Hear the Word of the Lord:
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you![a]”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a Son, and you will name Him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. 33 And He will reign over Israel[b] forever; His Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the Word of God will never fail.[c]” (For with God nothing shall be impossible)
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” (…be it unto me according to thy Word.) And then the angel left her.”
During this time of the year, you will hear people talk about the "Magic of Christmas" or the "spirit of the season." I've heard professed atheists say they love Christmas because there is just something special in the air at this time of the year.
Let us be clear, there is something special about this season, but it has nothing to do with "magic." It has everything to do with the miraculous. We often speak of the wonderful teachings of Jesus and the amazing miracles of Jesus. The teachings are wonderful and the miracles are amazing, but the greatest miracle of all is the miracle of the incarnation--His birth.
The Apostle John gives it like this: John 1:1-29 (NLT)
Christ, the Eternal Word
1 In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God. (Ref: Gen. 1:1)
2 He existed in the beginning with God.
3 God created everything through Him,
and nothing was created except through Him.
4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a]
and His life brought light to everyone.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.[b]
14 So the Word became flesh[d] and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.[e] And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s One and only Son.
15 John testified about Him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the One I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me Who is far greater than I am, for He existed long before me.’”
Can we possibly wrap our minds around this miracle--the miracle of the Word becoming flesh--the Creator becoming the created--Eternal God becoming mortal man bound by time and space.
The greatest minds in the universe have wrestled with this "the greatest miracle of all" and have been found wanting. All we can do is stand in wonderment and amazement and rejoice at this miracle of miracles. For with God nothing is shall be impossible!
Now consider with me:
1. Jesus was born Son of Man that we might be born the sons of God.
He came to His own people, and even they rejected Him. 12 But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become sons (children) of God. 13 They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
The Pharisee Nicodemus, a scholar of the law, realized there was something different about Jesus. He said, "No man can do the miracles you do unless God is with him." To which Jesus replied, "Except a man be born again, he can not see the Kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Later Jesus told Nicodemus, "Marvel not that I say unto you, you must be born again."
The Apostle Paul declares, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation (creature), old things have passed away and behold, all things are made new" (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Again Paul explains this great change--I like to call it the great exchange--when he proclaimed the grace of God so freely given in Jesus Christ:
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NLT) 9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich.
The Son of God came from the riches of Heaven's glory to the poverty of a cattle stall and was laid in a feed trough. Why? In order that the Son of God could become the Son of man, and rescue us the sons of men from sin and destruction. Taking our sin as His own exchanging our poverty for His riches. He who knew no sin became sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. What an exchange. What a miracle!
The old hymn declares: He’s a Savior to be proud of bless His Name. For to rescue me from ruin Jesus came. On the cross He died for me, paid sins debt and now I’m free. He’s a Savior to be proud of, bless His Name.
Jesus was born Son of Man that we might be born the sons of God.
2. Jesus was born the Son of man that He might die.
Jesus is the only person ever born for the express purpose of dying.
"For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." I will say something that may shock you--"For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son (to die a cruel death on a Roman cross)... You say, the Bible does not state that, you are right, but that's what John 3:16 is all about.
I never will forget a Christmas sermon I preached in my early ministry. In essence, I declared that the lovely Baby in the manger is One and the same Man Who died on a cross. I don’t recall the exact words I used, but I’m sure I gave a rather vivid picture of Calvary and all it’s suffering. One of my more sensitive members, met me at the door horrified, rebuking me for talking about the cross and Jesus dying for our sins on the Sunday before Christmas. I think she used these words, "How dare you....."
One pastor made a manger and put crucifix in it. He covered the manger with a baby blanket. He had his congregation come by one by one and look in the manger. When they removed the blanket they saw the crucifix—a stark reminder why Jesus came as a Baby. I wish I had thought of that. I'm sure my member would have fainted dead away. The smelling salts would have been needed for sure.
It is not too bold to state that every step Jesus made was one step closer to the cross! Yes, Jesus was born to die.
Jesus said, "For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many." Mankind was enslaved in sin and needed a Redeemer—Someone was needed to pay the price to free us from the bondage of sin. Jesus did that. He satisfied Divine justice paying for our sin. Jesus came to seek and to save those who are lost.
But the Bethlehem story doesn't end at the manger on a cross. Jesus standing in the middle of a cemetery made this glorious declaration, "I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall live: and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die." Then Jesus asked this penetrating question, "Do you believe this?" Because He lives we can each experience a Christmas Miracle.
May I ask you a question? Have you received your Christmas Miracle? Have you been born again (from above)? Can you say with confidence that you are a son (child) of God?
How can you have this Miracle happen in you life you ask?
That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus Christ, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved (Romans 10:9).
Susan Best in her poem, “A Miracle of Dreams,” gets to the very heart of the miracle power of God to redeem and restore.
A MIRACLE OF DREAMS
That night when in Judean skies the mystic star dispensed it’s light,
A blind man moved in his sleep, and dreamed that he had sight!
That night when shepherds heard the song of Heaven’s angelic choiring near,
A deaf man stirred in slumber’s spell and dreamed that he could
That night when in the cattle stall slept child and mother cheek by jowl,
A cripple turned his twisted limbs, and dreamed that he was whole!
That night when o’er the newborn babe the tender Mary rose to lean,
A loathsome leper smiled in sleep, and dreamed that he was clean!
That night when to the mother’s breast the little King was held secure,
A harlot slept a peaceful sleep, and dreamed that she was pure!
That night when in the manger laid the Son of God Who came to save
A man moved in the sleep of death, and dreamed there was no grave!
[Editor's comment: Wesley Russ is one of the best preachers in the Pentecostal Holiness Church. I know, I have heard him preach. When I was in my first pastorate at the Brownville Pentecostal Holiness Church near Evergreen, Alabama in Conecuh County, I requested a preacher and a quartet to be sent from Emmanuel College to preach a weekend revival. They sent Wesley Russ. He was simply outstanding and I knew then he was a man born to preach. When I was called to go into the Air Force as an IPHC chaplain to fill the vacancy of Chaplain, Colonel, Eugene Myers, I recommended to my church board and congregation that they contact Wesely Russ. He came, and shortlly afterwards married the former Miss Janice Robinson, a graduate of Emmanuel College and a native of Washington, DC. They served that church faithfully for five years and took it to the next higher level.
From Brownville, Wesley and Janice went to Gadsen, AL to plant a church and to continue his education at Jacksonville State University. Meanwhile, Robert L. Rex asked Wesley to come to Atlanta to start a church there. He did and built the Church of the Comforter. After successfully pastoring that church for several years, he was called to pastor the College Park Church in Maryland, Maranatha Fellowship. God gave him a multi-cultural church with people from countries all over the world. His church became a leader in the IPHC in giving to World Missions, and his congregation gave more per capita than any other church in the denomination. As I recall Wesley pastored that church for over 29 years.
Wesley is a church planter and has planted churches in Russia, Romania, and the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Wesley was elected to be the superintendent of the Mid-Atlantic Conference. He mentored and trained Jamil Khan to be his successor at Maranatha Fellowship. Now, Jamil is a Navy chaplain. He just completed a two-year tour in San Diego, CA, and now is a chaplain to the Marines at Camp Lejuene, NC.
Although Wesley Russ is retired as the conference superintendent he is open to fill pulpits, preach revivals, and minister on special occasions. He is a gifted communicator and knows how to stir the heart and inform the mind. He preaches with an anointing from the Holy Spirit. If you wish to communicate with Wesley Russ write me at: firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will connect you with Wesley.]