s giving encouragement to this young girl with a great circumstance, a difficult circumstance. This is her interpreting of the baby kicking in the womb, verse 44. “Behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leapt for joy.” This is exactly what Mary needed, because Gabriel had told Mary, “Your cousin Elizabeth is now in her sixth month.” So all of this message that Gabriel said to Mary hangs on this message of news, “Your cousin Elizabeth who was barren is now in her sixth 8 month.” Mary takes the whole message, you’re going to have the Son of God in your womb, and that is possible because your barren, old cousin Elizabeth is pregnant. She takes all that news of Gabriel, and now Elizabeth, when Mary comes, Elizabeth confirms to Mary. What the angel said to Mary earlier, now Elizabeth confirms it, right? Elizabeth says, “The baby in my womb leapt for joy because of your coming.” So now Mary knows: Okay, nothing is impossible with God because God opened the womb of my post-menopause, barren cousin, Elizabeth. God opened that womb, and God filled that baby with the Holy Spirit because now the baby is leaping for joy that now I’ve come. Okay. So I guess everything Gabriel said is true. This is what’s happening in Mary’s mind; this is how Mary is understanding this whole dilemma. Is the message of the angel true? And she goes and visits her cousin, and the cousin without even being prompted confirms that the message of the angel really was true. This gives Mary confidence. This gives Mary encouragement. If God wants to bring about the salvation of mankind and God chooses to use my womb to carry his child, then I guess he’s going to see me through, because look at 9 the circumstance of my cousin Elizabeth. All right. The confirmation. Now, let’s unpack this for today. You might have received some difficult news. I’m not sure an angel would have visited you, but perhaps the doctor visited you. Perhaps your husband, your wife, your child visited you. Perhaps you got a call from school. You love those calls. And you got bad news, and you’re carrying that weight all by yourself, like Mary carrying that news all by herself. And what does Mary do with that burden, what does Mary do with that perhaps depression or what do I do with this heavy load on my shoulders? Let me go to God’s people. Friend, that is the best solution to any problem. Let me go to God’s people, let me have them encourage me. Let me have them weep with those who weep, let me have them rejoice with those who rejoice. Let me help them to carry my struggle with me so that it’s not me by myself. Jesus later, when Jesus grew up and Jesus is drawing the crowd, and he says in Matthew’s gospel, “Come to me all who are weary, all who are heavy-laden. I will give you rest for your soul. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me. My load is 10 easy, my burden is light.” That when we come to God, when we come to God’s community, that we are helped to unload our burden, that other people will shoulder that load with us. I want to show you from God’s word that that is an ongoing principle. That that is not something that just merely Mary and Elizabeth experienced but really all of God’s people ought to experience: You are not alone, you should not have to carry your concern by yourself. God’s people are here for you. That’s why we assemble, right? You can get Jesus on television, on the internet, on the radio. We come together because community strengthens and confirms God’s grace to you. You aren’t in it by yourself. Keep a finger in Luke. Go to the book of Hebrews, which is later in the scriptures. It’s towards the end of the Bible, one of the largest books towards the end. Go to Hebrews chapter 10. God’s people were going through some great adversity during this time. Christianity had taken root, people were turning their lives over to Jesus after the death, burial, resurrection, after the messengers, the apostles started going out. People started to turn their lives to God, and this book is written to encourage Christians who are being deflated, mocked, 11 ridiculed. So we’re in Hebrews 10. Look at it, verse 19 and following: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, and by the new and living way opened by him for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from any evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering . . .” So perhaps Mary and her faith was wavering. How am I going to endure this adversity? Verse 23 continues, “for he who promised is faithful. Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and to good works . . .” And here that’s what Elizabeth is doing in Mary’s heart. Verse 25, “and not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” The day of Mary’s delivery was drawing near; the day of Christ’s return is drawing near. And friends, when we find ourself in a place of discouragement, you’re carrying a heavy load of medical concerns, of 12 relationship problems, you don’t know financially how you’re going to make ends meet. You’re carrying this weight, and this scripture says, let us get together so that we can carry each other’s load. And so Mary and Elizabeth join together in sweet fellowship. Yes, to be together, as people are prone to just draw together, but also that they might carry each other’s load and seek mutual encouragement. Listen, God’s spirit in the community of faith confirms his grace. And I would just encourage you, don’t just show up, clock in, and leave. Actually talk to someone, actually reach out to someone. When you see someone that’s discouraged, they have this gloom about them, ask what’s going on, How can I pray for you? When they share their burden, pray with them right that very moment. Lay hands on them, put your arms around them and pray with them and over them. This is why Mary comes to Elizabeth. This is why you come to God’s church, to seek the encouragement of one another. And so perhaps God’s burdening you to roll this out in your faith today. On your connection card this first point, perhaps God wants you today to see that you should “continue to surround yourself with faithful people in God’s community in order to be refreshed by the Spirit’s testimony of God’s grace 13 through them.” Someone here has a word for you. Be receptive, be a listening ear, hear what someone is going to encourage you with. And then return the favor, let them unpack themselves for you. Weep with those who weep, rejoice with those who rejoice, greet each other with a holy kiss, bear one another’s burdens. The whole of the New Testament is that we live life together carrying each other’s concerns. And so I would encourage you to surround yourself with faith-filled believers that you can unload your burdens with. Let’s move on to the next point. Go back to Luke chapter 1, and we’re going to cover the whole of Mary’s Magnificat here this morning, verse 46 through 56, a lofty prayer of majesty. So let’s just unroll it. Verse 45 ends, “Blessed is she,” this is Elizabeth talking to Mary, “blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” In other words, Elizabeth is saying, listen, Mary, I know you’ve got your burdens. All right? You’re this teenager, unexpected pregnancy. I get that, I feel that. I’m with you, I’m encouraging you. And hey, by the way, let me tell you my concern. My 14 husband stopped talking to me. Because we know what happened to Zechariah, right? Zechariah did not believe the message of the angel, and the angel shut his mouth during the entire pregnancy of Elizabeth. I’m not sure how John came about if Zechariah wasn’t able to speak, but God did and God brought that about in their lives. He’s about to speak by the way. When John is born next Sunday, Zechariah will be able to speak again. But verse 45, Elizabeth is saying to Mary, look, we have our concern, too. Zechariah was punished because he disbelieved. Blessed are you because you did believe. Mary responds with a song. So Elizabeth said, verse 45, and Mary said, verse 46. We don’t know if she sang it; we don’t know if she prayed it; we don’t know if she just said this to Elizabeth. We don’t know if she was filled with the Spirit and she prophetically prayed this. We don’t know if she’s been milling these words over during her entire journey from Nazareth to the hill country of Judah. But she says this prayer in verses 46 and following, and the gist of it is God elevates the humble and God brings low the proud. Let’s go through it line by line. “My soul magnifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices 15 in God my Savior.” This is where we pause and say, all right. Mary is confessing her own faults, because here she is in need of a Savior. If she was completely without sin, she would not have said God is my Savior. The whole prayer is about God and his action, how good God is, not about how good she herself is. She is self-abased. Verse 48. “He has looked on the humble estate of his servant.” That is, I was nothing, and God looked at me, God favored me, not because of me, because I’m so low and so self-abased, but he elevated me. “For behold, from now on throughout all generations they will call me blessed.” And this is where we need to pause as Bible Christians and say that a vast number of Christians elevate Mary too high, and we respond and we bring her too low. And verse 48 would have us say look, we need to honor her. We shall not ever worship her, but we should honor her. We know that at least one generation of Christians went too far in their honoring of her, because when Islam was born in the 700s, all right, Muhammad wrote in his scriptures that those Christians worshiped a trinity of God the Father, God the Mother, Mary, and baby Jesus. They thought that we thought 16 that the trinity was father, mother, and son. That’s what they thought we thought. And if we honor her too high, people will think we worship her. We don’t. We honor God. We respect godly people, but we reserve worship for God himself. Let’s keep going. So we should have an honored position for Mary, we should respect her for her faith. Verse 49. “He who is mighty has done great things for me.” Can you say that in your prayer life? Would you say God has done mighty things on my behalf? He has honored the respect and the wishes of my prayers, that God is mighty towards me; can you say that in your life? Are there things in your life that you’ve prayed for that you could say God clearly answered that prayer for me? This is Mary’s honoring of God, resulting in praise she is honoring God. Verse 49 continues. “His name is holy. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.” So she’s already talked about God elevating the humble, and now she’s turning towards God brings low 17 those who are proud. And friends, I have to say in my experience that there are too many Christians that think too highly of themselves. They don’t ever pause to think about others except how they can use others to elevate their own status. And that’s wicked, and God will bring that to nothing. God brings low those who are proud, and God looks on and elevates the status of the humble. The scriptures say throughout, God is opposed to the proud, and he gives grace to those who are humble. So “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones (verse 52) and he has exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” Sometimes God doesn’t answer our prayers because we think we’re God and God is just there to be our genie. We rub the lamp, we come to him, here’s my next wish, because we were clever enough to say first of all I want infinity wishes. Right? We treat God like this genie, and that’s wicked. And God sends away the proud, the rich with nothing, because they think too highly of themselves. Verse 54. “He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of God’s mercy. He has spoken to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” 18 Mary’s recognizing on her travels from Nazareth to go visit Elizabeth, this very last point, Mary is realizing that she is part of the story of a long legacy that God promised long ago. God promised to Abraham long, long ago in 2000 B.C., “I will bless all the nations through your seed.” Now, if you were with us during our study of Galatians, you know what Paul does with that business. He says, notice that God didn’t promise this to Abram and to his seeds, plural, but to Abram and his seed, singular. That is, and Paul says this, that is he was speaking of the Messiah, the Christ. And so Mary now realizes, God, you made a promise to Abram and to your offspring, and, God, I know I’m part of it. I know that I don’t deserve to be because of my lowly estate, but you’ve chosen me to be part of it, and, God, I’m committing myself to be part of it. I would say then for you, you get to join in this as well. “Father Abraham had many sons, many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them and so are you.” We’re not Jewish, but through Christ we are included in the promise, we are co-heirs of the promise because we are joined to Christ. And friend, listen. You are part of God’s story of redeeming the world just as much as Mary. Mary is 19 saying, God, you promised this to Abram and to his offspring. I’m going to bear the offspring of Abram, this long lineage descendant, I’m going to give birth to the Son of God. Thank you for including me as part of your plan. And now because you and I are joined to Jesus Christ by faith, we get to join in that story of God blessing the nations through Abram and his seed. We get to bless the nations, for that offspring, Jesus, said to you, said to me, go and make disciples of who? All the nations. Through you, Abram, all the nations will be blessed. This offspring of Abram says to you and to me, “Go make disciples of all the nations.” We are blessing all the nations because we’re connected to Christ, because by faith we are part of this grand story of blessing all the nations. When we hear truth, when we receive God’s grace, it necessitates us praising God for it. Now, I know some of you aren’t singers. You just don’t like it; either it’s not manly or you just can’t carry a tune. Some of us just can’t carry a tune. Praise doesn’t necessarily look like singing. Praise can be talking, praise can be clapping, praise can be just awestruck at God. But would you tune your affections to honor him 20 for what he’s done for you? Here is Mary saying this prayer to God. You have done great things on my behalf. Thank you for including me in your plan. Though I was nothing, you included me in your plan, and I thank you. Whatever that looks like for you, however you tune your heart to give God honor and praise, consider all the things he’s done in your life and then get up and praise him for it. This could be in the prayer closet at your house. This could be storing up all of those treasured praises and then busting out on Sunday morning with thanksgiving in your heart in song. It can look a million different ways, but how do you thank and praise God for his goodness towards you? Has God done great things? Are you thankful for those things? Then praise him. Praise him with your mouth; praise him with your life; praise him with your heart; praise him as you talk to other people. Give God honor for things. I liked one of the prayer concerns in Sunday school this morning. That yes, this young man was going to doctors for things, but we are thanking God and praising him for what he did in answered prayer. I like that kind of heart; that it’s not what others have done, it’s what the Lord did through this whole 21 process. How thankful are you, how praise-filled is your heart? I want to close with this thought for you. Perhaps God is sharing in your life, but you’re not filled with enough praise. You receive all that he’s done, but you’re not thankful. You’re not adjusting your heart to be more thankful, and maybe God is exposing that in your life. The scriptures say “In everything give thanks.” Another translation, “In all circumstances give thanks.” And perhaps God is showing you what you need to be doing here. “I will take time out of my busy schedule to offer up praise to the Lord for my undeserved salvation.” This might be in your regular prayer time, in your regular devotional life. Spending more time on thanks and less time on the laundry list of give me this, give me that, give me the next thing. Our prayers should look more like thanksgiving and less like the Christmas gift list. Perhaps this looks like actually starting a devotional life, having a daily time of prayer and reading of scripture. Perhaps it looks a thousand different ways, but you need to apply that to your life, to be more thankful. What have we seen today? Mary and Elizabeth get 22 together because God loves and God uses faith community. He uses Christians rubbing up against each other, sharing life together, unloading our burdens together. God uses that to help us be encouraged. You’re not an island. And then as we spend time together and as we reflect on all God’s goodnesses, it should erupt into praise and thanksgiving. How praise-filled is your life? Two basic things, let me send you off with that. God, thank you for your truth, thank you for your call; your invitation for us to reflect on your goodness, to spend time with other believers and really unload our burdens so that we can share life as believers with each other. God, would you just shape our hearts with this message. I pray for anyone who’s investigating faith. They haven’t ever made any decisions about religion or faith or spirituality yet, and they’re just investigating what Christianity is all about. I pray as they sit under your word here in our worship gatherings, Lord, that you would just shape them to really come to that point of saying I believe. I believe what Jesus stood for; I believe what he’s all about; I want him in my life. Friend, whenever you call out to the Lord, the 23 scriptures say whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus will be saved. And that’s just a response of faith that you need to have. I’ll leave you and the Lord to it. But if you ever need to talk, would you just come to me, would you come to someone else and say, I want to follow Christ, would you help me do that? Lord, as we respond in praise and as we come to this table, would you nourish us in faith so that we can honor you and praise you more wholeheartedly. We ask this in Christ’s name. Amen.

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