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We are having Christmas service today. We will look at three characters from the Gospel of Luke today. The first is Mary, the mother of Jesus. The second is the shepherds who are in the Christmas story, and the third is an old man named Simeon who met baby Jesus in the temple of the Lord. Through the faith and the lives of these people, we would like to rejoice and celebrate the birth of the Savior together while looking back on the events of Christmas. Now let’s look at Mary’s situation and her faith.
Please open Luke 1:26-38. God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary, and he said, “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.”(Verse 31)
In verse 28, the angel speaks to Mary, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”」(Luke 1:30-33 NIV) What the angel told her was very interesting and surprising. If we sort out what the angel told her about, firstly Mary will give birth to a son. She is to call him Jesus (which means “the Lord saves”). He is the Savior prophesied in the Old Testament and he will be given the throne of David. (Reference; Isaiah 9: 7) Mary responded to this unexpected news like this, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Verse 34) In verse 35, the angel responded to her question, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.」(Luke 1:35 NIV) Let us pay attention to this fact that Jesus was born out of creative work of the Holy Spirit, and it was by His work that Mary got pregnant with Jesus. Because it was the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus is called the Son of the Most High. Then the angel started talking about Mary’s relative, Elizabeth that she is going to have a child in her old age. He said to Mary “For no word from God will ever fail.”
In verse 38, Mary’s confession of faith is written. “I am the Lord’s servant, May your word to me be fulfilled.” The word servant refers to female of low class, or maid. As a woman who accepted the Word of God and responded that she was His servant, she experienced the miracle of God.
Luke 1: 46-55 contain Mary’s song. Her humble heart and her gratitude to the Lord were expressed. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.」(Luke 1:46-48 NIV) Verse 50 says, 「His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.」(Luke 1:50 NIV) The joy of Christmas is given to us when we humble ourselves and receive His precious work of sending the Savior to this world. God’s mercy has been given to all believers for generations.
The second character we learn from today is the shepherds. Please read Luke 2:8-20. They witnessed the glory of the Lord and heard the voice of the Lord’s angel. Verse 11 says,「Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.」(Luke 2:11 NIV) The shepherd at that time was considered to be the most unpleasant profession in Israel since they could not keep the Sabbath. People thought they were abandoned by God because they could not keep the law. But this is only a human perspective, not a divine perspective of God. I’m sure they spend lots of their time in the field at night, and I imagine they were being amazed by God’s creation and counted His blessings of nature around them. They would have turned their hearts to God while looking at the stars in the sky. They were the ones who deserved to hear the praise of the angels. They were the ones who could respond to the word spoken by the angel of heaven. That is why they were given the privilege of seeing the baby Jesus for the very first time, who was sleeping in the manger. Luke 2:20 says,「The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.」It is such a privilege of meeting the Lord in person, worshiping Him, and praising Him.
The third character is the old man Simeon. Please read Luke 2:22-35. He is introduced in verse 25,「Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him.」
(Luke 2:25 NIV) In the following verses, it describes that it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. It is emphasized how he trusted in God and he was obedient to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Verse 30-32 say,「For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”」(Luke 2:30-32 NIV) What the Holy Spirit shows us is that Jesus is the Savior and the light of revelation. And His redemption on the cross is the work of salvation for us all. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we would like to witness that Jesus is our Savior.
Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Just like Simeon, let us encounter Jesus and proclaim that He is our savior by the Holy Spirit. Also, just like Mary and the shepherds, we would like to humble ourselves and taste the salvation of Jesus, and share the joy of salvation with others.