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Grasping the Greatness of God's Grace

The Gospel of Luke  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Our attention shifts to Mary and the announcement of her conceiving Christ. The whole passage is about grace and God's intention to save through sending His Son in a very humble means.

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Introduction

This whole passage is entirely about God’s grace. From the start of the passage, all the way through the passage, God’s grace is the main theme.
The goal for this sermon is to grasp the greatness of God’s grace.
Which actually is an easy thing to do when you realize what this passage has to say about the grace of God.
Grace — is God’s unearned, undeserved involvement in your life for your good and His glory.
Which already sounds pretty great. It sounds pretty amazing. To have God’s involvement in my life for my good. And for my highest good, eternal life.
As God’s grace cannot be separated from salvation, or from having eternal life.
And if you remember from last week, John the Baptist’s birth has been announced. And John is going to fulfill Old Testament prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the coming Messiah.
And there are some very interesting parallels from last week’s birth announcement and this week’s birth announcement.
Keep in mind Luke is primarily writing to a Gentile audience, explaining the Gospel to them in ways that they can understand and especially how they fit into the community of believers.
And the comparison between last week and tonight’s messages will show some very important differences in attitude.
There are three things that we need to examine tonight in order to grasp the greatness of God’s grace:

1). The Place of God’s Grace

Galilee is mentioned in the OT, but Nazareth is virtually never mentioned in any Jewish writing, definitely never in the Old Testament.
It wasn’t on any main road, it was full of Gentiles, it was small and Isolated. It’s really and outcast town.
Nathaniel one of Jesus’ disciples even says in
(ESV)
46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
Everyone recognizes that this place isn’t a popular place and it’s certainly not a place that anyone would expect the announcement of the conception of the King would be.
This is a bizarre place for God’s grace to be shown to be great. The greatness of God’s grace should be shown in taking over Rome, right? It should be announced through the whole empire.
God is going to become man. That’s huge news. Why isn’t the news that Mary is going to bring the Christ into the world through her womb being heralded by every single person?
Why isn’t Mary transported to some place of significance in order to be told this message? In fact, why isn’t brought into the Temple for this kind of message?
Nazareth, which was also a corrupt city at this point? This is the city where you send an angel from God, Gabriel, to announce to Mary that she is going to birth the Son of God into the world.
Think about this especially considering who her Son is supposed to be,
(ESV)
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Which begs the question why not announce the coming of the King, descendant of David, in Jerusalem?
Well, the greatness of God’s grace isn’t grasped by the greatness of great places. It didn’t happen that way because that’s not how you grasp the greatness of God’s grace.
Great places and great things aren’t the same thing as the greatness of God’s grace. What makes God’s grace great is not places that are great.
But speaking of the insignificance of the place of God’s grace, we mentioned Mary who is receiving God’s grace:

2). The Person of God’s Grace

Mary’s age isn’t mentioned in the Gospels, it’s extra-Biblical sources that state that she was 12, or 14 or something like that.
She was probably a teenager, but there’s not much of a reason to suggest, Biblically, that she was that young. She is simple a woman, capable of marrying a man, and has been kept pure.
She has not been previously married, she’s free to marry Joseph. She probably comes from kind of significant background, maybe from Levi since she’s Elizabeth’s cousin.
Or maybe specifically from the house of David, or both.
But apparently, Mary is neither at this time someone who is important or has a very popular social status.
She also doesn’t adopt a popular social status during her life or subsequent to her life. It’s within the Roman Catholic church that she starts to receive a way too high of a status.
And you might suggest that there is something either already special about Mary or that Mary is kind of made something special.
And the reason for that is how Mary is addressed. But notice that as Mary is called, “O favored one”, she is called by the Greek word χαριτόω which is related to the word χάρις which means “grace”.
And many Roman Catholics have then used this statement in the Hail Mary prayer, “Hail Mary ‘full of Grace’”.
χάρις
But the fact is, that Gabriel announced her as the recipient of God’s grace not as someone who gives out God’s grace.
She hasn’t been exalted to a position other than a believer in Jesus Christ. She hasn’t become co-redeemer with Jesus Christ.
She’s someone who is waiting for her redeemer, Jesus Christ.
She’s someone who has received the grace of God in order to be and do
Now she reveals some very important concepts that relate to how a person can grasp the greatness of God’s grace.
(ESV)
29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
The troubling that she experienced wasn’t being bothered by the pronouncement as much as she was confused by Gabriel’s declaration.
And then the text talks about her discerning or more specifically, she was pondering. She was considering the implications of what was said.
And it’s probably that she did start to experience some anxiety. “What is God going to do with me?”
And Gabriel tells her, don’t be afraid. Don’t be concerned about this, God’s involvement in your life is going to be a really good thing.
God has given you grace.
Now some people have thought that Mary bearing Jesus would mean Mary has to be sinless in order to do that.
Which is a good argument. However, Mary being sinless doesn’t solve the predicament of Jesus, God’s son, being born through a creature.
Even if Mary is sinless, she is still unworthy to receive the honor of bringing Christ into the world.
This is grace. This is why she is a “graced one”. She’s favored not because she’s capable of conceiving Jesus, she’s favored because God chose to use her for this significant and special purpose.
Now she questions it, and it seems like she questions this the very same way that Zechariah did.
(ESV)
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And notice Zechariah’s,
(ESV)
18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
Both were told, “don’t be afraid”. And yet Zechariah was disciplined because of his response, and Mary simply gets the information she was asking.
Compare the two, though. Zechariah is worshipping in the Temple, which was understood to be the place where God was.
It was the center of Jewish worship. Zechariah was a righteous man. Zechariah probably was a scholar of the Old Testament. Zechariah should’ve known the power of God to bring about salvation.
Much like the Jews as a whole. But many Jews rejected the idea of Jesus.
Zechariah’s question was more of doubt than sincerity. And Elizabeth grasped the grace of God because the idea of her having a child who would be great was a joy.
And this child would announce her salvation in the coming Messiah. And she looked to how this would change her.
Mary was concerned, “I am a virgin.” Given Gabriel’s response to her, explaining how this will happen, it’s interesting, because it seems to suggest that Mary was concerned about how she can fulfill this.
She reveals her inadequacy. How can I serve God when I’m not capable of performing what God says will happen?
And that’s where Mary really grasps the greatness of the grace of God. The power of God will bring this about.
The Holy Spirit will be responsible for forming Christ in you. Salvation happens with us, because Christ is formed in us.
(ESV)
As a side note
19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!
The entire book of Galatians is a defense of the grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, becoming a Christian is the forming of Christ in us.
That all of us would bare Christ and bring Him with us wherever we go as Christians.
And Mary’s conclusion:
(ESV)
38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the slave of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
As a side note, the reason why Jesus can be born through Mary isn’t because of Mary’s sinlessness, it’s because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
In says in verse 35 that the Holy Spirit will overshadow Mary, and therefore Jesus can be called, “holy”, the “son of God”.

3). The Power of God’s Grace

(ESV)
31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David,
33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
What is it that we’re talking about with the coming of Jesus Christ? With His 1st coming?
Well his name is Jesus—literally, “Yahweh saves”.
(ESV)
21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
So there is this huge problem of our sins that Jesus came to save us from. He came not to potentially save us from our sins but to save us from our sins.
But Jesus never intended to be only savior as amazing as that would’ve been.
He also came to sit on the throne of David, reigning over the house of Jacob, in a never ending kingdom.
No longer are you Nazareth dwellers. But you’re also not in Rome doomed to fall. You’re taken out of your insignificant circumstances into the significant circumstances of Christ’s never ending reign.
And it’s not that you’re given significance on your own, but that you are in a Kingdom whose significance is Jesus Christ.
So that the value added to your life is the value added by the life of Jesus Christ. So that you’re whole life is dedicated and devoted to the worth and value of Jesus.
As a citizen of His kingdom he becomes the entire center of your life.
Not only are we from places unworthy to receive the grace of God, but each of us is a person unworthy of God’s grace,
And we’re placed into a place of significant worth, the kingdom of Jesus, who is the person of significant value and we enter into relationship with Him in His kingdom because of the grace of God.
This is the significance behind Gabriel’s statement:
(ESV)
37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
How can Mary go from being unworthy, being in an unworthy place to house Jesus Christ? Because this is entirely possible with God and His grace.
And Mary represents God’s intention to do a very similar thing with each of us, Mary go Jesus, we get Jesus, this is the greatness of the grace of God.
And it begs the question, why? Why choose Mary, why choose us? God’s unearned, undeserved choice to be involved in our lives.
This is grasping the greatness of God’s grace.
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