Advent II Midweek Matins + Luke 1:26-38 + December 7, 2016

Order of Matins - Pg. 32
Hymn # 74 Once He Came In Blessing
Hymn # 274 Praise We the Lord This Day
Hymn # 62 Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel

Psalmody - Psalm42

Luther's Morning Prayer
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray You that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen. 

Reading
Luke 1:26-38

Sermon on Luke 1:26-38

Grace and peace be unto you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
1)         The Virgin Mary will conceive and bear a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. That is the angel Gabriel’s news to Mary. By this miraculous conception God shows His almighty power. God formed the first man out of the dirt of the earth. The first woman was formed from the rib of the first man. Since the creation, men have been brought into the world in the natural way, through the union of a married man and woman. But in Mary’s conception of Jesus, the Lord shows us once again His great power as He did at the creation. For God the Father does not bring the Messiah into the world through the natural order of things, but circumvents the natural order. He does this because the child born to Mary is not an ordinary child. The child conceived in the womb of the Blessed Virgin is the Only-begotten Son of God, who was begotten of God the Father from eternity. This is the one of whom St. John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). This the one whom Paul describes as the “brightness of His glory and the express image of His person” (Hebrews 1:3). The one conceived in Mary’s womb is God Himself, the second person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son. In this conception in the virgin’s womb, the Only-begotten Son of God becomes incarnate, that is, He becomes flesh because “in all things He had to be made like His brethren” (Hebrews 2:17).

2)         The Lord shows His almighty power in yet another way by circumventing the natural order for bringing people into the world. The reason that Christ does not have an earthly father, but is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, is because everyone born in the natural way is born sinful. The natural order is how sin is passed from one generation to the next, as David says in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” Job rhetorically asks, “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean thing?” (Job 14:4). Adam and Eve’s sin and the guilt of their sin is passed to all their descendants like a hereditary disease, or as St. Paul writes in Romans 5:12, Sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” Because this child is the Only-begotten Son of God, the second person of God the Holy Trinity, He is by nature, without sin. The Lord shows this to us by having Christ be conceived and born of a virgin. The Only-begotten Son assumes flesh from Mary and wraps Himself in a human body, mind, and soul by the power of the Holy Spirit. This shows us God’s graciousness. All people are born sinful because they are born of the line of Adam and Eve. So all people carry their guilt and because of that, we are all sinners. But the Lord breaks this pattern and is born without the sin of Adam and Eve and without their guilt.

3)         Jesus had to be fully man so that He was able to die, for God, by nature, cannot die. This is why God the Son assumed human flesh, so that He could die upon the cross to atone for all your sins. And while He had to be fully man, He also had to be sinless. If He had sin, first, He wouldn’t be God in human flesh, and second, His sacrifice upon the cross would not have been good for the whole world. The Lord taught the Old Testament Israelites this by the sacrifices He demanded. When an Israelite bought a lamb for sacrifice, when a family picked out a lamb to be their Passover Lamb, that lamb was always to be spotless and without blemish. The Lord legislated that so that Israel would learn to expect THE Passover lamb of the ages to be pure, without the blemish of sin. In the incarnation, the Lord provides this miraculous way to give God the Son human flesh without the taint of sin, so that He could be our perfect and spotless sacrifice for all our sins. That’s why St. John points to Jesus in John 1:29 and says, “Behold, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” And St. Paul teaches us this also when he writes in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us.” The Christ comes into the world through the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Virgin Mary to show us that He is in every way like us, fully man, yet without sin, so that we see Him also as fully God in His sacrifice upon the cross.

4)         But God works this great work not only to show His almighty power. For He wants to be known to us not chiefly as almighty, but as merciful. The Incarnation of God the Son in human flesh shows us God’s mercy. It is because of this incarnation that Christ is called “Immanuel”, that is, “God with us.” This child is not God with us as He is with all believers, dwelling in our hearts by faith, along with the Father and the Holy Ghost. This child is not God with us as God was with the ancient Israelites, dwelling in the Tabernacle and later Solomon’s Temple. The child born of Mary is called Immanuel, God with us, because the child is God Himself who has taken the form of a servant, assumed complete human nature to save every part of human nature from the power of sin, death, and the devil. He is called Immanuel, God with us, because in Jesus, God the Son is with us in the flesh to bear our sins and be our savior. That’s why Gabriel tells Mary, “You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS” (Luke 1:31). The same angel tells Joseph in a dream what that means. Gabriel tells Joseph that Mary “will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). God is with us, incarnate, in our flesh, to save His people from their sins by dying upon the cross to atone for the sins of the world as the Lamb of God who is spotless and without blemish. God is with us for this singular purpose, to redeem us from sin by His death on the cross, to free us from death by His resurrection from the grave, and to destroy the power the devil has over us by forgiving our sins by faith.

5)         The Lord shows His almighty power and His mercy to sinners in the incarnation. He also teaches us the faith which justifies sinners and forgives sins. God shows us what faith looks like. Mary curiously wonders how all this can be. But her curiosity is not unbelief as Zacharias’ was last week. Mary wonders how this all could happen, but she does not let her lack of understanding hold her back from accepting the angel’s words as true. This is the faith that God desires from each of you. It is also the very faith that God gives to each of you as well, for faith is a gift of God, not a decision or conclusion we arrive at by ourselves. Since we are born sinful, we could never made that decision the right way. But God shows His mercy to us yet again, but giving us the faith that He requires, working that faith in our hearts through the hearing of the Word of God. Just as Mary’s faith, which accepts the Word of God as true and firmly believes it, was a gift from God, so that not even Mary can boast, so our faith is a gracious gift from God. Just as Mary’s faith was worked through the Word of God spoken by the angel Gabriel, so your faith in Christ is worked through your hearing of the Gospel. Faith believes God’s Word, even when we can’t understand how these things can be. Mary shows us that faith, as a gift from God, takes God at His Word, that He is true, and that He will fulfill every word He gives because every word He gives is for us and our salvation. So we see God’s almighty power in the incarnation, but we also see His mercy to us, for He graciously bestows upon us poor sinners everything needed for our salvation: our spotless lamb, His perfect sacrifice, and even the faith which believes, accepts, and treasures these things for our salvation. For this, let us give thanks to God. Amen

May the peace of God which passes human understanding guard your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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