Glorious December greetings to every worshipper in our Bethel Youth Ministry! In humble faith in our Savior and constant obedience to Him, may we be primed to know true glory! Indeed, this glory is what Pastor John is carefully preparing us for this Christmas season of 2020.
This last Lord's Day he got us underway once more by reading from the Gospel written by our fellow gentile and the Apostle Paul's traveling companion, doctor Luke, chapter 1, verses 26 through 38: “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, '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.' 'How will this be,' Mary asked the angel, 'since I am a virgin?' The angel answered, '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. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.' 'I am the Lord’s servant,' Mary answered. 'May your word to me be fulfilled.' Then the angel left her.”
Pastor John then had us consider the WAIT, a matter of time. This teenaged Jewish girl Mary was already engaged to be married to Joseph, a carpenter. She was a perfectly well-behaved young maiden fully observing all of the strict Mosaic law expected of her. And the angel had the most incredible message for her, for which nothing of her life experience could prepare her for but for which her strong inner faith in God did prepare her.
As Pastor John reminded us, Mary was thinking carefully about what she was being told. In Luke 1:29 - “But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be” and again in Luke 1:34 – “How will this be…?” She would have to wait for the miracle to be fulfilled, the same as her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth, mother-to-be of John the Baptist. Anyway, through this humble, faithful girl God would give the fallen world the greatest gift – the gift of salvation – the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ – Jesus!
The name "Jesus" is the English from the Latin Iesus from the Greek Ἰησοῦς (Iésous) from the Hebrew ישוע (Yeshua) which is the shortened form for יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshua) a name which comes from the Hebrew verbיָשַׁע (yasha), which means to save. To get Yehoshua, the verb was combined with the Hebrew consonants for God Y-H-W-H. So in short, the name "Jesus" means “God rescues”.
(BTW the Korean 예수 [yesu] comes more directly from the original Hebrew used at the time of the Christ's earthly ministry. Just as Pastor John has said, Korean school can be worth it!)
Now, we can all recall that a short time back Pastor John soon came to realize the worth of a friend's gift of simple anti-acid medications. A worthy gift they were. But how much more desperately has all of fallen mankind needed the gift of salvation? From the time of Adam! The worth of the gift of the Christ comes in our realizing how desperately we need this gift!
Pastor John shared with us something of his family Christmas traditions: No trees, no gifts. But he had as a boy a great yearning for years for this special toy train set. One Christmas it finally came. There was great excitement because the WAIT WAS WORTH IT.
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has apparently developed a usable Covid-19 vaccine. Its worth and value is commonly held high because of the WAIT for it by billions of people.
There is the obvious featherweight of a paper $100 bill. But a father taught his child the true WEIGHT of the $100 bill through cashing in for pennies. It was a huge weight; far more pennies than can be carried. It was a graphic way for the child to understand the true weight of the $100 bill.
Back to the interview with the angel Gabriel: humble, very careful Mary had to consider the WEIGHT of what she was being told. Her faith must have been so great as nothing in her life up to that point could have given her worldly preparation to calculate and accept what she was being told. We read again Luke 1:38 “and Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'”So, fully comprehending what she heard, in the greatest faith Mary was TRUSTING and SUBMITTING. In worldly terms she was taking a big risk – a broken engagement and complete social ostracism at least; possibly even being stoned to death if someone wanted to make an example of her. But, she said toi the angel Gabriel “May it be according to your word” or “May everything you said about me come true”
Such courage from the faith of this young girl!
Mary with careful attention but without hesitation chose to bear the weight of the unique divine conception. Such is the inevitable weight of obedience which is true glory. We bear the weight of obedience because Jesus took on the greatest burden of obedience for us. In the Garden of Gethsemane when facing imminent arrest, show trial and crucifixion He did say to the Father “Not my will, but yours be done”as Mary had earlier “May it be according to your word”
The story of Christmas tells us that in the person of the Son, God became breakable, fragile - someone who can get hurt. He did so because He wanted to RESCUE US (remember: Jesus means “God Rescues”). God is holy, and yet approachable through Jesus our Savior and Intercessor. As Pastor John reminded us, in Jesus, we are made righteous and we are loved and we are safe. When we could not bear the heaviness of sin and the weight of glory (God’s holiness), Jesus took on that weight for us.
So again we read Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” Here at Christmas!
Again, Jesus took on the greatest weight of obedience in the Garden of Gethsemane.
More than our waiting on Jesus - Jesus is waiting on us with the weight of His sacrifice for us.
True glory – hallelujah!