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December 4, 2014

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Wednesday of Advent 1                                                Trinity Lutheran Church

3 December 2014                                                           Murdock, NE


+Jesu Juva +


St. Matthew 1:18-25 “Conceived by the Holy Spirit”


Have you ever heard or seen such a thing as this? Of course you have. Young girls and young women conceive, get pregnant and have children. Duh! They conceive and have kids within the estate of holy marriage which is very God pleasing. Sadly, many have children outside of holy marriage, which, by the way, is totally against God’s will. “It takes two to tango,” as they say. A man and a woman. No brainer, right? Of course! Nothing new here. Been there and done that. It’s the history of the world. And it should happen after you get married.


2,000 plus years ago a Baby was conceived in a girl’s womb. The girl’s name: Mary. But this time it was different. Very out of the ordinary. Totally atypical!


Listen. “This is how the BIRTH of Jesus the Messiah came about.” Heads up everyone! Time to pay attention. Matthew is putting you on notice. BABY ANNOUNCEMENT time! The Baby’s name is Jesus. But He’s not just any baby. He’s the Messiah Baby! The Christ Baby! Messiah = Christ. Literally, Messiah or Christ = “anointed one.” That is the Bible’s way of saying that this Baby Jesus is the promised divine King who will save the children of Israel and the world from all their sins, death and Satan and give them forgiveness, life and salvation.


“Pastor, weren’t you going to tell us how this baby Jesus was conceived? Didn’t you say it was different? A-… what was that word?” Oh yes! Absolutely. And the word was atypical. It means different. Anyway, thanks for the reminder. But I had to preach Baby Messiah Jesus as the Savior who forgives you and all sinners otherwise you’d really let me have it. It’s what you expect. And it’s what Lutheran pastors do best. It’s in their DNA! It’s why God gives you and the world Lutheran preachers. But you’re right, I better get back to the text. “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph.”


So far so good. According to plan. Doing what is God pleasing. Engaged. Soon to be wedded to Joseph. In those days they were already legally married. All that’s left are the wedding service and blow out wedding reception bash. Double bonus too: Joseph is a “righteous man.” He’s a Messiah believer, like you! And he wants to live according to God’s Word and will, like you. Isn’t this wonderful? “Mary, we’re so happy for you! How did you ever find a man like Joseph! Sure wasn’t on! Your parents couldn’t be prouder of you! We’re so excited! We wish you and Joseph all the best and a long run! We can’t wait to give you two our wedding present and house warming gift!”


And that’s when God throws quite a surprise into Mary’s life and all the bubbly excitement of her engagement and marriage to Righteous Joseph. Listen. “But before they came together.” That means before the honeymoon and their one flesh union in the marriage bed. “But before they came together,” (are you ready for this?) … Mary was found to be pregnant.”


Did I just hear your jaw hit the floor? Did your hearts just sink? Ushers! I think somebody in the back pew just passed out!


This can’t be! Mary’s pregnant! And the baby is not Joseph’s! They haven’t slept together! Haven’t even come close to doing that! So, what are we to conclude? Well? That’s a no brainer too, isn’t it? You’re thinking what Joseph is thinking and that’s it is time to end the relationship, cancel the wedding and call the lawyer to serve Mary with divorce papers. And Joseph will do it in a hush-hush manner so that everyone will think that he is the sinner, not Mary. That Mary hasn’t sinned but that he has. He’ll make it all look like he’s responsible for the pregnancy but got cold feet and hastily decided to back out of the marriage!


Remember, Joseph is a “righteous man.” He’ll suffer for Mary’s sake. He’ll take all the heat, the arrows and the bad PR. He’ll look like the bad guy. So that no one blames Mary but everyone blames him. So that he looks like the dirty rotten scoundrel. A good for nothing deadbeat! Or some other vulgar names that I don’t dare to mention here from the pulpit because sermons are supposed to be G rated.


Well, the only answer that explains Mary’s pregnancy is that she’s been unfaithful. That she’s been sleeping around. Behind Righteous Joseph’s back! That’s the only answer, right? Has to be! No sperm banks back then! No artificial insemination 2000 years ago. How cold and conniving Mary must be! How devious and mean? Like Mean Girls Lindsey Lohan. How daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives or Hollywood starlet like! Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, Natalie Portman and Kate Hudson have nothing on Mary!


But that’s not how Mary got pregnant. She didn’t sleep around. No affair. No unfaithfulness at all on her part. She would never do that to Righteous Joseph. Instead, something very God pleasing happened!


Listen. “But before they came together, Mary was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” Your jaw just hit the floor again, didn’t it? Your mind was just blown! All the synapses and nerve endings in your head are detonating and exploding like firecrackers!


The Holy Spirit is responsible for Mary’s pregnancy? Mary’s pregnant “through the Holy Spirit”? Yes, that’s right. Bingo! You’ve got it! Baby Jesus was conceived in the Virgin Mary’s womb when the angel Gabriel preached God’s Holy Spirit filled Word into her ears! That’s in Luke the Evangelist’s account. Luke 1:26-38 to be precise. The Holy Spirit came upon Mary and the power of the Most High overshadowed Mary when Gabriel preached the sermon that promised her she’d have the Baby Jesus. We confess this biblical truth this way in the Apostles’ Creed: Jesus as “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Matthew put it this way: “through the Holy Spirit.”


It took another angel to preach a sermon to Joseph so that he would stop the divorce proceedings and take Mary as his wife. Listen to what the angel said. “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.”


Listen. “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through Isaiah the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive …’” (Isaiah 7:14). Baby Jesus is conceived in Mary’s womb not by Joseph or by any man — by the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life. The Holy Spirit-filled word preached into Mary’s ears by the archangel Gabriel did what it said and gave what it promised. Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity took on human flesh and blood in the virgin’s belly because the Holy Spirit did it through the preached word of this word of promise: “You will conceive and give birth to a son,” (Luke 1:31).


Jesus: “conceived by the Holy Spirit” or “through the Holy Spirit.” In the womb of the Virgin Mary.


Not for Himself. But FOR YOU! As true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, Jesus redeems you. He as true God and true man is conceived by the Holy Spirit in order to do a Good Friday. To offer His Body on the cross to win you salvation. And He did. He said: “It is finished.”


Indeed. Now you are forgiven. You are saved. Born again of water and the Spirit. He saved you through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom He poured out on you in Holy Baptism. New creations you are! New creatures! Spelled: F-A-I-T-H! In Jesus! Who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.


In the Name of Jesus.

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