Manger

Luke 1:26-38

Manger - Enseñanza (audio)

Imagine that you are living on large and beautiful island, and that your home is by a sandy beach beside the ocean.1

The islanders are all descended from castaways who were washed up there after a great disaster many years ago. Many of the islanders know little or nothing about it. In fact most modern islanders do not believe that anything exists beyond the horizon.

At the center of the island there is a high mountain with what looks like a crater at the top. Some people say that it is a volcano. But the horrendous scenarios predicted by some have never happened, and most people have come to the conclusion that they never will.

Message in a Bottle

One morning, as you are strolling on the beach, you discover a green bottle has been washed up on the shore. Inside there is a message: “Help is coming.”

Strange. What kind of help could you possibly need?

A few weeks later, you see another bottle, with a similar message: “Help will arrive soon!”

The discoveries are strangely unnerving. After all you are living on an idyllic island, and are enjoying a very full and satisfying life. But the notes in the bottles keep suggesting that you are in some kind of danger.

You decide to tell your neighbor Bill.

“Bill have you seen any green bottles on the beach?”

“No. Why?”

“Well a few days ago I found one, with a note inside. I didn’t think much about it, but then I found another with the same message. Somebody is out there beyond the horizon. They are telling us that we are in some sort of danger, and they obviously have some kind of plan to help us.”

“Oh that sounds rather fanciful to me,” says Bill. “The notes were probably written by kids further round the island. If they threw the bottles out to sea, it’s quite possible that the tide washed them back in. You don’t want to worry about a few messages in a bottle!”

But somehow you can’t get the bottles and their message out of your mind. “Help is coming.”

Help Will Come

The story of the islanders can help us grasp the Bible’s message.

After our first parents sinned, they were “cast away” from the presence of God, and we live in a world which for all its beauty has a curse hanging over it. The problem we face is not about finding fulfillment on the island. It is that the whole island is passing away.

But God has promised that help will come. That is why Jesus Christ came into the world. He came from the ‘mainland’ of heaven. The Bible tells us how it happened.

God Takes the Initiative

“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary” (Luke 1:26).

The angel announced that Mary would “be with child and give birth to a son” (1:31). But Mary could not see how this could possibly be, given the fact that she was a virgin (1:34).

The angel’s answer takes us to the heart of the greatest and most wonderful mystery in the whole Bible. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (1:35).

The Bible contains other stories of miraculous births. The birth of Isaac when Abraham and Sarah were both well past the age of conceiving children was a miracle. But God worked through the union of a father and a mother. Both Abraham and Sarah were involved.

But Mary was a virgin. Joseph had absolutely nothing to do with the child she bore. Not only did he have no union with her before the child was conceived, but he had no union with her until after the child was born (Matthew 1:25).

God was taking the initiative. Jesus did not arise from the human race. God sent His Son to the human race. God the Son became a man, taking flesh from the virgin Mary.

The New Testament teaches three foundational truths about the identity of Jesus. First that He is God, second that He is man, and third that He is Holy.

The Incredible Journey

Your life began when you were conceived in your mother’s womb. Before that moment you did not exist. God used the union of your father and your mother to bring you into being. Before that you were not, and without that you would not have been.

But with Christ it is different. His life did not begin in the virgin’s womb. Before He was born in the stable, he shared the life of God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1).

Speaking of His birth, Paul says “He was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Before He was born of the Virgin Mary, God the Son already enjoyed the most marvelous life. This is something that you could not say about any other person.

The Apostle Paul says tell us that He was in very nature God, but He did not consider equality with God something to be grasped. Instead, He made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, and being made in being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:5-7).

That’s why the angel told Mary that her child would be “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32) and “the Son of God” (1:35). He is “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).

Does the Bible’s Claim That Jesus is God With Us Matter?

Absolutely. It is of great importance, because only God can reconcile man to God. Salvation has to be from the top down. Suppose you are adrift in a dinghy and you need to be rescued. Someone who is secured to the helicopter is lowered on a winch. As you embrace him, you are lifted with him to the position from where he came. Salvation is from above. Only God can save.

Christ came on an incredible journey from heaven to earth and in Him God reaches out to every person.

He’s Really One of Us

Once we have grasped that Jesus is God, it is every bit as important for us to grasp that He is a man. On several occasions in the Old Testament, God appeared in a visible form. But these appearances were only temporary. They could be compared to an actor dressing up or putting on a disguise.

But the birth of Jesus is entirely different. Son of God took human flesh to himself. He did not cease to be God, but He became a man.

The incarnation is, in itself, an unfathomable mystery, but it makes sense of everything else that the New Testament contains.2 Everything else in the New Testament revolves around this one miracle. If God became man in Jesus, we should not be surprised at His claims, His miracles or His resurrection. Once you know who He is, it all begins to fit.

As C.S. Lewis pointed out, “We believe that the sun is in the sky at midday in summer, not because we can clearly see the sun (in fact we cannot), but because we can see everything else.”3

Does the Humanity of Jesus Matter?

Absolutely. The fact that Jesus is a man is as important to our salvation as the fact that He is God. Only man can bear the punishment of man’s sin. The Son of God became one with us so that He could stand in our place under the judgment for our sins. This is why He was given the name Jesus, because he would save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

A New Kind of Humanity

The holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35)

Jesus Christ was like us in every respect except one. He is Holy. This means that he did not at any time commit a single sin. But it means more than that. He was holy in his thoughts, in his intentions and his character. His nature was holy.

The holiness of Jesus opens up a whole new world of hope for us. We have become so used to fallen humanity, that it is difficult for us to imagine a human being who is not subject to sin, and its consequence—death. “To err is human,” we say, as if that erring were inseparable from being human.

But Jesus blazes the trail of a new humanity that will be holy; free from sin; no longer be subject to death. This has always been the purpose of God.

That’s what Jesus was talking about when He said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). This is the life that He offers to you. He has come to lead us into a holy life. For those who believe, that journey begins now and it will be complete in heaven. When we see Him, we will be like Him (1 John 3:1).

Pause for Prayer

Gracious Father,

Thank you for sending your Son into the world to become my Savior. Thank you that He is fully God so that he is able to save, and fully man so that he is able to save me. Thank you that in Him I may be reconciled to you.

I confess that I find it too difficult to imagine any other world than this one. But I believe your that this world is passing away and know that my life in it in short. Thank you the Christ has come to bring me into a new life in your presence.

I trust Him to make me holy and to bring me into your presence. Thank you that He has become like me so that I may become like him. Thank you that I may come to You, became He came for me. I come in His name, Amen.

 

Notes:
1. Original idea from a piece in Eugene Petersen, Working the Angles, p.139ff. Petersen adapted it from Walker Percy, The message in a bottle.

2. J I Packer – Knowing God. Reference to follow.
2. CS Lewis, Miracles, p.113. Reference needs to be checked.

Manger - Escritura (audio)

Luke 1:26–38

Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

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

35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

(ESV)

Use these questions to further engage with God's Word. Discuss them with another person or use them as personal reflection questions.

1The message in the bottle said, “Help is coming.” Why do we need help?
2If Jesus were a man but not God, what difference would it make?
3Jesus came to make us holy. If you were holy, how would you be different?
4If Jesus could change your life, would you want Him to?

Detalles

ESCRITURA Luke 1:26-38

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