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A Portrait of Mary: Mother of Jesus

Scripture: John 2:1-3, Luke 8:1-56, John 19:25
Date: 12/08/2007 
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a noble woman who was privileged to carry the Son of God. Yet, the One she raised and nurtured became her own Savior. She went from receiving Christ to proclaiming Christ as a disciple.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but it seems like over the years it’s taking longer for me to get up off of my knees after prayer. Any of you feel that way too? I used to just pop right up and now it’s just like ah! Happy Sabbath. Good to see each of you and we’re thankful to have you here. Any visitors that are here, we hope that you sense the Spirit of God in this place and that His love will be seen and felt in the church family. Just one more thing I thought I should add. In a special way next Sabbath is going to be a time we’re really going to have a lot of blessings in worship and music beginning with the men’s choir Friday night. We have two different academy bands and choirs coming Sabbath morning and Sabbath afternoon. We just couldn’t say no to our kids and so it’s going to be a day full of music. There will be a sermon. We expect there will be room for everybody. We’re going to maybe put some monitors in our overflow rooms upstairs. There’s plenty of room and they can see. So we hope everybody will come and bring your friends. It’s going to be a very inspiring weekend program.

We’re thankful for this time of year when we get to remember and to focus on the great sacrifice God made in giving His Son and the sacrifice that God the Son made in coming to our world. In keeping with that theme our message this morning is dealing with Mary. It’s a portrait of Mary, not to be confused with Mary Magdalene or the other Marys in the Bible, it’s Mary, Jesus’ mother. Jolene’s song was not only beautiful, but perfect. Thank you for planning that to go along with the sermon so well today. I even thought about re-titling this sermon “How to Pick Your Mother” which you normally wouldn’t think of, but really that’s what Jesus had to do, right? I remember a few years ago when I was at a campmeeting and I met with, at the campmeeting they had trust officers in a little booth went by and they talked to us about a will. Well, I hadn’t thought about that. I said, “I don’t have much to leave behind.” They said, “Well, you know, what if something happened to you? What about your kids?” I said, “Well, that’s what the wife is for.” They said, “Well, what if something happens to both of you?” I said, “Well, there’s grandmas and grandpas.” They said, “Well, you’ve got to think about this.”

So we sat down and talked and started to think and… They say, “Well, you know, if you and your wife should die together in a car accident and depending on if grandma and grandpa are available or maybe the math won’t work out or something is there another family that you’d like to pick to raise your children?” Any of you ever been through that before when your kids were young? You think about that and you’ve got to write something up. What if? Or do you want the state to decide that? And I’ll tell you, boy, you really start to scratch your head and rub your chin when you think, “Who do I want to be parents of my children if something happens to me?” So we prayed about it and we thought about it and we found another family in the absence of Grandma and Grandpa that could do that. We went and talked to them and we said, “Would you be willing?” They said, “You’d better take good care of yourself!” because they knew our kids. And since then I’ve had some… and I knew they’ve been praying for my health and welfare all of these years. We’ve actually had some families that are our friends and they’ve called us up and they’ve said, “Doug, just wanted you and Karen to know that if anything happens to us we’ve asked you to raise our children.” And we’ve been praying for them. But it’s really, we’re laughing, but it’s a serious thing when you think, who would you entrust your child to? Now if you were God the Father and even God the Son and you’ve got to pick somebody (with an emphasis on somebody) that you are going to be born into and you get to pick your mother and your father (earthly mother and father) that’s a pretty serious decision. I believe too much in the spiritual dynamics of the Bible to think that the Lord just lined up a bunch of Hebrew girls and went eeny, meeny, miny, moe and I think when He did pick Mary He picked somebody that would also be a fulfillment of many things other than just raising Jesus or just to be a surrogate mother for the Son of God. There’s a lot going on there. So we’re going to take some time this morning, I’m sure we’ll run out of time, as we explore A Portrait of Mary the one that Jesus was chosen to be entrusted to.

If you look in your Bibles probably a good place to start is the Gospel of Luke and we’ll return to this passage several times. After Luke introduced the story about John the Baptist, you then read in Luke chapter 1 (Luke has got the longest chapters in the Gospels), verse 26, “Now in the sixth month,” that means after he met with Zacharias and Elizabeth, “the angel Gabriel was sent by God…” this was a choice God made, “to a city of Galilee named Nazareth…” Nazareth was a town that was on the wrong side of the tracks. “…betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.” So this was the big announcement, you’ve heard it referred to before, where this angel actually appears to Mary. “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’ But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.” She’s wondering what does this mean, and why is he addressing me this way? “Then the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary,’” He called her by name. “for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” I could stop right here, spend the next fifty minutes easily talking about the prophetic fulfillment and the significance of what was happening here after this announcement. Mary knew what this meant. Every Jewish mother from Abraham, indeed every mother since Eve, knew that someday the seed of the woman would be born, God would come to earth in the form of a man as our example as a demonstration of who God is and ultimately as our substitute as our savior. Those are the three big reasons that Jesus came: to show us the Father, to be an example, and to ultimately trade places with us to take our suffering, to take our sin, to give us His goodness, to take our badness. He gives us His strength; He takes our weakness to make that big exchange.

God came to earth in the form of a man. Now we could spend hours talking about how was Jesus like us and yet how was He different? There’s a lot given in the Bible about the genealogy of Jesus. First thing I want you to notice though, is that God chose someone by the name of Mary. What does that mean? You know I did a little research. It’s the most popular name for girls. Did you know that? The US Census Bureau has a list of names and in North America these percentages show names chosen for girls. Mary is more than twice as many times chosen as choice number two which is Patricia and then on to Linda, Barbara, Elizabeth, and so forth. You notice several of those are Biblical names. A very popular name, Mary is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Miriam. Latin would be Maria. A lot of people, I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I’d venture to say there’s probably some Marys right here in this room. Oh, now I’ve got to know. How many here? How many Marys have we got? Either first or second name, Mary, raise your hand. I see one, two, of course Mary Hoatzin, three. I didn’t know that. Lori, is that your middle name? Wow, look at that. See. I see some others here. Yeah, what is it Cathy Marie? Yeah, see, a popular name. How many here named Jezebel? Why doesn’t anyone? She’s a Bible character. You know why people pick Mary is because her life was such a noble life and such a high calling.

Now I did a little study on the word Mary and it’s something of an enigma. The first time you find a Mary in the Bible, you remember Mary is the Greek form of Miriam, is an Old Testament girl and the word Miriam means rebellious or strong, stubborn, resistant. It might be Miriam stubborn waters or strong waters or waters of strength. They’re not sure. They’re not sure if Miriam was not really a play on the Hebrew name, but it may have been Egyptian. Now if it’s Egyptian, and don’t forget Miriam’s brother Moses. Was his name Hebrew or Egyptian? Moses’ name was Egyptian. He was named Moses by the princess for he was drawn from the water. There are pharaohs named Tut-Moses. So maybe keep in mind they’d been there slaves for years. It may be from the Egyptian. What does the Egyptian mean? If it’s from the Egyptian Mir or Miriam it means beloved or love. So some have said her name was Miriam meaning strong or rebellious because they were a people in captivity and Miriam was rebelling against the captivity. Don’t’ know for sure. One thing I do know is you immediately should realize what was Miriam’s role with Moses? Here she was supposed to help preserve her brother who was going to be her savior during a time when they were occupied by another nation. Mary was to preserve Jesus who was also to be her Savior. That must be very interesting to be the surrogate mother of… to participate in some way in the creation of your Creator.

Do you ever think about that? To watch your Creator be born? I mean, whoop, just mind-blowing how Mary could both be the parent of the Creator of all parents. I mean, you start thinking about what that means how Mary could be nursing the great Provider. I mean you start thinking about the role of Mary and so when this angel comes to her and makes this declaration every Jewish mother knew that someday the heir to David’s throne would come Whose throne would have no end. He’d be the Savior of the world, He’d be the great, the anointed, the Messiah, and so when the angel says, “You are the one…” he made it very clear. He used a lot of passages to make it clear you are the one. She could have balked at that like Zacharias said, “How can this be? It’s not possible!” but ultimately she says, “Be it unto your handmaiden as you have said.” She accepted it and that’s really something when you consider it. Now when you look at Mary you find out something. She’s got a prophetic pedigree. You notice it said that Jesus would be of the house of David. As you begin to study the genealogies in the Bible right away when you open your New Testament Matthew begins with a list of begats and you find out that the begats of Matthew go down to Jacob who was the father of Joseph who was married to Mary, but you go to Luke it’s a little different. In Luke it says Joseph who was the son of Heli not Jacob and people say, “Oh, the Bible can’t be trusted. There’s a conflict here. What are you supposed to do?”

Well, Luke was a doctor. Luke understanding that Jesus came through Mary and that nobody could question the physical connection between Mary and Jesus, he said, “Let’s trace it through Mary.” The father of Mary was Heli, and so Luke traces it through Mary’s line. Hebrew genealogies never listed the mother, they always listed the father. So it said Jacob whose father was, and what it really means whose father-in-law. He’s going through Mary’s father. Some commentators have said, one of the names that’s the same is Mattan or Mathan. It’s the same name. He could have been the father of two boys, Jacob and Heli, that were brothers. Heli was the father of Mary. Jacob the father of Joseph. It was not uncommon to marry first cousins even in Bible times. Matter of fact, there was a law in the Bible that dictated that it was important to preserve the family inheritance by marrying the daughter of the land. If Heli’s only daughter was Mary, in order to keep the inheritance in that family Joseph would have to marry her. Now there’s been some discussion, how old was she? I don’t go along with some of these pastors love to say, “Why she was probably just a thirteen or fourteen year old girl because they married young back then,” and I don’t believe that. Everything else that I read in the Bible seems to indicate that Mary was probably eighteen, nineteen years of age. She was a young lady. It may have been that Joseph married her and Joseph was considerably older.

I probably ought to pause right now and explain something that people always hiccup, folks struggle with this. The Bible tells us that Jesus had at least six siblings, four brothers that are named and two or three sisters because it says “His sisters”. So it could have been He had six which would have made Jesus the seventh. I like that ratio a little better. It’s kind of interesting, similar to some other lineups in the Bible. Joseph probably had those other six children before he married Mary. Now let me tell you why. Meaning they were older stepbrothers and sisters of Jesus, meaning Mary only had one child which was Jesus. Pastor Doug, how can you say that? Well, several reasons. First of all in the Bible if Jesus was the oldest of the siblings it would have been considered very disrespectful for Him to leave, after Joseph died, the family business and become an itinerant preacher. It was always the youngest who was free to leave home. The oldest was supposed to get a double inheritance and take over the family business. Even in the story of the prodigal son which one leaves home? The younger one. Another reason is you’ll notice that Jesus’ brothers are trying to tell Him what to do several times during His ministry. The younger brothers would not do that with the eldest brother. Furthermore, at the cross of Christ, Jesus commits the care of his mother not to one of His siblings, wouldn’t that have been the natural thing to do if they were her real children? Why even bother?

It was understood. But the fact that they were not her children meant that He needed to commit the care of his mother and he doesn’t even use one of His brothers, He uses John. So you have to in your mind revise that postcard you’ve got in your head of when Mary and Joseph are going and fleeing down to Egypt. The idea that it is Mary and Joseph and Mary is sitting on a donkey, and she’s holding the baby and you’ve got the silhouette of those three fleeing. Probably not. It’s Mary on the donkey holding the baby and Joseph and then picture a trail, a whole oogle of little kids following. That is a little more accurate. Most scholars agree with this, in spite of what the Christmas cards say, they were probably His step-brothers. Now having said all that, one of the reasons that Joseph probably married Mary, his wife had died. It was not uncommon to even marry your sister-in-law if your brother had died. So he may have married her for this reason, Numbers 36:8, “And every daughter that possesseth an inheritance in any tribe of the children of Israel, shall be wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father…” People say, “Well, Joseph came from David, but how do we know about Mary?” It’s telling you right here, he was to marry within the tribe, she was to marry within the tribe to get the inheritance. They were both related to David, in case you were wondering about that.

Now after she gets this declaration from the angel… The angel said, let’s go back to Luke chapter one. Mary said, “How can this be,” verse thirty-four, “since I have not known a man?” She’s not expressing doubt. She’s just saying, naturally, I’m engaged to Joseph, but we haven’t come together yet, and so how exactly is this going to happen? It’s a legitimate question. And the angel answers and says to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” Now, this is a great mystery. People debate this in the church. Even our general conference president commented on this subject about the nature of Christ. How many of you have heard discussions about the nature of Christ? And let me just simplify that for you as much as I can. When Jesus was born did He have the nature of Adam before Adam fell and before temptation? Adam and Eve were sinless before they sinned and they did not have any normal engrained propensity or inclination towards sin because they were motivated by love. Or did Jesus have the attributes of Adam’s nature after the fall? There’s been a big debate in the church over this and some say Jesus had the nature of Adam before the fall so He really didn’t have the attraction of sin that we had. Problem with that is then He’s not really our example on how to overcome because He’s born with this advantage, and if the Bible says He is tempted in all points as we are tempted yet without sin then He can be a faithful high priest. I’m of the opinion that Jesus took the nature that Adam had after the fall, but He was without sin. I know that there are some things about this that are a mystery. I concede that.

The Bible admits that. But why would the Bible go through all of the trouble to list the genealogy of Jesus with all of the sordid characters in His family tree, you know the history of some of those folks, if it had no bearing on His life? And if Jesus had the nature of Adam before the fall, how tall was Adam? Oh, eighteen, twenty feet maybe. How tall was Jesus? Do you think He was eighteen feet or closer to the average size of a man? So physically did He inherit the body of the people? Did He have any DNA from Mary? I believe He did. Could it be that when you look to Jesus and you looked at Mary you said you can’t deny there are some similarities? He was human and I think sometimes we try to make Him so divine that we forget that He does really relate to us. He is called our elder brother. There is that connection. So I’ve weighed in on that subject before and you know where Amazing Facts stands on that position, but that way, you know what that does? That tells us that Christ did not resist sin and temptation with anything that is not available to you and me. That means that He can provide us with the same victory that He had. It doesn’t set Him out there as so divine we can’t relate to Him. And He also, you know what else is important? The claim of the devil is that fallen people cannot obey and the reason Jesus obeyed is well, He had the unfallen nature of Adam, but by Jesus living a holy life, even though He was born with the fallen nature, He then disproves the claims of the devil. Did you get that? Otherwise you can’t disprove it; the devil’s accusations stand. So you and I can live godly lives. Alright. I’ve said enough about that.

So then after the angel tells her this in verse thirty-six, he says, “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.” Again you’re seeing a repeat of what happened in Abraham and Sarah in Zacharias and Elizabeth. So Mary wants to go and see Elizabeth. Now a little more genealogy, who is Elizabeth related to? She is of the daughters of Aaron. Aaron was from what tribe? Levi, the priesthood. David was from what tribe? Judah. So not only is Mary related to David, Mary evidently had some linkage to Aaron. You know some of them did intermarry over the generations and so Christ is related to Aaron as our priest, and He’s related to David as our king and the son of David. So she goes and she meets with Elizabeth, and let’s read about that. That is an amazing account here. She went to Elizabeth in verse 41, I’m still in Luke 1. “…it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary,” and she’s got to go from Nazareth to the hill country of Judea, “that the babe leaped in her womb…” Here is this old woman, she’s probably fifty-five, sixty years of age, she’s pregnant, and she’s got this baby and it jumps in her womb at the greeting of Mary, and Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and she makes this incredible prophetic declaration. Then you read in verse 46, “And Mary said: ‘My soul magnifies…’” This was confirmation of the miracle. If God could do this for Elizabeth then He really was going to keep His word and she was now going to give birth to this prophetic Son, this Messiah.

I just did a search on the Internet. Let me read this to you. I typed in Christmas songs. I don’t know if you ever tried that, Debbie. I know you had a Christmas program the other day. One million, nine hundred and seventy thousand hits on Google if you type in “Christmas songs”. Well, you want to hear one of the first Christmas songs, even before the angels, it’s the song of Mary. She sings this song and by the way, Mary’s great ancestor, Miriam, her namesake, was Miriam a prophetess? Was Mary a prophetess? Well, something she says in the Bible, is it inspired by the Holy Spirit? Have you ever thought about that? And then Mary utters the words of this song here, verse 46, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.” That’s why they pick the name Mary and not the name Jezebel. “For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly. 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 seed forever.” It’s interesting she ends her song with Abraham and his seed. What does she now have in her? The promised seed of Abraham is the end of her song. Something else, if you ever mark in your Bible take your pencil, go through Mary’s song and you know what comes out more than anything? “He, He, He…” She’s not singing about herself. She could be prancing up and down the street saying, “I’m going to have the Messiah! I was chosen, not you!” She doesn’t have that attitude, does she? Talk about something to brag about. Women who are pregnant sometimes are happy they’re going to be mothers. They feel good about that, but Mary’s whole emphasis was on God. Circle how many times she refers to God in her song of adoration and exaltation of God.

So now she’s pregnant. Of course the angel communicates with Joseph. They have a quick wedding. Joseph was going to put her away, but the angel says, “No, you’ve got to trust. She’s going to have a baby of the Holy Spirit.” Then through the providence of politics they’ve got to go to Bethlehem from Nazareth to register for a tax. Jesus was probably not born during December. This is as good a time as any because we don’t know the exact date, probably in the fall. Several reasons I could give you from the Bible. One is the Caesar would never issue a census where people had to travel all over his kingdom in the coldest time of the year when there is no food in the fields. They even used to plan their wars so they could sustain their armies when there’d be food in the fields. The climate in Israel, I’ve been there several times, is very much like Northern California. Cold this morning, wasn’t it? How many of you scraped ice off your car today on the way? Shepherds are not out in the fields with their flocks during this time of year. And for some other reasons we know, Jesus died during the spring. It says He ministered three and a half years. You go back three and a half years from the Passover and it takes you to the fall. So they had to make this journey and being great with child whether she sat on a donkey, probably sat some and rode some and who knows? But that must have been a grueling seventy mile trip without rapid transit down from Nazareth to Bethlehem. It’s amazing how the Bible promised that this child would be born in Bethlehem and they weren’t even living there when the angel came. God worked all of that out. Now in the Bible it refers to her as a virgin. Remember the angel was sent to a virgin named Mary. We’ve heard a lot about the virgin Mary, but there is a prophecy in the Bible, Isaiah 7:14, “…the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” which means God with us.

Now whenever I talk about Mary, I’ve got to be honest with you, I feel a little conflicted. You know why? Because Mary is a Bible character that really deserves our attention and our study, but there are a few churches that deify Mary and so whenever I talk about Mary I kind of feel like, “Boy, this is such a wonderful character study from the Bible!” but then I feel like I’ve got to stop and say, “I hope you’re not going to go out of here and start buying Mary shrines and sticking them with Velcro to the dash of your car.” So you understand there’s this little paradox when you talk about Mary, you almost have to explain to people why she was chosen of God and a tremendous character in the Bible. I expect to see her in the kingdom. She is not to be venerated and revered as a goddess. Some of our Roman Catholic friends have been debating whether it is really instead of the holy trinity, it’s the holy quartet, about whether they should exalt Mary just a little bit further and she’ll be on the level of God. They tell people to pray to Mary of course.

How many of you understand the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception? I used to think the Immaculate Conception was talking about Jesus being born of Mary. That’s not what it’s about. It’s Mary’s birth. They say that Mary was born in the womb of her mother but was not tainted by sin, was not tainted by original sin. Let me read it from the Catholic Encyclopedia. The Immaculate Conception, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, teaches the conception of Mary, her birth and her mother. “The mother of Jesus was without any stain of original sin in her mother’s womb. It is further believed” listen “that she lived a life completely free from sin.” I’ve got problems with that. Mary may have been a godly, good woman, but how many humans are sinless? Only one lived a sinless life, that’s Jesus. The Bible makes it very clear, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God…” That would include Daniel, John the Baptist, Elijah, Elisha, and Mary. I mean, these are some saints, I agree, holy men and women, but she was a human and she did sin. She needed the redemptive sacrifice of her Child as much as you do. Isn’t that interesting? Jesus who was born in her had to recreate her just like He recreates us. Isn’t that mind-blowing when you think about it? Started out as a birth within, a miraculous birth within, and then it was demonstrated without and she had to look to the cross the same way you and I look to the cross. You see Mary going through this metamorphosis in her experience of her life, having to make that distinction.

So we’ve talked a little about her genealogy. They finally get to Bethlehem, and you know the story. I think it’s wonderful when you consider that Jesus Who is the bread of life was born in a town called Bethlehem house of bread and then he’s placed in a box for holding grain, bread, that’s a manger. So here you’ve got the Bread of Life born in the house of bread placed in a box for bread, and there was no room in the inn because most of the world has no room for Christ. He came unto His own; His own received Him not, further evidence that they were not very wealthy. Even though that was a very humble event as far as the world is concerned. I would not have done things like that if I was God the Father. With my fallen viewpoint if I was going to send my son into the world you would naturally think that it would have been with all of this fanfare and trumpets blowing and parades and like the coronation of a king, but it was so unobtrusive and so quiet and so humble that it just tells you about the meekness of Jesus in how He entered the world.

After this experience of the birth of Christ… Some of these things you’ve heard so many years that I want to try and focus on some of the points about Mary that are often neglected and missed. You read next about Him in Luke 2:34. Eight days after He was born, they’re in Bethlehem, not far, it’s about seven miles away from Jerusalem. It’s very interesting if you get National Geographic, one of the cover articles in National Geographic this month is dealing with modern Bethlehem and how things have changed. In the opening sentence it says something to the effect if Joseph and Mary came to Bethlehem today they wouldn’t recognize it because there basically has been a great concrete wall that has been built between Jerusalem and Bethlehem because Bethlehem which used to be ninety percent Christian is now thirty percent Christian and seventy percent Muslim because of the political dynamics that are going on right now.

So they brought Him from Bethlehem eight days later and then had Him registered in the temple. Alright, before I go any farther as we talk more about Mary and this portrait of Mary, what does a woman represent? You’ve heard me say it a hundred times, but we always have visitors, there’s always new people watching. Prophetically, symbolically, what does a woman represent in the Bible? A church. Mary is a type of the church in this sense. If I was Jesus and I was going to pick a mother I’d want a mother who was going to take me to church. She and Joseph took Him to the temple. They took Him to church where He was dedicated there. Now in our church we dedicate children when they’re young. They don’t have to be eight days old, but we dedicate children. That’s different from baptism. Dedication is the parents’ choice. Baptism must be the individual’s choice. We don’t believe it’s appropriate to baptize babies because they need to first repent from their sins and believe and confess and all of these things that babies obviously cannot do. So they brought Him to the temple and while they’re there at the temple, they bring Him to church; there is Simon who as a priest in the temple had been told by the Holy Spirit the Messiah was going to come, that he would see it.

He said to Mary His mother, now this is the child. He says, “Lord, now let Your servant depart in peace. I have seen Your salvation…” I wish I had time to read the whole prophetic utterance of Simon and that experience with Mary, but one thing he says in his statement. He tells Mary. He blesses them, but he says to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is set for the fall and the rising again of many in Israel and for a sign which will be spoken against. Yes...” In other words, there’s going to be resistance, there’s going to be persecution, there’ll be opposition to Who He is. “Yes, a sword will pierce through thine own soul that the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed.” Again, I could take a detour right now and talk about a sword in Bible prophesies. A sword is a symbol for the word. Jesus tells us that we need the sword of His word going in, sharper than any two-edged sword that cuts us and convicts us and helps also to make advances for Christ. The sword of the word is how we conquer for Christ. Jesus is seen in Revelation with a sword coming from His mouth. It’s a symbol for the word of God. One time the disciple said, “Lord…” Jesus said, “He that has a sword let him take it.” They said, “We’ve got two swords here.” He said, “You don’t get it. Enough of this.”

People think he said, “Oh, that’s enough. We can take on the Roman army with two swords.” That’s not what He meant. He said, “You’re not getting it. I’m speaking symbolically.” So when Simon said, “The sword will pierce your own soul.” The truth of the word of God that her child was going to die… See, the Jews had this popular belief, and Mary even was hoping, that He was going to just take the throne of David and that she’d be sitting there like the mother of Solomon on… Remember Solomon set down a throne by his throne for Bathsheba his mother. And that Mary was going to sit down next to Jesus who would be on the throne of David then there’d be all of this glory, and the word of God was saying, no, that’s not how the Messiah comes the first time. So that sword, that truth pierced her own soul that, no, He’s coming first as a lamb before He reigns like a lion and that He was going to have to die. That the thoughts of many hearts might be revealed, the word of God convicts and brings those truths out.

That experience through the episode, of course the shepherds come, the wise men come, and the angel after the wise men says to Joseph and Mary, “You’d better leave town and you’d better leave fast because there’s the clatter of Roman sandals coming up the cobblestone streets to slaughter all of the baby boys in Bethlehem.” She and Joseph and that little tribe of children that they had had to very quickly get out of town. Joseph probably took some of the gold and frankincense and myrrh and went to the local pawnbroker and said, “I need some money because we need to get a ticket, fastest donkey out of Bethlehem.” They had to make that journey down there to Egypt.

Now another parallel. You’ve got Mary, Miriam, in Egypt preserving the savior. Do you see the parallels between Mary and her Old Testament counterpart Miriam who she was named after probably? So they flee and they take Him down to Egypt where there He is preserved in Egypt in the same way that Miriam preserved Moses there. Was there an attempt to kill Jesus when He was a baby? Was there an attempt to kill all of the baby boys in Egypt when Moses was a baby? There are so many parallels there, it is fascinating. I don’t know why people doubt the word of God. I mean, here Moses wrote this in Genesis fifteen hundred years before Jesus was born, this experience. We know last week the Amazing Facts evangelists were in San Diego and there is a display down there. You might run down there tomorrow if you can go to San Diego. It’s on the Dead Sea Scrolls. They’ve actually got some copies of the scrolls on display and it was very inspiring going through and you’re looking at fragments that date back before the time of Christ that are reciting the Ten Commandments from Deuteronomy and from Exodus and how the word of God you know that it existed before these things happened and there the fulfillment of the prophesies are right there.

They had passages dating back before Christ that perfectly described Christ and His ministry not only that are in scriptures, but that are in the writings of the Dead Sea Scrolls, some extra-biblical texts about the Messiah. Matter of fact, Jesus quotes from one of them when He says to the messenger, go back to John the Baptist. I’m rambling right now, I know. But it’s so exciting when you think about the connection between what happened in the Old Testament and the New Testament and how perfect it was how can we doubt that Jesus was the messiah that was spoken of? And then Mary has this incredible… finally they get word that Herod the Great is dead; it’s safe to go back. They don’t feel real safe staying in Judea because Herod’s bloodthirsty son is there and so they go up back to Galilee and return to Nazareth and Mary now has the charge… Jesus is probably three, four years old by the time they leave Egypt. She’s got the charge of teaching the Son. Again, I reject some of the notions I hear. You know they make these movies about it and I read some of the pastors what they have to say that Mary was ignorant fifteen year old girl, couldn’t read or write. I don’t believe that, friends. I think that she was very educated, she could read. You know it was not common during the eighteenth century for women to study theology, but Suzanna Wesley whose father was a pastor was extremely educated and she had, I forget sometimes, what was it? Thirteen children or nineteen children? Huh? Nineteen children, and many of them became pastors and they learned it from their mother. She was a voracious reader and a student. She married a pastor and she knew twice as much as her pastor husband. Mary, I think, was very educated. It wasn’t common for the girls to go to the synagogues where the boys were taught, but they might learn to read at home from their fathers so they were allowed to do this.

One reason I say that is a quote from the book Desire of Ages. Can you imagine given the responsibility of raising and training and teaching the Messiah? How seriously would you take raising your children? But let me ask this question, why should it be any different? Ah, well, I’m just raising your typical sinner. I don’t need to worry about it. I mean, that’s probably not the right attitude. “With deep earnestness,” this is Desire of Ages, “the mother of Jesus watched the unfolding of His powers and beheld the impress of perfection upon His character. With delight she sought to encourage that bright, receptive mind. Through the Holy Spirit she received wisdom to cooperate with heavenly agencies in the development of this Child who would claim only God as His Father.” But you know you and I can do that with our children, ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in their training. I’m not done. “The child Jesus did not receive instruction in the synagogue schools. His mother was His first human teacher. From her lips and from the scrolls of the prophets…” Do you think Mary could read? “…He learned of heavenly things. The very words which He Himself had spoken to Moses for Israel He is now taught at His mother’s knee.” Did you ever think about that? Here is Jesus sitting at His mother’s knee hearing His mother rehearse what He had given to Moses. I thought this was mind-blowing when you think about how the circle goes around in this way. So Mary is a faithful teacher. She is obviously a very bright woman, a very dedicated woman. She tried to not only teach by word but by example the Son of God. She must have done a good job. She wasn’t sinless, we know that, but she was a good mother.

Then He gets a little older, twelve years old, time to go to the temple with Dad. Luke 2:48 on their way to the temple they become busy visiting with family. They used to go kind of in a parade, a crowd, they’d take this big pilgrimage, they’d go to the temple for the feast. Jesus is finally old enough to go. Mary and Joseph trust Jesus. He’s not one of these kids who as soon as you turn your head you wonder where He is, you’ve got to look for Him, He’s always in trouble in some dark corner somewhere. They could trust Him and so because they could trust Him because He was so obedient and compliant (and don’t you all wish you had a child like that?), they kind of lost track of Him. And when it came time to, the feast was over, to head back up to Nazareth, they just assumed that He was somewhere with some of their kin, some of their family. The procession had left. They didn’t see him right away, but it was a big throng and people were eating along the way. They got a day and a half into their journey before they’re starting to frantically search and realize, “We went to church, a big religious feast, and we don’t know where Jesus is anywhere.” They’d lost track of Him, and they had to retrace their steps in Mary’s words, sorrowing, wondering. Can you imagine being committed the Son of God, you’ve got the national treasure and you lose it? She lost the national treasure. Finally they find Him, where? In the temple, sitting at the feet of all of the scholars both listening and asking them questions, profound questions that just threw them for a loop that this child could be so perceptive and so intuitive. They found Him. They were amazed, and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us?”

Now, He was her Son, but He’s getting ready to answer her in a way that will capture her attention. “Why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously. You’re supposed to stay with us. We’re your parents!” Well, something happens for a Jewish boy when he turns twelve years old. I don’t know what happened, friends, but in the last two thousand years it went from twelve to thirteen. Now Jewish boys are bar mitzvahed at thirteen, but in the Bible time it was twelve which is a nice, round number for the church. And so when He turned twelve, and He went to the temple, He was beginning to become recognized as a man. He is now also letting His mother and father know, our relationship is changing. I am your child, I have been committed to your care, but now I understand My responsibility to My heavenly Father. When He went to the Passover when He was twelve years old, it dawned on His mind when He saw the lamb slain what His life calling was so that’s part of why His answer said, “Why did you seek me? Do you not know I must be about My Father’s business? My primary calling in this world now is not My submission to My earthly father and mother, but I have a submission to My heavenly Father.” He was reminding them, “I’m yours, but I’m not really yours. I am the Son of God. Yes, I’m your son, but I am the Son of God. Joseph is my father, but I have another Father.” That must have been an epiphany for Mary and Joseph to be reminded of that.

Think about this too. I can’t rush past this story. Mary and Joseph good, you’d all want them in your church, religious. They go to church, religious festival, they leave church and they go through it all and you know what? They lose Jesus in the process. They forget all about Jesus. I wonder if it’s possible for us today to go through all the religious motions and the fanfare of the services and the ceremony and go to church and leave church and forget all about Jesus in the process. Pastors can do it, we can get so involved in the service and the program and trying to get everything to work out that you go and you come and you leave and you say, “Did I forget something? Ah, Jesus. I forgot about Jesus, the person, the real living Jesus, I left Him there at the church.” Don’t do that, friends. When you leave today, don’t leave Jesus here, take Him with you. Amen? You missed a cue. That was the best amen opportunity in the whole service.

Then He gets a little older now. He’s baptized. He says, “Mom, I feel my calling.” He’s baptized at the Jordan River by John the Baptist. She says, “Oh, great.” He’s going to begin His ministry. They go to a wedding feast not far from Nazareth, a place called Cana, the third day of the wedding, they would last a week there, they did not plan well, too many people showed up uninvited to the wedding. That sometimes happens today. They did not sign the RSVP and they run out of wine. His disciples were there and Jesus’ mother comes to Him and she says, “They have no wine.” He says, “Woman…” That is not a disrespectful term in the Bible. I know if many of you husbands referred to your wife, and say, “Woman!” that would not be received well, but in the Bible when Jesus said woman its equivalent was Madam. It was a term of respect. He says, “Madam, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” Now in referring to her as woman, while it is respectful, it’s distant. Meaning He didn’t say mommy. He could have said Mother. He didn’t say that. He said woman.

So some of these churches that venerate Mary that if we want to get Jesus’ attention, you go to Jesus through Mary because after all that’s His mom. Jesus went out of His way during His earthly life to explain yes, she is the holy vehicle through whom I was chosen to come. I’m not saying she was sinless, but I’m really for all people. She’s a sinner. She needs My salvation as much as anyone does. I think sometimes that’s forgotten. My hour is not yet come. His mother said to his servants. She knew by the tone of His voice that He was going to help. He said, Look, Mom I’ll help, but this is not what you think. I’m not going to take the throne of David. That’s why she says to the servants, “Do whatever He tells you to do.” He was getting ready to do something. Now what does wine represent? Isn’t it interesting that one of the first things that happened in the ministry of Christ is He works a miracle turning water into wine, the best wine, pure grape juice? Best did not mean the highest alcohol content, it meant the best quality. The last thing that happens when Jesus is on the cross is they give Him sour wine so His ministry begins by giving at a wedding pure wine to humans. At the end humans, sinners give Him sour wine when He’s on the cross. It’s a symbol for the blood of the covenant. Do you remember what He said? Take this, it’s a symbol of My blood which is shed for you. His whole life was about a blood transfusion. He takes our sin; He gives us His purity. Mary is a type of the church here. She says do whatever He says. You know what? That ought to be the message of the church for the world, listen to Him. Do what He says. Oh, I could go on and on talking about this. It’s in the context of servants. What is Mary thinking about? Herself? Or the need of others? They’re thirsty, they’ve run out of a necessity and she’s interested in supplying their need.

Then you go on here, and Mary wants her Son’s attention, Luke 8, it’s establishing priorities. He’s possibly in Peter’s house teaching. The crowd has crunched Him in. A message comes to Jesus, “Then came to Him His mother and His brethren, and could not come at Him for the press…” this crowd that’s all around Him. “And it was told him by certain” the word was passed in, a slip of paper, which said, Your mother and Your brothers are outside, they want to talk to You. What does Jesus say? He looks around, and He motions to the crowd, and He says, “My mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and they do it.” What else is He doing? Is He establishing that priority again that His mother, Mary, while she had that holy position, He’s now got a priority for reaching the people of the world? What does He say about the word of God? That’s the priority.

Now I’m going to rush ahead because I see the clock here. John 19:25 Mary was His mother, but she slowly is transitioning into something of also His follower. She’s recognizing through His ministry and His teaching that He’s got a broad calling, that His Father is God the Father, but there at the cross she’s there. John 19:25, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.” Isn’t that interesting? There at the cross you’ve got Mary, Mary, Mary. If the word Mary does mean love, that would have been interesting because Jesus said to Peter, “Do you love Me? Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” and there is that devotion of three women at the cross all named Mary. Can you imagine how hard that must have been for her to stay and watch that? She had such glorious expectations for Jesus to be on the throne of David. Another quote from the book Desire of Ages, 744, “The mother of Jesus supported by John the beloved disciple had followed the steps of Her son to Calvary. She’d seen Him fainting under the burden of the cross. She longed to place a supporting hand beneath His wounded head and to bathe that brow which had once been pillowed upon her bosom, but she was not permitted that mournful privilege.

With the disciples she still cherished the hope that Jesus would manifest His power, He would deliver Himself from His enemies. Again her heart would sink as she recalled the words in which had been foretold the very scenes that were taking place. As the thieves were bound to the cross, she looked on with agonizing suspense. Would He who had given life to the dead suffer Himself to be crucified?” Even Mary still at the cross didn’t realize what was going to happen. “Would the Son of God suffer Himself to be thus cruelly slain? Must she witness His shame and sorrow without even the privilege of ministering to Him in His distress? She saw His hand stretched upon the cross, the hammer and the nails were brought, and the spikes were driven through the tender flesh. The heart-stricken disciples bore away from the cruel scene the fainting form of the mother of Jesus.” Can you imagine the devastation? That’s what Simon meant when he said, “A sword will pierce your own soul.” Evidently she revives. He’s on the cross for hours after the crucifixion. A few hours later John brings her back again. They’re right at the feet of the cross. Jesus can look down. He sees His mother through the sweat and the blood in His eyes. “And when Jesus therefore saw His mother,” still in John 19, now verse 26, “and the disciple standing by, whom he loved,” that would be John, “He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold thy son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold thy mother!’” You know it’s worthy of mention, the Gospel of John begins by saying, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.” All through the first chapter of John it’s about beholding and seeing. If I am lifted up, why? Position of visibility. I will draw… And here one of the last statements on the cross, when He says, “Woman, behold thy son!” Who does Mary represent? The church. Who is the church supposed to behold? It’s an appeal. Woman, I’m saying it to you again today, behold thy Son. And then again, son, behold thy mother. He’s also telling us that John was to then take Mary. This is Jesus’ last will and testament. It’s His last bequest. What did He have to leave? They’d already taken His robes and gambled for that. The only thing left to take care of in His will is His mother. I don’t know about you, but if I was on the cross going through that I’d probably be so preoccupied with my own suffering I’d forget that detail, but He loved His mother so much, He took care of her.

Now we get to the last references of Mary. I’m just about time. Evidently Mary was not at the tomb. Mary Magdalene was there, Mary the wife of Clopas, and others, but Mary is never mentioned as being at the tomb when they buried Him. But she was in the upper room when Jesus appeared. Now who is taking care of Mary after Jesus dies? John. The night of the resurrection, Luke 24:33, it talks about the road to Emmaus. Those two disciples go to the upper room. They return to Jerusalem, and they found the eleven, eleven who? Eleven apostles, and those who were there gathered together with them. This is the last reference that you find. Mary was in the upper room. Can you imagine her joy? In both John 20:19 it says Jesus stood in their midst, and in Luke chapter 24 in both places He says, Peace, and there was great rejoicing among the disciples when they saw Him alive. Who do you think was the happiest of all? Can you imagine how difficult that weekend must have been for Mary? Talk about… It’s amazing she survived the broken heart of that week after Christ was crucified. Now when she actually sees Him again and He says all hail and they all come and they worship Him, can you imagine her joy?

And then the last reference we find of Mary is Acts, chapter 1, verse 14, it says, “These all continued…” when the Holy Spirit is poured out in the upper room it tells us that Mary was there. “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” His mother became His follower. His mother became a disciple. Now that’s really something when you trace, we’ve just done a quick overview, each one of these could have been a whole series. Taking it from Mary being chosen that this miracle should happen and Christ should be born in her, and then over the course of her experience she ends up being transformed in the process, and the One who she is nurturing ends up nurturing her. That’s sort of the way it happens with us. When you have a new birth experience, you grow on the milk of the word, you nurture Christ within you and it becomes something where it transforms your whole life, then instead of just receiving Him you become a disciple. We find Mary at the beginning receiving Christ; we find her at the end proclaiming Christ, and she understands now what the relationship is.

Well, I don’t even know how to tie this off except to say I hope that all of us can have that experience of Christ in us as Mary did. It was a miracle. We can’t understand how Jesus could become born in a human like that, but that same miracle happens every time with a conversion. When you accept Christ the Holy Spirit begins a new birth in us. Would you like to have that new birth in you? It’s real. It happened then. It will happen now. That’s a good lead in for our closing song. What is it? 316? Do I have that right? Yeah, “Live Out Thy Life Within Me”. Why don’t we stand together? 316.

Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings! Be Thou Thyself the answer To all my questionings; Live out Thy life within me, In all things have Thy way! I, the transparent medium Thy glory to display.

The temple has been yielded, And purified of sin; Let Thy Shekinah glory Now shine forth from within, And all the earth keep silence, The body henceforth be Thy silent, gentle servant,

Moved only as by Thee.

In a moment we’re going to sing the last verse to this song, but I was thinking it would be appropriate to offer you an opportunity to respond even though you might be thinking, well, Pastor Doug, isn’t this the regular scheduled Christmas message? No, there’s more to come, but it is really a gospel story. It’s the story about how somebody could be chosen by God, a miracle of the Holy Spirit moving into their lives to then transform them from the inside out. Her whole life is really a model for what we should follow. Going to the church, exalting Him, being a disciple, service, that’s all modeled in these examples that we’ve seen. I’d like to learn from this story, from the portrait of Mary, that I might have and invite Jesus being born in me. Is that your desire? I believe there are probably some of you who here today and the Holy Spirit has been working and you’d like to have that holiness in your life that Mary experienced. If you have some special need and you’d like to bring that to the Lord then as we sing the last verse, come, and we’ll have prayer for you at the conclusion of this message.

But restful, calm, and pliant, From bend and bias free, Awaiting Thy decision, When Thou has need of me. Live out Thy life within me, O Jesus, King of kings! Be Thou the glorious answer To all my questionings.

Loving Lord, this is our prayer: we need You in our hearts and minds. Sometimes we can make the mistake of Mary where we think that it is by virtue of our genealogy where simply because we’re going through the ritual of coming to church that we have the miracle of You living within and it’s possible to lose track, Lord. I pray that we can all have that epiphany that You’re willing to be born in us, but we must guard that relationship, we must nurture it, we must feed it and then we must also proclaim it. Lord, I pray that we can experience the same surrender that Mary had and the same joy that she had when she saw You alive after the resurrection. Be with so that we can proclaim that good news that others can have that experience of new life within. I pray as we go from this place that we will remember to take Jesus with us. This we ask in His name. Amen.

God bless you. You might be seated. Don’t forget, next Friday night we’ve got the men’s chorus. For Family Sabbath School, Sabbath School, church, we’ll not only have a message, but we’ve got a wonderful music extravaganza and then the Fountainview concert at 2:30. God bless you, and happy Sabbath.

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Unveiling the Kings of Israel by David Down

Unveiling the Kings of Israel by David Down
God's Promises




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