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Fourth Sunday in Advent

December 23, 2007

Fourth Sunday in Advent           Trinity Lutheran Church
23 December 2007                      Murdock, NE

+ Jesu Juva +

Matthew 1:18-25

Scandalous!  Shameful!  Joseph text messages his lawyer to draw up the divorce papers.  Quietly and discreetly of course.  No need for a scene or public scandal.  What use would there be in humiliating Mary.  She’ll have enough explaining to do with her parents and family.  Sadly, it’s all over.  The engagement is finished.  Their relationship is in ruins before the wedding. 

Why?  Because Mary is pregnant.  She’s going to have a baby.  And Joseph’s certainly not the father.  They’ve not been intimate.  Haven’t had the honeymoon yet.  That’s why Joseph has decided to divorce Mary quietly.

No doubt Mary tried to reason with Joseph.  “Joseph, dear beloved Joseph, I’ve been faithful.  I’m still a virgin.  I’ve been with no one.  Please.  I beg you to believe me.”

“Then how can you be pregnant Mary?  I know how women get pregnant.  I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday you know.  I’m not the father.  If you tell me the story that you conceived this baby by the Holy Spirit filled Word of God spoken into your ears by the archangel Gabriel, I’ll not only see my lawyer but I’ll check you into a rubber room with pink walls, strait jackets and Freudian shrinks to look in on you occasionally.  In fact, I may even join you since you’ve got me so confused.”

Mary gets nowhere with Joseph.  So the Lord takes action.  “An angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream.” 
An angel of the Lord.  Listen up Joseph.  The Lord’s talking now.  Will you argue with Him?  “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.”  That’s exactly what Mary said. 

But there’s more from the Lord’s angel:  “Mary will give birth to a son and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”   

Jesus:  Conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Born of the Virgin Mary.  The Savior of sinners like Joseph, Mary, you, and me. 

But there’s more for Joseph’s certainty and ours in God’s promise and giving.  The Evangelist Matthew tells us that all this happens in fulfillment of God’s promise to His Old Testament people.  Isaiah 7 to be precise.  “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ – which means, ‘God with us.’”

Let’s review.  Mary the virgin is pregnant.  Not by Joseph or any man.  The baby in her belly was conceived by the Holy Spirit when Gabriel spoke God’s Word into her ears.  His name is Jesus that means God saves.  And Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin giving birth to Immanuel, God with us, is fulfilled.

Imagine that.  God dwells among sinners to save sinners from their sins.  That’s Immanuel Jesus.  God takes on flesh to be with us in order to die for us.  God with us to forgive us.  God with us to give us eternal life.  And Mary is the woman to bear Immanuel Jesus.  Conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Born of the Virgin Mary.   

“When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.”  He marries her.  He takes care of her as her beloved husband.  He cares for the Baby she carries for He is the Savior of the world, his and Mary’s Savior.  Yours. 

And part of the care for Mary is that Joseph remains patient and kind.  He considers her needs and not his.  Does what no newly wed husband would ever consider.  “But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son.”  There is no intimacy during the pregnancy.  He refrains.  The Baby is pure gift.  A magnificent, incredible, staggering gift from the Father in the power of the Holy Spirit to sinners. 

And when the Baby was born Joseph “gave him the name Jesus.”  He does exactly what the Lord’s angel told him to do in the dream.

Conceived by the Holy Spirit.  Born of the Virgin Mary.  His Name is Jesus.  Jesus means:  “God saves.”  God saves His people from their sins by taking on our flesh and answering for all sin.  He is Immanuel, “God with us.”  In the crib.  On the cross.  In the crypt.  In the bread and wine.  For you.  For the forgiveness of your sins. 

What a God!  What a Savior!  See you tomorrow evening.

In the Name of Jesus.           

From → "A" Sermons

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