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Christ Our Wonder

A passenger traveling on a train across Saskatchewan was so enthralled by the journey that every few moments he was heard to say, ?Wonderful!? The passing scenery, the faces of the people in the towns, even the smallest details drew out exclamations of awe. Finally one fellow traveler, overcome by curiosity, asked, ?How is it that the rest of us are worn out with this monotonous trip while you are having the time of your life? He answered them, ?Until a few days ago I was a blind man, but now for the first time in my life I can see and what is ordinary to the rest of you, is out of this world to me.? It is my desire that before you leave here this morning there will be a sense of wonder, an amazement even at what had previously looked to be ordinary.

I remember traveling in the Rocky Mountains with our children when they were just 5 years old and younger. As we peered up at the craggy ridges we'd point to first one peak and then another and the word that came out was, ?Incredible!? I hadn't realized that we'd used that term as much as we had until our daughter began to point with her little hand and say, 'mom, Dad, look, the Incredibles!? Let's look at the incredible, wonderful, amazing view of Christ in Luke 1, verses 26 to 38.

I. The Wonder of Christ Is Wrapped in Detail.

The coming of Christ was a precision event, perfectly timed, accurately plotted on the map, strategically aimed at specific . . .

A passenger traveling on a train across Saskatchewan was so enthralled by the journey that every few moments he was heard to say, ?Wonderful!? The passing scenery, the faces of the people in the towns, even the smallest details drew out exclamations of awe. Finally one fellow traveler, overcome by curiosity, asked, ?How is it that the rest of us are worn out with this monotonous trip while you are having the time of your life? He answered them, ?Until a few days ago I was a blind man, but now for the first time in my life I can see and what is ordinary to the rest of you, is out of this world to me.? It is my desire that before you leave here this morning there will be a sense of wonder, an amazement even at what had previously looked to be ordinary.

I remember traveling in the Rocky Mountains with our children when they were just 5 years old and younger. As we peered up at the craggy ridges we'd point to first one peak and then another and the word that came out was, ?Incredible!? I hadn't realized that we'd used that term as much as we had until our daughter began to point with her little hand and say, 'mom, Dad, look, the Incredibles!? Let's look at the incredible, wonderful, amazing view of Christ in Luke 1, verses 26 to 38.

I. The Wonder of Christ Is Wrapped in Detail.

The coming of Christ was a precision event, perfectly timed, accurately plotted on the map, strategically aimed at specific individuals and carried out by the highest of God's agents. When we read the account it presents detail that prompts all kinds of questions. It tells us that it was the angel Gabriel who came and spoke to Mary, yet nowhere in this account does Gabriel tell Mary his name. Did the writer of this Gospel, the apostle Luke, interview Mary and conclude that her description of the angel was similar to what Zacharias? had just experienced and thus it must be the angel Gabriel? Possibly. Did Luke, the only Gentile apostle, know of the events recorded in the Book of Danial where it declares it was Gabriel who was used to foretell the timing and coming of the Messiah? The only thing that we can conclude with certainty is that what Luke wrote was inspired by the Holy Spirit and was without error and the detail of Gabriel's name is there to point us to the fact that this was done by the angel whom God had in eternity past Himself named (the name means,?God's Mighty One?) , the angel who stood in God's presence, this highest of angels brought the highest of messages? to Mary. How humbling to think that the Christ who was there when this angel was created and whom Jesus probably named, this Gabriel is now announcing the birth and name of Jesus.

Then Luke tells us of the details of ancestry, both Joseph's and Mary's ancestry are connected to king David, inferring that the baby Mary will carry will be of royal blood and legally be able to begin again the rule from the throne of David. He would be the king of Israel , and according to God's promise to David, His rule and kingdom will never end. The detail tells us He is human in descent and yet divine in duration. Mary is even given His name, Jesus, which means ?Jehovah is salvation?. The birth of Christ is wrapped in detail and it is amazing.

II. He is Implanted in Wonder.

Have a look at verse 28, ?And coming in, he said to her, ?Hail favored one! The Lord is with you.? The term ?hail? carries the implication of a joy-filled greeting, to rejoice exceedingly. Think of that chorus, ?All Hail King Jesus? and you're getting close to the nuance of the word. So Mary is greatly troubled at this greeting, let alone at whom it is that greets her. The angel goes on to tell her that she will have a child, it will be son and she is to name the child. Even the details of the reign of this child as king of Israel and that He will be called the Son of the Most High or Almighty are told to her. He tells her that His kingdom will be over all the tribes of Israel , the house of Jacob, and will be over all the land of Israel , the throne of David. He adds that this Son will reign eternally in His kingdom. As amazing as this announcement is, consider Mary's reply in verse 34. She does not query the details, she does not ask for proof? she asks, ?How can this be since I am still a virgin? What is Mary really saying here? She was after all betrothed to Joseph and that would logically be how she would have a child. She seems to be asking two things:

1. Who will be the Father of this remarkable, miraculous, royal, Son?

2. Is this about to happen immediately?

Both of these questions point us to the faith that has been awakened in Mary through the outpouring of God's grace upon her. She sees the depth of what is being said, she understands at a level that is deeper than she would have without grace. She is in wonder of what is about to occur. Thus the angel answers her questions? the Father will not be of humanity but will instead be experienced as the power of the Most High overshadowing you, perhaps literally the shadow or cloud of God's presence coming over you. The Father of this royal and miraculous Son will be God Himself as His Spirit moves in the power of creation in your womb. When will this occur, soon. We can conclude that just after Gabriel departs that this occurs. His whole purpose in coming was to prepare Mary for what was imminent. This done, he departs and she experiences the wonder of the power of the Holy Spirit overshadowing her. Just look at the words of her 'magnificat? in verses 46-49 below to glimpse this experience that she was blessed with. The wonder of Christ was implanted as much in Mary's heart as He was in her womb.

III. The Wonder of Christ is Tied Together With the Impossible.

There are at least three accounts of women in the Bible who were unable to have children, and as time progressed, this inability was sealed in the diminished capacities of an older body. What is amazing about each of these women is that they experienced a conception with their husbands that was so far past the boundary of probability as to be called a miracle. Sarah, wife of Abraham, the Shunammite woman friend of Elisha and in our text today, Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias, all experienced a miraculous conception. You could say that the impossible had occurred, it was a miracle upon the miracle of birth itself. Is it possible that every one of these women was a picture or type of who Mary was to be? Was the event of their miraculous conception but a faint shadow of the greater conception that Mary would experience? The wonder of Christ is often tied together with the impossible, certainly God had that intention when Gabriel confirms his words with the reference to Elizabeth being pregnant and even now in her sixth month. But there are really so many things that were impossible that are tied to the wonder of Christ'the star that brought the Magi, it was a star that was so unusual to these star gazers that they literally followed its? course for weeks or even months and came to the specific region where Christ was born. The impossible fulfillment of prophecy so extensive that it would take hours to review, the impossible preservation of Mary's marriage by an angel in a dream, the impossible was what God overcame again and again in the wonder of Christ. He overcame laws of gravity, laws of matter, laws of death on the cross and the laws of sin in mankind. Then there is the impossibility of how Christ introduced by grace the existence of a faith into your heart that made you take a second look at Him. That faith grew like an appetite and the only thing that could satisfy that appetite was truth of the Word of God. Then the impossible happened and you called out to Him to forgive your sin and to be the Savior of your soul... and he did! This is the present of God to you this Christmas, the wonder of Christ. The wonder of Christ is wrapped in detail, implanted in wonder and tied together with the impossible.

Rev. Spence Laycock pastors at Church of the Open Bible, Ponoka, Alberta, Canada.
www.churchoftheopenbible.ab.ca