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A CHRISTMAS LESSON FROM THE VIRGIN MARY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, December 18, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).


The Scofield Study Bible calls this section of Luke’s Gospel, “The Magnificat.” These words of Mary began with her exclamation, in verse 46,

“My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46).

The Greek word translated “magnify” is měgalunō “to declare great,” “to speak of the greatness.” So, Mary speaks of the greatness of God. Megalunō, magnify, hence, in Latin, “Magnificat” - Mary’s declaration of the greatness of the Lord.

But now I want you to think about the fourth verse of the Magnificat, verse 49. Why does Mary magnify and declare the greatness of God? Why does she rejoice in God? She makes it very plain in our text,

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

Here we are, on the Sunday before Christmas. And we are confronted with these words from the mother of Christ. What she said brings three thoughts to my mind.

I. First, when you hear Mary’s words you should
instantly think of Christmas.

I said you “should” instantly think of Christmas when you hear these words. But I’m afraid hardly anyone does nowadays! People think of many things at Christmas time, but very few think of the essential meaning of it.

The very word “Christmas” is virtually banned here in America. They call it “the Holidays.” They say that we mustn’t call it “Christmas” in a pluralized society, where there are many religions. That seems a little ridiculous to me. If you follow that logically, it would be wrong to call our California state capital Sacramento, because it refers to the “sacrament” of the Lord’s Supper in the Catholic Church. It would be wrong, by that logic, to call the city that Dr. Lester Roloff preached in Corpus Christi, Texas, because “Corpus Christi” is Latin for “The Body of Christ.” I think this ban on the word Christmas is about that foolish! A name is simply a name!

No one should be offended by the word “Christmas.” They may not believe in Christ, but why should this holiday name bother them? They speak of “Sunday,” don’t they? The ancient people worshipped the sun on that day. That’s where the name “Sunday” came from. But it does not make people today sun-worshippers to speak of Sunday. It is simply a name. Saturday was named after Saturn by those who worshipped that planet. But we today do not worship the planet Saturn or the sun when we speak of Saturday or Sunday. No one’s religious feelings are offended when we speak of Saturday or Sunday. And no common person is offended by the word “Christmas.” I have never met anyone who was upset by it. It’s made up by the liberal media, and pressure groups like the ACLU. They pretend that Jews, Muslims, or Buddhists are offended by the word. But I have never met a Jew, a Muslim or a Buddhist who was upset when I said, “Merry Christmas” - have you? No, the liberal pressure groups made this up, and the reason they did is quite simple - they hate Christianity. A few Scrooges in the ACLU say, with Dickens’ miserable old fool, “Bah, humbug! Christmas is humbug!” But these sad old men should not frighten our young people! I say, walk up to anyone, anywhere, at school, work or play, and give them a cheery smile and the happy words, “Merry Christmas!”

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

II. Second, when you hear Mary’s words you should
think of the incarnation.

Some person who is new to our church may say, “What is that?” The word “incarnation” is hardly thought of at Christmas time today. And yet, what is Christmas all about, if not the incarnation? We talk about everything else - Santa Claus, reindeer, snowmen, Christmas trees, colored lights, presents, parties, special puddings and roast turkeys - almost anything except the incarnation! And yet the incarnation lies back of all the other things - the tinsel and the toys.

That’s the reason Christmas is really a non-event to the world. They get all ready for it - and then nothing happens! No matter how much partying, drinking or eating they do, the day after Christmas they look back on it as just another day.

I think that’s one of the reasons people are forgetting Christmas today. After World War II, it was a big event! Wow! Christmas trees! Christmas cards! Christmas songs from Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra! A big event! But gradually, as the years have come and gone, we’ve become inured to it, hardened against it. Isn’t that exactly the way many people are today - especially older people in America? It seems to me that this is the case. It seems to me that we’ve lost the joy and wonder and excitement of it - largely because we lost the incarnation of the only begotten Son of God! You see, if Christ was not the incarnation of God in human flesh, if this event in Bethlehem did not take place - then there is no reason for the season! Mary said,

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

God Himself had come into her womb, fashioned in human flesh, the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth”
     (John 1:1-3, 14).

“And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35).

That “holy thing,” that Divine substance, that essence of God, was placed into the womb of the Virgin Mary! That’s what Christmas is about!

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see;
   Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell,
   Jesus our Emmanuel.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
   “Glory to the Newborn King.”
(“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

III. Third, when you hear Mary’s words you should think
what this means to you.

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things”
     (Luke 1:49).

Something wonderful, amazing, and supernatural happened to Mary. When the truth of the Gospel strikes a person they are never the same again. This was true of every person in the New Testament who encountered God in Christ. They were never again the same. It was true of the Apostle Paul. He had been very religious. But there was no life in his religion until he encountered Christ on the road to Damascus, and was converted in a house on the street called Straight when he reached the city. When Christ saved him, the Bible tells us,

“Immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith [‘instantly’ - Strong], and arose, and was baptized” (Acts 9:18).

“Immediately” his eyes were opened. He received sight, both physical and spiritual, “forthwith” - instantly! This experience happened to every one of the Apostles. At one moment they were trudging along in dead religion, blind to the things of God. The next instant,

“Their eyes were opened, and they knew him” (Luke 24:31).

They were immediately, instantaneously transformed by God in Christ. Suddenly,

“Their eyes were opened, and they knew him” (Luke 24:31).

Instantly, after this experience, which is called “conversion,” each one of the Apostles could have said with a strong voice, the words of Mary,

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things”
     (Luke 1:49).

May I ask you, has anything of that magnitude happened in your life by the power of God in Christ?

Many of you have heard the Gospel preached countless times. But what has listening to the Gospel done to you? Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

How many times have you heard the Gospel of Christ preached this year? Well, what has it done to you? Has it done anything? Has it made any difference in your life? Has it made any vital difference to you? It is meant to! It is meant to change everything. “If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17). That is Christianity. [Christ] talks about it as a rebirth, being born again. That is [supposed to be] the effect of this Gospel (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, My Soul Magnifies the Lord, Crossway Books, 2000, page 83).

Has Christ come to you like that? Has He made any difference to you? Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

Is it not a terrible thing that it is possible for us to go on listening to the Gospel and yet, in a sense, to be so detached and remote that it does nothing to us and we might just as well never have heard it? That is a terrible state to be in. And that is not my own personal opinion; our Lord Himself made it very plain…He said that in the end we shall be judged by our response and reaction to [hearing the preaching of] the Gospel…He said that all men and women will eventually have to face this word of his, and they will have to answer… [Christ said], “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48) (ibid., pp. 83-84).

We must all have to answer, if we have heard the Gospel. And the question will be, Why didn’t you believe it? Why didn’t you come to Christ for salvation and a new life? It was yours, if you had taken Christ by faith. Why didn’t you do it? We will be confronted with many Christian people who did believe it and came to Christ. And you will be left without excuse. They were saved by hearing the Gospel and coming to Christ. Why weren’t you?

To become a true Christian means that you have had an experience of the grace of God in Christ. That is fundamental, the very essence of Christianity.

Mary said,

“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

Have you had an experience, like the Apostle Paul and the Virgin Mary, where God did great things for you? Has there been a moment when you were confronted with Christ, yielded to Him, and were born again? If not, you won’t be able to say with Paul and Mary,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

If you were to die tonight, would your last dying thoughts be,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things”? (Luke 1:49).

If not, you are in a very pitiful condition. You may go to Mass, but you cannot partake of Communion - because of some sin in your past life. That can happen in a Baptist church as well. When the time to partake of Communion in the Lord’s Supper comes, you feel that you are too unworthy and sinful to take the bread and cup. So, you stand back while others come to eat the bread. That must cost you pain and convict you of your sin every time Communion is served. I say that it is miserable to go on under a sense of guilt and sin like that. Why not break free? Why not come to Christ and throw yourself on His mercy by faith? It can happen in an instant, as it did to the Apostle Paul. It can happen in a moment, as it did to Mary. Both Paul and Mary encountered Christ by faith, were forgiven and restored to full communion with God. And this wonderful experience of God’s gracious love happened to them the instant they came to Christ and trusted Him by faith. Will you follow the example of Paul and Mary? Will you come in simple faith and trust Christ alone? He will save you by His grace, and wash you clean by His precious Blood!

There is no need to wait any longer. Your guilt is great. It troubles you often. Isn’t it true that you have thought, “How can I go on living - how can I die - without the salvation that Jesus offers?” If you have ever had such melancholy, convincing and convicting thoughts, throw out your fears. Cast out your doubts. Come boldly to Christ and He will pardon you and give you everlasting peace with God. Then you will be able to stand and say with a joy-filled heart,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

Many people stumble when they are confronted with the Gospel. Mary did. When she first heard, “She was troubled at his saying” (Luke 1:29). Then she was confused and unbelieving when she said, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (Luke 1:34). She stumbled. She was confused. She questioned and doubted. But then she submitted to God at last, and said,

“Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38).

She had become aware that it was God who was doing something in her. And she finally gave in and submitted to God in Christ.

Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

If to be a [real] Christian means to receive life from God, if to be a [real] Christian means that you are born again, if to be a real Christian means [to] pass from darkness to light…then is it not quite inevitable that anyone to whom that has happened must be aware that something is happening?...You cannot [become] a Christian without being aware that God is dealing with you, is concerned about you, is doing something to you. God has His hands upon you. You may at first react in a hostile manner against that; you may not like it; you may want to shake it off. That has often happened. Many people have done that. You may wish sometimes that you had never heard of God, that you had never heard of Christ; you wish you could be enjoying [your old life in the world] as you [had] always done. But something has changed. Sometimes it is nothing more than the beginning - just an uneasiness, just an awareness that something is troubling you. You wish you could [get rid of these thoughts], but you cannot; it is something inside you. The [God] who made you at the beginning is making you [over] again; His hands and fingers are upon you and [He] is molding you [and awakening you] (ibid., pp. 91-93).

When God is through dealing with you, you will be a real Christian. Then you will be able to say with Mary,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things” (Luke 1:49).

Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? Do you believe that God sent Jesus, born of Mary, to die on the Cross as payment for the penalty of your sins? Do you believe that Jesus can wash away your sins by His Blood? Do you believe that He has risen from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of God in Heaven, praying for you? If you believe those things about Christ, why not come to Him by faith? Why not come to Him and rest on Him and be saved by Him? If you come to Jesus, He will not cast you out. He will not turn you away. He will cleanse your sin and save you. Then you will be able to say with Mary,

“He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 1:26-38, 46-49.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“There’s a Song in the Air” (by Josiah G. Holland, 1819-1881).


THE OUTLINE OF

A CHRISTMAS LESSON FROM THE VIRGIN MARY

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49).

(Luke 1:46)

I.   When you hear Mary’s words you should instantly think of
Christmas, Luke 1:49.

II.  When you hear Mary’s words you should think of the
incarnation, John 1:1-3, 14; Luke 1:35.

III. When you hear Mary’s words you should think what this
means to you, Acts 9:18; Luke 24:31; II Corinthians 5:17;
John 12:48; Luke 1:29, 34, 38.