God Came Down

Luke 1: 26-38


Christmas shopping done yet?  

There was a story in the Reader’s Digest of a large moose that wandered into a residential area in Calgary, Canada. The moose ended up on the lawn of a lady named Lorna Cade. A Fish and Wildlife officer was dispatched to try to coax the animal back into the wild. After two hours of absolutely no progress, the officer finally shot the moose with a tranquilizer dart. The moose eventually collapsed on another nearby lawn.

The reporters who had been following this event interviewed the lady at the house where the moose collapsed. They asked her what she thought about the moose which had passed out on her lawn. “I’m surprised,” she answered, “but not as surprised as my husband will be. He’s out moose hunting.” Her husband had gone out looking for moose and a large moose had come to him.

In a twist of irony, while humanity spends its time seeking after God, God comes to us in the babe of Bethlehem. Christmas is God initiated. We could not reach up to God, so God came down to us. That is the message of Christmas.

 Let’s read the familiar story from Luke 1: 26-38

 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

The story of a young woman named Mary – a religious upright person – planning to live a simple life – a virgin betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph – not a word we use in America but it means similar to an engagement – legally married but not yet living together as husband and wife- no sexual relations – if they did it would be considered adultery – punishable by stoning. 

God sends an angel Gabriel – good news you are pregnant – at first not so good news for Mary – what would she tell Joseph – the people of her community – her parents – who would believe her.  It may have been a birth announcement but it sure sounded like a death notice. 

An angelic visitor, an improbable prediction, a physical impossibility, and an event that, if it came to pass, could implode all of Mary’s plans and promises: this young woman has a lot to process and ponder.

Now wonder verse 29 says she was greatly troubled.

This is an amazing story. The story of how the God of all creation became human flesh in the babe of Bethlehem.

That immediately begs two questions? How is this possible and why would he do that?  Why did God come down to where we are? And why take the form of a helpless baby?

This story reminds us of the grace and love of God toward mankind. His objective was not to overwhelm humanity, lest he rob humanity of the freedom to choose. The object is to win the hearts and souls of human beings in a new relationship with Him. How would God accomplish this? God would become one of us.

Vs. 31  angel names him Jesus. A name which means Jehovah saves. "Jesus" is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name, "Joshua."

Names can also be a kind of conferring of destiny upon somebody. I heard a story about Joseph Haroutunian, who was a Presbyterian minister at McCormick Seminary in Chicago. He was an Armenian immigrant to this country. When he arrived people sometimes told him that he ought to change his name to an English sounding name, like Harwell. He said, "What's wrong with my name?" They said, "Well, Americans are going to have trouble spelling and pronouncing it. He said, "What does Harwell mean?" They said, "It doesn't mean anything. It's just easy to spell." Joseph said, "Back in Armenia my grandfather was baptized with the name Haroutun which means 'Resurrection.' My father was baptized with the name, Haroutunian, which means 'Son of Resurrection.' My name also means 'Son of Resurrection.' I am Joseph Haroutunian, and I will be a son of the Resurrection all my days." I like that name better than nothing.

As we move deeper to the most amazing part of the Christmas story—we discover a process called incarnation. Incarnation.– in   carne –flesh  ation – process of  God became human flesh.

God would not be content to communicate with His creation by satellite or by skywriting. He would actually become one of us. That is mind boggling. Have you heard the story so many times that you have forgotten what it is saying? The manger of Bethlehem becomes the entry place for God to reveal himself in human flesh.

God came down to us.

Romans 1 says to us that God has placed within the heart of every individual this inbred curiosity about God.  This mystery that there is a designer – a creator – one higher than ourselves.  We can deny that spark – we can try to snuff it out and pretend its nonsense. Psalm 14:1 says:  only the fool says there is no God.  The very fact that everyone has to wrestle with the issue gives strength to the argument that we all have it.

There are some great rational arguments for God:  look around at the universe in all it’s majesty – vastness of the world – is there an architect of that creation. Psalm 139 says look at the birth of a child – the complexity of humankind – is there not a designer of the human race or is this incredibly complex individual simply a random accident. So God has placed within all of us general revelation of who he is - a knowledge that there is a higher being – mankind still didn’t get it.

That’s not enough – we want more than an architect, a designer, a cosmic figure – we want to experience God.  In trying to do that, mankind began to worship sun, moon, idols, and all kinds of manmade things.  God took a second step - sent forth prophets to tell us what God was like.

the OT records these men of faith making bold predictions – giving warnings and calling people to righteousness. In these early revelations there was a great fear of God – a god of vengeance – anxious to snuff you out at the least offence to his desires for you. And then after creating a cosmos which declared his glory, after sending prophets to proclaim his glory, Gal. 4 says that at the fullness of time, he sent forth his son, born of a virgin, to redeem us from the law. It is called the incarnation – the final act of God’s revelation of who He is.  Emmanuel – God with us. 

Not once upon a time in a land far away, but in the time of Herod the king in the town of Bethlehem to a woman named Mary came forth the king of kings.  Facts, names of people, dates – a time, a place, a person. The birth of Jesus is a historical fact – not a dream or illusion. God came down and dwelled among us. Is this a fantasy or reality?

The Gentiles of this time had a world view was shaped by reason: the logos – principle there is a rational explanation for everything. If there is no rational explanation, then it isn’t real.

In John’s gospel he makes a unprecedented claim:  the Logos isn’t a principle; its a person. Listen to John 1: 1-14.  Wait a minute – do you mean that God is not just a far away unknowable indefinite harsh taskmaster but he is filled with grace and truth. Yes – how do you know that – in Jesus. It is the logos that makes sense out of life.

While mankind has tried for eons to climb the steps toward God, in the fullness of time, God came down to us so we could be lifted up to him. The problem is that we were looking for the wrong kind of God. We were looking for a God we could design -  control – fully understand – that we could design to fit our desires. This is what I want God to be like. I want to create a God that matches with my lifestyle.

So we designed laws to obey, programs to implement, systems of sacrifice so that God wouldn’t destroy us. The birth of Jesus plainly tells us that God doesn’t want to destroy you – he wants to be with you. 

While the essence of God is unfathomable – how can we understand infinite, all knowledge, everyone at one time - but the works of God are evident. God says to us:  if you want to know who I am, you need faith. Not fantasy but faith.  Not fiction but faith.  Faith is more than a childish whim or a leap in the dark. 

Faith begins with reason. Take the example of this chair.  I have faith that if I sit in it – it will hold me up. I reason that it has four legs, looks solid, has a seat – it should hold me up.  I have faith to sit in it.  Do I know everything about this chair?  Do I know where the fabric came from – how the wood was shaped – from what tree it came – how the tree even grew in the first place. No, what I do know is that it holds me up. I have faith because it works.

Reason is always limited –you can never understand everything whether you are talking about a chair or a relationship with God through Jesus – there will always be things we don’t understand because we aren’t God but we know enough to know that it works. A reasonable person says:  you know what it works – It makes sense. While reason always stops short, faith is unlimited: Mary says it this way in verse 37 “for nothing is impossible with God.”

Faith begins with reason but it goes beyond it as we see the works of God. I will never know exactly how a virgin can give birth to the Savior of the world but I know this: it works.  I am forgiven – accepted by God – and prepared to enter his eternal kingdom because I have faith – I believe the story because I see the evidence of changed lives.  

In the story of Jesus, we see the greatest and most radical rescue operation in history. Even though all people try to be good, down deep we all know that we have sinned and done things we shouldn’t have or failed to do things that we should have.  No amount of good works or animal sacrifices removes the stain of sin.

But God came down, assumed the body of a person, lived a perfect life and sacrificed himself for our sins that now those who believe on him should not perish but should have everlasting life. 

Mystical – absolutely    powerful   absolutely

totally understandable – no     believable  yes

Christian faith is not a philosophy that someone thought up. Christian faith is revelation. God revealed His purpose and plan, His love and His grace, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. If there are some things about our faith you do not understand, join the crowd. If we could understand everything there is about God, God would not be God.

Do you believe the story?