The Birth of Jesus Foretold to Mary and Joseph

Title: The Birth of Jesus Foretold to Mary and Joseph

Text: Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-38

Time: December 12th, 2004

Some pretty incredible things happened around the birth of Jesus, and we just saw the angel’s announcement to Mary, which was pretty incredible if you think about it. Mary, and Joseph, both, were believing Jews. They had faith, but what God did was above and beyond anything they had experienced before or were prepared for. How many believers ever see and hear an angel? Not many. Some, but not many. How many believers see the kind of miracles that Jesus brought with him to the world? Not many. So what happened with Mary and Joseph was that they were challenged by God to believe greater than they had ever believed before. They were called by God to step out of the realm of ordinary faith and enter into supernatural faith. We are going to look at what a challenge that was for them, but also we are challenged by God today to leave behind the ordinary faith, the kind that most people have, the kind that prompts people to pray a little, to go to church a little, to read the Bible a little, to believe a little, but nothing more. God is challenging us today to leave ordinary faith and step into supernatural faith like Mary and Joseph. Why? Because ordinary faith isn’t much faith at all if you think about it. If you ask most people they would tell you they believe in God or a God. That’s nothing special. It’s better than atheism, but it’s not all that unusual. And if you ask most people if they pray or ever have prayed, they’ll say “Sure.” So that’s not so unusual either. Same with the Bible. If you ask most people if they’ve ever read from the Bible they’ll tell you they have. Nothing special there. And if you ask most people if they’ve ever gone to church, same thing, they’ll say yea, but that’s not so different. But what God is trying to do is challenge us to go deeper in faith than typical, ordinary faith. He challenged Mary and Joseph to something more and He’s challenging us today to something more. Let’s find out what that means.

First, God challenged Mary to believe something more than she’d ever believed before. Look at Luke 1:26-38. (read). That’s a lot to give to a teenage girl. How old was Mary at the time? Probably still in her teens, maybe even her early teen-age years. Did she have faith in God? Yes, like all good Jewish girls. Like all Jews, she was raised by strict Jewish standards of belief and conduct. She was taught the basic beliefs of the Jews – belief in one God, Creation, the Fall into Sin, the Miracles of Genesis, Abraham, Moses, King David, the Prophets, the Old Testament. And like all Jews, she was praying for the coming of the Messiah. Then suddenly an angelic being visited her and appeared, and didn’t just appeared, the angel spoke. And what the angel said was incredible also, that she would give birth to the Messiah of God. So all at once, Mary is challenged to believe supernaturally. To believe that she really did see an angel from God, that she heard an incredible message from the angel, and that she would be the mother of the Messiah. This was not a typical day for Mary. This was a once-in-a-lifetime day that challenged her to a supernatural faith. To which she responded to the angel in Luke 1:38: “May it be to me as you have said.” She accepted the challenge to believe above the ordinary. She agreed to believe supernaturally. But what about her fiancé Joseph? What would he do? Let’s find out.

Second, God challenges Joseph to believe something greater than he’d ever believed before also. Look at Matthew 1: 18-25. (read). At first, when Mary tells Joseph of the angel’s message he doesn’t believe it. In fact, he thought the part about the angel telling Mary she would bear the Messiah through the Holy Spirit, he thought that was just a way to say that she was going to have a child and Joseph wasn’t the father. He didn’t believe her. You see, he was operating on normal, ordinary faith. Why should he believe Mary’s story? He was a believer in God, as a good Jew. He also believed in the miracle stories of the Bible, Moses parting the Red Sea, Joshua blowing the trumpet at Jericho and the walls falling down, the miracles of David with Goliath (not the cartoon Davey and Goliath), etc. But on an ordinary level of faith miracles just don’t happen all that much, at least they didn’t to Joseph. So when Mary told him the angel’s words, he didn’t believe it. Would you have? It wasn’t enough for him to believe supernaturally. But then something happened. What? Joseph had a dream, and in the dream an angel spoke to him and told him to take Mary as his wife because the child was from God. What was Joseph’s response? Verse 24 says, “When Joseph awoke he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him.” His response to the challenge to believe greater things was to take the step of faith. Now where does that leave us today? Let’s get to that part.

Third, God is challenging us today, during the Christmas season of 2004, to believe in him and embrace the Christian faith in a greater way than ever before. If we remain at just a normal, ordinary faith level in our lives we will actually fall backwards. Why? Because we face more and more temptations every day and in different forms. If we don’t move forward with faith in Jesus we will drift backwards. Marriages are under attack today in society. Our culture teaches us false things about marriage and commitment and relationships. If we don’t have a supernatural faith in God our marriages won’t make it, or we will go down the foolish path of living together before marriage. That’s sin by the way if you don’t know it. Check the Bible. But it’s popular and people think it makes sense. But it’s sin. Getting marriage quickly and casually and then divorcing is sin, but, that’s what the society and culture teaches people to do. Without real supernatural faith your marriage won’t last, or you’ll live together in sin, or mess up some other relationship. We need supernatural faith, not just ordinary faith. We need supernatural faith to avoid depression and other psychological disorders. Counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists are getting rich because people are losing their minds. The pressures of modern life cause people to crack, flip out, lose it, and go crazy. I once knew a young woman, only 25, who married quickly and divorced even quicker. It really messed her up so bad she checked herself into a psych ward of a mental institution and stayed there over a month. She believed in God, she believed in Jesus, but just ordinary faith won’t cut it today. We need something more, real supernatural faith. Do you have supernatural faith? Look at Mary, look at Joseph. They believed something beyond their brains. Sometimes God calls us to believe and do things that don’t make sense to our minds. Prayer for example. God says pray first, then do. Our culture, our society says to just do it (like Nike commercial says). How can spending 15 minutes to ½ hour a day praying help? The mind doesn’t like prayer. Have you ever noticed that? It’s rebelling the whole time I pray. But God says pray. So a supernatural faith prays, whether the mind likes it our not. Same with reading form the Bible. The brain likes reading a little, but not too much from the Bible. It would rather read some book or magazine or newspaper. So it takes supernatural faith to read the Bible on a regular basis. Same with obeying God’s will in our lives. The mind hates to be told what to do, even if it’s God telling us. But supernatural faith obeys God anyway whether it makes sense or not. Isn’t it about time you started living with a greater faith in God? That’s what it all boils down to, having a greater faith. We don’t obey God because we don’t really have that much faith in what he teaches us. We still have this foolish idea that some other way is better. Isn’t that what sin is? Thinking some other way is better. Why not make this Christmas season the time you decided you will have real, supernatural faith.

Let’s pray.


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