Advent Day of Peace – Marveling Near the Manger
In these Advent messages, we have moved from Rome, to Jerusalem, to Bethlehem, and now to the manger – each time looking at what the people in each geographic area may have been thinking or not thinking about their need for the Messiah, who would be born the next day. In this message we move right into the manger, into the hearts of Mary and Joseph, especially Mary.
Mary had a number of responses to the news that she would be carrying and giving birth to the Savior, and her responses correspond nicely to our own conversion to Christ.
1. When first approached by the angel Gabriel, Mary was troubled, surprised, confused, and fearful. When we are first approached by the Holy Spirit, as He is bringing us to salvation – as He first opens our spiritual blind eyes to reveal Himself – we are troubled, surprised, confused and fearful because in God’s grace He has revealed Himself as a holy God and we see our unholiness. But the Holy Spirit didn’t leave Mary, nor you and I in this state of uneasiness.
2. Mary responded with “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary recognized that humanly it was impossible for her to carry the Messiah. And at this initial stage of our conversion we see by God’s grace that we are incapable of saving ourselves. It must be a miraculous work of God’s grace.
3. By God’s grace (and the instruction of the angel to Mary) Mary was able to accept or acquiesce to this amazing news. When we come to faith in Christ He enables us to acquiesce or ‘rest’ in Christ’s finished work for us.
4. When Mary humbly realizes that she has been ‘chosen’ by God – not because she was perfect or had any other good attributes that qualified her to be the mother of the Messiah, but solely by God’s grace – she praises God in her song ‘The Magnificat’. When we come to truly understand that our salvation is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, then we will praise the Lord also.
5. And as this was all sinking into the hearts of Joseph and Mary, they (specifically Mary) treasured, pondered and marveled at this work of God. And you and I, as sinners transformed into saints by God’s grace through Christ, should treasure (hold with great esteem in our hearts), ponder (meditate on God’s amazing work in us); and marvel (be in continual awe at the Lord God’s greatness in saving us. And as we do, the Lord’s continued peace will rest in our hearts.