Pastor Barry/ The Gathering: Jesus Not Jive (The Heart of Christmas Series/ #5 Conclusion)To hear this message and others go to THEGATHERINGHG.COM
Sermon Springboard: Mary Did You Know ? (lyrics by Mark Lowry and music by Buddy Greene). Originally recorded by Christian recording artist Michael English on his self-titled debut solo album in 1991 (English and Lowry were both members of the Gaither Vocal Band at the time).
What Did Mary Know? Luke 1:26-38, 2:1-19, Matthew 1:18-21
The song, Mary Did You Know? Was first written as a poem by Mark Lowry after talking with his mother about what Mary might not have known about her baby, Jesus. At that time he did not know that the words he wrote would one day become the greatest contemporary Christmas song of our modern day. As humans we never really know very much. The Bible tells us that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), but although we may bear the visible likeness of the invisible God we certainly lack His omni-qualities. God is omnipresent (present everywhere), omnipotent (all powerful), and omniscient (all knowing). We are none of these things. We simply develop gradually over a period of time. We start life as a simple and dependent little baby, grow into childhood, burst into puberty and develop into physical adults and hopefully also mature emotionally, mentally, and spiritually as well. Of course that is largely dependent upon who it is that raised us and the choices we make in life. God chose Mary and Joseph to raise Jesus, but as Jesus himself would later tell them both (at age twelve), God was His father and He was all about His father’s business (Luke 2:49).
Mary most certainly did not know that Jesus would one day walk on water, raise the dead or die on a cross for your, my and her sins. She only knew for sure that 1.) an angel appeared to her (Luke 1:28) and also to Joseph (Matthew 2:20-21) , 2.) that she was a virgin (Luke 1:34) and that she 3.) gave birth to a son who was no ordinary child. She also knew by the word of the shepherds and Joseph that 4.) the baby she bore was the promised Messiah (Luke 2:11) who would one day “save his people from their sins”(Matthew 1:21).
Messiah: the promised deliverer of the Jewish nation prophesied in the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament).
Mary did not know very much, but “she treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19) and Mary proclaimed herself to be “the Lord’s servant” and vowed to fulfill God’s word in her life (Luke 1:38), and she did!
What Do We Know? Romans 1:16-20, Hebrews 12:1-3
What do we know today about Jesus? We know far more now than Mary ever knew in her lifetime on this earth. I should say that we all have the opportunity to know more than Mary ever knew about Jesus. We have the Bible. Some of you actually read it. A smaller portion of you actually study it, and a smaller portion of you still actually memorize it. 1.) We have the Bible and Mary did not! We have the entire Old Testament verified in accuracy and age by the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947 (excluding only the book of Esther). These books include over 300 prophecies concerning the Messiah that have all been fulfilled in the person of Jesus. See detail at: https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog-and-stories/old-testament-prophecies.html
Additional prophesies concerning world events, kingdoms and rulers, and science and technology have also come to pass.
We have the New Testament which includes eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection by His disciples (apostles) Matthew and John. We also have in it written accounts of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection by early missionaries Mark and Luke, the history of the first church and many letters written by the apostle Paul. We also have two letters from Jesus’ disciple (apostle) Peter, four from John (disciple/ apostle) and one letter from His brother James. In the Bible we have many witnesses of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. There is no record in the Bible that Mary ever saw Jesus in His resurrected body. She, like us, would have heard from many who witnessed His resurrection and believed on faith. We have these historical written accounts in the Bible. Mary, like the apostles and the many who have believed in the gospel, left this earth with faith in the Resurrected Christ. Jesus made both them and Mary new. The child that she delivered also delivered her from sin. The Apostle Paul exclaimed that he was not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation (Romans 1:16-20). God has revealed Himself clearly in both creation and His word so that no one has an excuse not to believe in Jesus.
Unlike Mary, we also know of the 2.) world wide spread of the Gospel (good news) of Christ and the many lives that He has changed throughout history. Jesus has continued to make a life changing impact in billions of people who have believed on His name and follow His teachings. This “cloud of witnesses” testifies to the truth of Christ and should help us “run the race” of faith in this life (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Christmas John 3:16
Lastly, 3.) The world knows about and celebrates Christmas every year! Now Mary likely remembered Jesus’ birthday every year, but she didn’t celebrate it like the world does today, and she certainly didn’t understand the eternal consequences of it until after He resurrected. Jesus never told His disciples to remember His birthday. He told us to remember his death (through communion: Luke 22:7-23, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25) and His resurrection and ours through baptism:
We were therefore buried with Jesus through baptism into death; in order that,just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may live a new life! Romans 6:4
But we do remember His birthday every year although we’re off on the month (it was likely in August or early September). Christmas has become one of God’s great reminders to mankind that He is still reaching out in Love (John 3:16).
No Jive John 3:17-21, John 1:1:12-14
No matter what unbelievers will try and make of it, Christmas always comes up Jesus! The Heart of Christmas is 1.) not in the presents, but in His presence, 2.) not in romance, but in a relationship with Christ, 3.) not even in family, but in fellowship with God and eternal life with the family of God. My Christmas message will not end in “jive” (what is deceitful or worthless). Jesus is the reason for the season and we must receive Christ as Lord to know His salvation. Light has come into the world (John 3:19)… Mary knew it and we know it better! Mankind is without excuse. Won’t you become a “child of God?” (John 1:12-14)