Christmas, The Season of Miracles

Title: Christmas, The Season of Miracles

Text: Matthew 1:18-25

Time: December 6th, 2006

This is the third week in the Christmas season sermon series of 2006, and so I’d like to talk about Christmas: the season of miracles. It’s impossible to celebrate the real Christmas season with out celebrating the miracles of Christmas. It is impossible to understand the Christmas story without also understanding the miracles of the Christmas story. But today, we live in a day and age that largely doesn’t accept miracles. We live in what they call a secular age, an age of science, an age of rationality and reason, an age of material and energy. While many people believe in the miracle stories of the Bible they are less and less believing in those miracles other than just stories. Over the last 200 years, scholars have tried to explain the miracles of the Bible and all miracles as unexplained natural events; we just don’t know how to explain some things but they assure us there are good, natural explanations. And more and more people have begun to accept that explanation of miracles. But that is a false understanding of miracles. A miracle, a full-blown miracle, is the direct intervention of God into our natural world for the purpose of interrupting the natural order to bring about something supernatural. The biggest miracle of all was the direct intervention of God into our world through the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus was the Immanuel or God with us. Christmas can’t be explained or properly celebrated until that is understood. So when we come into the Christmas season this year, let’s take a look at the miracles that came about with the hope that by better understanding God’s miracles in the past we might put ourselves in a better position to experience them in our lives in the present. Wouldn’t you like to experience miracles in your life? Don’t we all need miracles sometimes to help us through this life? I don’t know about you but there is no question that I need God’s miracles in my life. I need to know that I can pray to God for anything, even if it’s something that calls for a miracle. For people without faith, or for people who have listened to the skeptics who have convinced them there are always natural explanations for everything, when they are faced with a seemingly impossible situation they lose all hope. But for Christians who fully believe in miracles and the God of miracles, there is no hopeless situation. So today I’d like to talk about the miracles of Christmas, because without miracles there can be no Christmas. I hope that it inspires you to believe or believe more strongly in God’s ability and willingness to intervene into our world and our lives to bring about his will. First, there is Mary’s miracle; an angel visits and makes an announcement. Second, there is Joseph’s miracle; an angel visits and gives instructions. Finally, third, there is a miracle for everyone; the birth of the Savior of the world. All these miracles make up the miracle of Christmas.

First, there is Mary’s miracle. Matthew 1:18-19, “This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.” We are all familiar with this part of the Christmas story, in fact, Luke1:26-38 gives us more details. We learn that an angel visits Mary and tells her that she is going to have a baby boy and that he will be the long-awaited Messiah. Matthew tells us that Mary was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Now that’s supposed to be an explanation of how Mary as a virgin could bear a child – through the Holy Spirit, but if you think about it, it really doesn’t explain much. What does it mean that Mary has a child through the Holy Spirit? You see this was a full-fledged miracle taking place and there really isn’t any reasonable natural explanation. To say that Jesus was born of the Spirit is to basically say He was born of a miracle. Nobody knows how Jesus was actually conceived of in Mary’s womb, although theologians throughout the history of the church have speculated. Did the Holy Spirit of God plant a seed in the womb of Mary, or did the Spirit transplant an entire embryo into Mary’s womb? We don’t actually know what took place only that it did take place and man had nothing to do with it. This is what bothers the modern skeptics so much about miracles: they can’t get their minds to understand it, so they totally discount it. But that’s just arrogance and pride. What makes us think that we can understand everything that happens in the world or even our own lives? Christmas reminds us once again that the world is a mysterious place, we only sense just a small part of it and understand it even less. Nobody knows exactly what happened in the womb of Mary but as Christians we accept that it was a miracle even though we can’t explain it or don’t even know what exactly happened. We accept it by faith; it’s a mystery from God. Miracles happen but they are not normal or common, or else they wouldn’t be miracles. Things that happen normally we accept as normal. For example, the sun rises every morning. The more we learn about it the more miraculous is it that a great, big fireball should be so constant and so essential for our planet, but we don’t consider it unusual that it rises every morning. We don’t think of it as a miracle. But a virgin birth, now that’s unusual, and not only unusual but miraculous. It just doesn’t happen. And yet God intervened and made it happen. Do you need God to intervene in your life today? Are you praying for a miracle today? Know then that miracles are possible and they happen when God so desires.

Second, there is Joseph’s miracle. Matthew 1:20-21, “But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’” We can imagine how shocked and disappointed Joseph must have been when Mary told him that she was going to have a baby. And he didn’t believe Mary’s story about an angel appearing to her and telling her that she was with child through the power of the Holy Spirit. Now mind you, Joseph wasn’t necessarily a skeptic, as we think of unbelieving people today. He was a good Jew who believed in the miracles of the Bible, but like a lot of people today, he believed in past miracles, Bible miracles, but doubted that they could or would happen to him. Isn’t that like a lot of us today? We are not doubters of miracles in general, just doubters in miracles happening in our lives. Some people disbelieve in miracles in principle, others disbelieve in them practically. Miracles for them are always things that happen to other people in other times in other circumstances; never to them, today. It’s easy to start to think this way because we live in a very secular, materialistic, scientific age that pushes the supernatural out of everyday life. But look what God did for Joseph; He sent Joseph his own miracle in the form of an angelic visitation in a dream. The angel says, “Don’t be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 1:20. Again, the explanation is the Holy Spirit. But that still doesn’t help us understand how it happened, only by whom it happened. In other words, God doesn’t tell us how this miracle happened only that is was from Him. It shows us that we must be willing to live and believe beyond our mind’s understanding. All we have to know is that something is from God in order to believe. To say that the Holy Spirit produced the child in Mary’s womb is to say a miracle occurred from God, and that is enough. Are you open-minded and accepting of miracles happening in your life today? Even if you believe in the miracles of the Bible, are you open to them occurring today in your life? Christmas teaches us to believe in the miraculous even if we don’t understand. Mary and Joseph believed even though they didn’t understand. So too, we are called to believe in prayer and pray, even though we can’t understand how prayers are answered or when. We are called to read and believe the Bible even though we may have many questions about how it can be true. Christmas teaches us to believe and walk by faith in God and in God’s miracles.

Third, there is Jesus, a miracle for everyone. Matthew 1:22-25, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us.’ When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.” The greatest miracle of all time, outside of the initial creation of everything, is when God became man in Jesus Christ. And that miracle started with the baby Jesus at Christmas. This is everyone’s miracle because it opens up a way for everyone to enter into a saving relationship with God. “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him ‘Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us,’” Matthew 1:23. Do you believe that God can visit His creation through a man called Jesus? Wouldn’t that take a miracle for that to happen? Yes, but that’s exactly the miracle of Christmas, that God came down from heaven to earth to pay us a visit and help us relate to Him. Through Jesus we can know as much about God as we are capable of understanding, and through Jesus we can experience as much about God as we are able to experience in our limited, human forms. Some day when we are freed from our earthly bodies, we’ll be able to understand and experience much more about God through pure spirit. But for now, Jesus is our best window to the Almighty. I remember when I first became a born-again Christian I was confronted with all of these miracle stories in the Bible which for the first time I was asked to believe. Before the new birth I guess I sort of believed and didn’t believe. I didn’t read the Bible much, so I wasn’t confronted with believing it. But after I committed my life to Christ, I ran into the problem of whether I believed the miracles of the Bible or not, and whether I believed that God still does miracles or not. I had to think that through, but in the end I came to the conclusion that the same God that created the universe is capable of intervening into that natural world to do whatever he pleases, at any time. Miracles aren’t hard for God. And if miracles aren’t hard for God to perform, they shouldn’t be so hard for me to believe. I’ve never seriously questioned miracles since. In fact, today I pray for miracles on a regular basis and many of my prayers are answered. We might all experience more miracles today if we dared pray for more miracles. Are you facing a seemingly impossible situation today? Are you in need of a real miracle at this moment? Why not pray for a miracle and then leave it in the hands of God? There is no guarantee you’ll get exactly what you ask for, but you won’t know unless you try.

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