Luke 1:26-38

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Theme “Jesus is the Promised Divine Savior”

            I. His coming announced by Gabriel (26-31)

            II. His coming promised by God (32-35)

            III. His coming received by Faith (36-38)

            Dear fellow redeemed waiting for the Savior,

            Who is Jesus? This is the most important question we could ever ponder. This is a question that most Americans have been confronted with in some fashion. A national survey was completed this fall to find out the average American’s answer to this question.  How does the average American answer this question? Well, the survey found that only 36% of Americans disagreed with the statement “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” In other words, 64% of Americans agree, or at least don’t disagree, with the statement “Jesus was not God.” More shockingly, 26% of Americans who identified themselves as Evangelical Christians agreed with the statement “Jesus was not God.” What this tells us is that the majority of Americans freely declare they do not believe Jesus to be God, and even a large number of people who claim to be Christians freely declare that as well. This is the majority opinion in our country. The majority opinion is completely wrong. Advent is fast closing, Christmas is nearly here – prepare with recognition that Jesus is the promised divine Savior.

            Jesus’ coming was announced by an angel. Luke writes that God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary – “a virgin betrothed to a man.” Mary and Joseph had taken the binding marriage vows. All that was left was for Joseph to take his bride to live with him. Mary was a descendant of King David. Mary needed to be a descendant of David, because, as we read in the Old Testament lesson, God promised that the Messiah would be one of David’s offspring.

            Gabriel was sent to announce to Mary that she would be the mother of the divine Savior, of God. He said to her, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” The root word for “favored” here is the word for grace – God’s undeserved love. Mary was the recipient of God’s grace. The Lord was with her. Certainly God is with all His children. He was also with Mary in a special way. It is the Holy Spirit who brought about Jesus’ conception. That Mary conceived is miraculous. Her Child is God.

            Mary’s response was to wonder what the angel meant. In all of this Mary did not disbelieve the words of the angel. She simply wondered what his words meant and how they would be fulfilled. And Gabriel who announced the Savior brought her comfort as well.

            Gabriel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” God’s grace was the reason Mary need not fear. Grace is never earned or worked for. It is poured out as a gift. Mary too needed God’s grace. She recognized her own sin and need for a Savior. In verse 47 of this chapter she calls God her “Savior.” Gabriel then told Mary, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.” This is presented as fact. It will happen. “Jesus” means “Savior.” Matthew 1:22 explains the name by telling us that Jesus will save His people from their sin. This Jesus is the divine promised Savior!

            We need a Savior. Through Adam, all people have fallen from perfection into sin. As descendants of Adam, we share in his guilt (Romans 5:18). We also have received from Adam through our parents the corruption of human nature. The depths of this are so great that Scripture tells us we cannot do a single thing that is truly good on our own (Ephesians 2:1). Everything is tainted by our sin. Your best efforts fall short: your best efforts to not snap at your children, your best efforts to not fight with your spouse, your best efforts to be calm and patient, your best efforts to speak kindly, and your best efforts to think purely.

            Just as Adam transgressed God’s command by eating the fruit he was told not to, so too we have transgressed God’s commands. This Advent season have you kept God’s command to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind and your neighbor as yourself without allowing any sinful thoughts, desires, or actions? No, you have not. Just as Adam and Eve were cast from the Garden, we deserve to be cast from God’s presence into eternal punishment.

            This is why the Savior’s coming is such good news. We need a Savior! His coming was promised by God from of old. Gabriel described the Savior with these words, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David.” The Old Testament lesson spoke of how God would establish the kingdom of the coming Messiah, the descendant of David, forever.

            Through Adam all have fallen into sin, but Christ came to restore what had been lost. The Son took to Himself human flesh and lived a life in the flesh that was in perfect harmony with God’s will and law. Because Jesus had no biological father, He did not inherit guilt from Adam. Because Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, He had no sinful nature. And whereas Adam fell into sin, Christ instead kept Himself perfectly free from sin. Through faith, we claim His sin-free life as ours so that we may be able to stand in the presence of God in eternity.

            Jesus took all the sin and guilt of all people from Adam to the last person who will be born. He is the lamb whose blood brings forgiveness. That is why Christ died on the cross. John the Baptist stated concerning Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Through faith, we claim forgiveness by the blood of the Lamb. The Son took human flesh to Himself so that we might be raised to divine glory in eternal life in heaven. Just as He rose again physically on Easter morning, so also all believers will rise physically to eternal life. All people became sinful through Adam, but Christ offers forgiveness, righteousness, and eternal life to all.

            Christ is the greatest gift. He comes to us not in gift bags or snowflake wrapping paper. Instead He comes in the package of a book, the wrapping of water, and in the gift bag of bread and wine. Through these, Christ comes to you, your sins are forgiven, and life is given to you!

            Gabriel told Mary that Jesus would reign “over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” This is the language of the Old Testament; this is language Mary would understand. King David was Israel’s greatest king, and yet the people were told that the Messiah would be greater. Jesus and David had a number of similarities, they both were born in Bethlehem, they both are kings, and they both are shepherds, but Jesus is greater. Jesus delivered the “house of Jacob,” or all believers, from bondage to sin and hell. Jesus rules the kingdom of believers; He leads us to our eternal home and directs things for our benefit.

            Our text twice tells us that Mary was a virgin. Rather than being redundant, this emphasizes how important this truth is. Isaiah 7:14 states concerning Mary and Jesus, “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The teaching of the virgin birth dare not be ignored or removed, as many have done. If Jesus was not born of a virgin, then He was just a man and not also true God. And if He was just a man then He was sinful like us and therefore not able to bring about our salvation. But Jesus was born of a virgin! Christ is true God and true Man! Here is salvation!

            Jesus’ coming is received by faith. When Mary heard the words of Gabriel she asked how this could be since she was a virgin. Again, Mary was not in disbelief; we see that clearly from verse 38 and verse 45 of this chapter. Mary simply inquired as to how this was to happen, and Gabriel gave her the answer: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy–the Son of God.” The Holy Spirit caused this conception; He worked it by His mighty power. What a wonder! God takes on human flesh.

            Mary received Gabriel’s words with a humble faith. “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” What faith! The God who has no limits brings us to such faith as well. And through that faith we recognize that Christmas is not just something we look forward to or back on. In the Word and Sacrament, the Christ-child and His manger right now are present for us. That is our Christmas event. God is “with us!” We receive our Lord as He comes to us in His Word and Sacrament.

Jesus is the divine promised Savior. Don’t keep this wonderful news to yourselves. We all have people we interact with who need to learn or relearn this truth. Use the Christmas season to tell or invite others to come hear about the Savior!  

            Dear friends, the question of “who is Jesus?” matters. The answer is in God’s infallible Word. Jesus is the God-Man. The Second Person of the Holy Trinity, co-equal with Father and Holy Spirit, took on human flesh. Only God could accomplish our salvation. Only the one who is truly divine could do what the Christ needed to do. A holy life. An innocent death. Forgiveness won. Mankind was in need of a Savior. The Savior came on Christmas. The Savior is Jesus. That’s what Christmas is all about. Recognize that Christ Jesus is the divine Savior. May your Christmas celebrations be full of joy in the Savior! Amen.