Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Chosen Vessel: Luke 1:26–38

Thursday, December 5, 2013, 21:02
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The Chosen Vessel

December 1, 2013

Lesson: Luke 1:26–38

Key Verse: Luke 1:38

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Introduction

Mary rejoiced in her Lord, saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in my Savior” (Luke 1:46–47). Four hundred years before she said this, it was spoken of her, “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). It was spoken of Christ: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Calvin calls us to this joy of Mary’s, that we should also know Him as our promised Savior: “Till God has been recognized as a Saviour, the minds of men are not free to indulge in true and full joy, but will remain in doubt and anxiety. It is God’s fatherly kindness alone, and the salvation flowing from it, that fill the soul with joy.”

Israel was looking for deliverance, and the sign that was given to them was the birth of God’s Son by a virgin … Mary is the chosen vessel! But it is the Christ who is promised who will bring deliverance. True happiness fills the heart of the believer, of the people of God, when they realize that the Lord God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is their everlasting Savior. Our Savior has chosen Mary to be His chosen vessel. We look to Mary to see the majestic love of the Triune God toward His people … and, therefore, toward us. The more we understand the wisdom of His ways, the more our faith will rest secure in Him.

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Mary Finds Favor with God—Luke 1:26–28

God sends His angel, Gabriel, to Nazareth. It is in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. The angel Gabriel is sent to a young virgin who is engaged to marry Joseph, of the house of David.  Gabriel says to Mary: “Hail, thou art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women.” Whenever God works in the life of His child, He does so with words that express His marvelous grace. Mary is called the ‘Highly favored one,’ being assured of her position before God. The same word for ‘highly favored’ is found in Ephesians 1:6, where it is translated, ‘accepted’: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” Mary was made, by grace, acceptable to Him as the one to bear the incarnate Son. We are made acceptable to our Father in heaven, through Christ and His cross, to be His beloved children and servants.

In the womb of Mary came the fulfillment of God’s promise, “spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us” (Matt. 1:22–23). This is what Paul called “the mystery of godliness (of worship): God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). Immanuel, or God with us, is “frequently employed in Scripture to denote that he is present with us by his assistance and grace, and displays the power of his hand in our defense. But here we are instructed as to the manner in which God communicates with men. For out of Christ we are alienated from him; but through Christ we are not only received into his favor, but are made one with him” (Calvin’s Commentary).

Discussion: How did God express His grace in Mary?

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Fear Not, Mary!—Luke 1:2–31

Mary was troubled by such words from the angel of the Lord. It is said that she was “cast in her mind.” She tried to reason out what the angel was saying, and was confused in her thinking. However, the angel Gabriel calmed whatever fears Mary may have had, by speaking to her, saying, “Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favour with God.” God bestowed grace upon Mary, an undeserved gift to one who was to bear the Son of God, Incarnate! Mary was highly favored, made acceptable to God for the work of His hand. Mary was the recipient of grace, and played no part in God’s choice of her for the wonder that the world was going to see. The light of life entered into souls of God’s chosen. “The Son of God descended miraculously from heaven, yet without abandoning heaven; was pleased to be conceived miraculously in the Virgin’s womb, to live on the earth, and hang upon the cross, and yet always filled the world as from the beginning” (Calvin’s Institutes).

“Fear not,” said the angel, for “behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name, Jesus.” Mary was told by Gabriel that she would conceive in her womb a Son, and she was told that the name of the Son would be Joshua!  Why this name? Because in that name is the purpose of His coming. “Yahshua Saves— Salvation is of God!” Jesus is also called Immanuel, “as it were, with a new character. He appeared in public as a Priest, to atone for the sins of men by the sacrifice of his body, to reconcile them to the Father by the price of his blood, and, in a word, to fulfill every part of the salvation of men” (Calvin’s Commentary). Mary found salvation in the Son of God, to whom she would give birth as the One who would be made flesh and dwell among us. The apostle John testified that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). He further called us to place our faith in this Christ: “hereby know ye the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2).

Discussion: Who is this Christ who was born of the Virgin Mary?

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How Can This Be?—Luke 1:32–38

Gabriel continued to encourage us by telling Mary about the Son whom she would carry: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David. The God-Man would not only be Savior, He would not only save His people from their sins; but He is none other than the King of kings and Lord of lords. Salvation is seen in Christ as King. He is the One who will be the Son of Highest, who will reign over, protect, and care for forever!

Gabriel went on to tell Mary how she would conceive a child without the benefit of a husband. Mary replied, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man.” To know is to become one with another, to be united, male and female, in marriage, in the physical act of procreation. But something special was going to happen in the womb of Mary. The second person in the Godhead was going to come to this earth, and live on this earth as a man. God incarnate! How could this be done? It would be totally the work of the Holy Spirit. He would come to Mary and place within her womb a child, holy, set apart, divine, without sin, the “Son of God!” Mary’s response: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” When we pray, we ask that all things be done according to His word: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” We should come to the Word of God with this in mind.

Discussion: What was Gabriel’s message to Mary?

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Mary Visits Elizabeth—Luke 1:39–45

Mary made haste to the home of her cousin Elizabeth. How wonderful is the work of the Spirit in the lives of His people. While the world destroys the babe in the wombs of mothers, teaching that it is just a fetus and not a person, we see the love of these cousins, Elizabeth and Mary, rejoicing in what the Lord has given them. Mary entered the home of Zacharias and Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby in her womb leaped for joy. Is this not a response of a life? The word for baby is a word which indicates a person, a child. It can be used of an unborn child or a child who is born. The babe in the womb is a person! We will not abort a wonder of God’s creation!

Elizabeth was said to be filled with the Holy Spirit, from whom her joy abounded. It was in the Spirit that she cried out, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” Then came the statement that confirmed the truth that the Lord had given to Elizabeth a direct revelation. A mystery of heaven was revealed. This is not a nice story but a truth from the mouth of God. And this confrontation between Mary and Elizabeth is given to us that we may know that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God! Elizabeth testified that as soon as she heard the voice of Mary, “the babe leaped in my womb for joy!” God has sent His Son. His promise is complete. Nothing more is needed for our salvation, forgiveness, and life eternal.

Elizabeth heard from Mary about the visitation of the Angel of the Lord and of the promise given to Mary. The Spirit of God revealed the wonder of the baby in Mary’s womb. She said to Mary, “Whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” She rejoiced in the promise of the Son who would come as King, being called the Son of God, saying, “Blessed (well thought of) is she who believed, for there will be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.” When the Lord reveals His truth to us through His word, He grants the wonder of faith, whereby we believe and trust in those promises. Not only by faith are we saved through grace, but by faith through His grace do we live. The word “performance” tell us that what God has promised will successfully come to fruition. For this Christ, born of Mary, has entered into the holy of holies on our behalf, “having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Heb. 9:12).

Discussion: What were the results of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth?

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Lessons are based on the International Sunday School Lessons for Christian Teaching, copyright © 2013 by the Committee on the Uniform Series.

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