Sermon - 12-23-2007 - The Messenger of Good News
NORTHEAST HOUSTON COMMUNITY CHURCH
SERMON – The Messenger of Good News
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"* 29 But when she saw him,* she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 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. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." 34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" 35 And the angel answered and said 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. 36 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. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible." 38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. NKJV
Christmas is here again and God in His mercy has allowed us to see another one. Many of us have heard the “Christmas story” so often and in so many different versions that if we each told the story there would be no two that are exactly the same.
To some people it has become so familiar that we don’t really pay strict attention to it. We know of Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, wise men, the animals, the star, and of course baby Jesus. All the nativity scenes depict these images.
But there is a person of great importance involved with the Christmas story that for the most part has been over looked. Jesus is the central figure and rightly so but if we focus only on baby Jesus we may miss many great lessons for us that are entwined in the Christmas story.
GABRIEL g¹ br¢- l [Hebr. ga»rî°¢l — 'God is powerful,' 'man of God' (?); Gk. Gabri¢l].
A celestial being or personage who is mentioned by name only four times in Scripture.
We know of Him as being the one to bring the message of two unusual births, one to a couple in their old age well beyond child bearing years and again to a young unmarried virgin that never knew a man. I believe that it is highly possible that Gabriel was the angel that also told Joseph in a dream to marry Mary.
I am led to say something about Joseph that I believe has application for people today. All we know of Joseph is that he was a righteous man.
Matt 1:19 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man,… NKJV
If that is all people ever know of you and I, that is saying a lot.
Joseph accepted the word of God (for the angel Gabriel spoke as directed by God).
In today’s society there are women with children from broken marriages, or were born out of wedlock. There are also women and men with past lives.
A lesson I see here is that Joseph made the decision to marry Mary as being guided by the word of/from God and I don’t believe he ever brought it up in Mary’s face again.
Joseph accepted the role as stepfather believing in the word of/from God. Can you imagine how good this made Mary feel? Joseph’s act demonstrated first his love for God and seconds his love for Mary. That is the order we should love.
Stepmothers and stepfathers understand that God may have brought you into the life of a child for you to be God’s blessing on that child.
If two people decide to get marry and the past is known, then my advice is for you men and women to leave the past right where in is, in the past. There is never any need to throw it in the others face.
Let’s look more at Gabriel:
· Stands in the presence of God
· A messenger of God
· Supernatural powers of swift flight and healing.
· Took on the appearance of a man
· Listed as one of four Archangels
· Believed to be the angel in 1 Thess 4:16-17 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
1 and 2 Enoch of the Apocrypha
1 In 1 En. 40 :3 he was represented as one of the four presences that looked down from heaven upon mankind.
2 He was believed to be supreme over all powers (40 : 9),
3 He was included among the Lord's glorious ones.
4 In 1 En. 9 :1-11 he was one of the four angels who took to God's presence the prayers of the martyrs as they appealed to God for an end to the lawlessness upon earth along with Michael, Uriel, and Raphael.
5 In 2 En. 24:1 Gabriel was described as one seated at the left hand of God in a position of supreme power.
Gabriel visited Zachariah and Elizabeth with the message to them from God that they would have a child in their old age and to name him John. (Luke 1).
The angel, Gabriel, cause Zachariah to lose his voice because He did not believe.
Luke 1:18-20 18 And Zacharias said to the angel, "How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is well advanced in years." 19 And the angel answered and said to him, "I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and was sent to speak to you and bring you these glad tidings. 20 But behold, you will be mute and not able to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words which will be fulfilled in their own time." NKJV
Contrast what He said to Mary and what Mary said in response to Gabriel’s message.
Luke 1:34 34 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" NKJV
Both began their response with the word “How”. Why was Zacharias chastised and Mary not?
I think there are a few reasons for this
1. Zacharias and Elizabeth have been praying for a child.
2. Zacharias was a priest and should be first to believe God.
3. Didn’t he know of the story of Abraham and Sarah?
4. He was in God’s House (temple); what better place to hear from God?
5. He was given the message and instructions to go along with it by direct word of God.
When God’s word is clear to those of us that say we believe in God, especially those of us that stand before the people as representatives of God; that is not a time for questions but a time for obedience.
Mary as a young person, probably only in her early teens, was not expected to have the same faith as Zacharias.
God has different expectations for each of us here. He is a loving God but not a God to play with, not a God to keep putting off, not a God we can continue to sin against or disobey and expect Him to bless us.
I mentioned that Gabriel is mentioned by name only four times in the bible. The two in the NT are when he appeared to Zachariah and to Mary. Each time His message came true.
In the OT Gabriel appeared twice to Daniel. On both occasions Gabriel was to make the visions given to Daniel clear.
First time to Daniel was about the time of the end.
Dan 8:15-17 15 Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, "Gabriel, make this man understand the vision." 17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, "Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end." NKJV
Notice Verse 16. The voice like a man’s is that of God. Gabriel speaks the word of God.
Second time to Daniel refers to the time of tribulation.
Dan 9:21-23 21 yes, while I was speaking in prayer, the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, reached me about the time of the evening offering. 22 And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, "O Daniel, I have now come forth to give you skill to understand. 23 At the beginning of your supplications the command went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly beloved; therefore consider the matter, and understand the vision: NKJV
The message to us is that:
1 Gabriel speaks the word of God and the word of God is true and will come to pass.
2 God has given us His word through Jesus Christ. (In the beginning was the Word )
3 Now God has left and preserved His word for us contained in the Bible.
· Some will not receive it at all
· Some will receive it like Zachariah, knowing it even preaching and teaching it, but when the time comes to believe and act on it they may fall short.
· Some will receive it like Mary with only the faith, knowledge and understanding she had, and say like she did. Luke 1:38 38 Then Mary said, "Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word." NKJV
I am afraid that too many people still have Jesus in the manger as a little baby. He came not to be celebrated as a “miracle baby” a term that has been over used and applied to babies around the world.
We often say that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, but let us not forget the reason for Jesus.
Jesus came with a purpose, to offer salvation to mankind and to the world.
The birth of Jesus changed everything. Every time you write a check, or write a letter , the date you write is because of the birth of Jesus.
In the OT God created the world and He also created man.
Gal 4:4-5 4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born* of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. NKJV
In the NT (marked by Jesus) Jesus came to save man and the world which God had created from the penalty of sin.
Matt 1:21 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
1 Tim 1:15 5 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. NKJV
John 3:16-17 16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. NKJV
We have distorted Christmas so much that Santa get more recognition that Jesus, that Christmas is we give and we receive gifts rather than Christ as the gift of God offering the gift of eternal life.
There, that’s my Christmas message, but there is more. There are some hidden messages for us in the story. Back to Gabriel, the messenger of God, with a message for us as well.
The decisions you make concerning all that God has said is not based on the pastor, the church, a preacher or teacher, but on the word of God. That is what He will hold each of us accountable for.
Every time you see a nativity scene or see and image of baby Jesus remember two things. That which you see is a representation of the Word of God and that Jesus is no longer in the manger. He is getting ready to come again for His own that believe, receive and obey.
!!! Illustration Story: What’s Plan B?
According to a legend, when Jesus returned to heaven following his death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb, the angels gathered in amazement. They gazed at the wounds in his hands and feet, and shuddered to recall his suffering.
Finally Gabriel spoke: “Master, you suffered terribly down there. Do they know and appreciate the extent of your sacrifice.” “No,” said Jesus. “Not yet. Right now only a handful of people in Palestine know.”
“Then what have you done to let everyone else know?” asked Gabriel.
“I’ve asked Peter, James, and John, and a few others to spread the news. They will tell others who will tell others until the message spreads to the ends of the earth.”
But Gabriel, knowing the nature of human beings, asked, “What is Plan B?”
“I have no Plan B,” replied Christ. “There is no alternative strategy. I’m counting on them.”
Twenty centuries later, he still has no other plan. He’s counting on you and me.
Gabriel was a faithful messenger of good news. It is now our turn to be the faithful messenger of the good news, the Gospel.