Text: Luke 1: 26-38 — 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.
Introduction: Jesus is Lord! That was the very first confession or creed of the Christian church. It also serves as the basis for our preaching series which is now in its seventh week called “The Lordship of Jesus Christ.” So far we’ve looked at how Jesus came to be the Lord of heaven and earth according to Philippians chapter two and what is expected when we yield to Jesus as Lord of our lives according to Matthew chapter sixteen. It impacts what we say about Him, our willingness to surrender to Him and even what we seek in life moving forward. We’ve also discovered how Jesus desires to be Lord of our minds, worries, pocketbooks and work. Today I want to consider another immensely important area of our lives over which Jesus asserts His lordship as we submit to Him, and that is our families.
I invite you to join me and see what we can learn from a woman who loved her son and her God. She understood perhaps more than any other woman mentioned in Scripture that both she and her son existed for the glory of God. Mary, the woman who gave birth to and raised Jesus, fully submitted herself to Her Heavenly Father’s will. When we grasp all that this would require of her, it’s easy to hold her up as an example to pattern our lives after. So, join me as we look at our texts in the Gospel of Luke and let’s see what we can discover about both a parent’s role and God’s in the family that is uniquely designed for His glory.
Remember that the word “Lord” is used in both the Old Testament and the New to refer to God as our master and owner. This means that He has the right to do with us whatever He chooses, even if it doesn’t seem to fit with the plans we’ve made for ourselves and our families. Still, what parent doesn’t want to protect his or her children from physical and emotional hardship? The thought for most of us is … please bless and honor them Lord, but don’t subject them to pain and suffering! I understand how a parent could feel this way, yet we know that this may be the very thing that God has planned for them as a key ingredient in their spiritual development and preparation for a lifetime of effective ministry. In this morning’s study, I want to challenge parents to reconsider what is best for their children. In fact, I would go so far as to say that there is no higher calling for our kids than that they serve the Master and please Him through their faithful obedience. Moms and dads, if this is what you want for your children, then follow Mary’s example by taking two intentional steps in your relationship with God.
First, Offer Yourself to God. This is what Mary did. And, by the way, it is absolutely essential if we hope to raise our children to follow God. We must first choose the same life for ourselves. What does this involve? It begins with parents presenting themselves to the Lord as a living sacrifices. Note what Mary said in response to the words of the angel Gabriel in Luke 1. (Luke 1:28, 30-33; 35, 38 – “Greetings O favored one, the Lord is with you … Do not be afraid, Mary for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. 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, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end … The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; there the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” … And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word”). Mary was a young woman, probably in her early to mid teens, when Gabriel spoke to her and she elected to submit herself to God’s plan for her future. When you read her song of praise in verses 46 through 55 it is clear that she saw herself as greatly honored by God (note her prayer…for He who is mighty has done great things for me) in His choice of her to become the mother of the Son of the Most High. Yet this gift from God, as special as it was, would exact a high price. First, it would cost Mary and Joseph their reputation and respect in the community. Though she had never had sexual relations with any man including Joseph (How will this be since I am a virgin?), Mary was about to become pregnant through the working of the Holy Spirit as the power of God overshadowed her. Think about the many people who would whisper under their breath that she had fallen into immorality because she was unwilling to control her passions. Many would only know her as a loose woman unworthy of marriage. Second, Mary ran the risk of alienating her one true love, Joseph, to whom she was engaged to be married. Consider how difficult it would be for him to take her as his wife when he knew she had become pregnant by another! There was a third price that Mary had to pay for her willingness to become the mother of the Savior of the world. It is found in Luke 2:34-35 where Simeon a godly man who had been waiting for the consolation of Israel spoke these words to her as they presented Jesus in the Temple: “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign this is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” This was God’s way of telling Mary that her son would be a divider of men, causing many to fall and others to rise. They would speak against Him, and in doing so, their hidden thoughts (the secret sins of the heart) would be revealed. In addition, though Mary was happy when Jesus came into the world, that would all change so that her tears of joy would become tears of sorrow sometime in the future. Application: How was Mary able to remain so optimistic as the mother of Son of God … knowing that He would bring her both great joy and great pain? The answer is simple: She was completed submitted to God’s good, acceptable and perfect will for her life. Her only desire was to fulfill the mission for which He had chosen her. Illustration: Parents … if you want your children to serve the Lord and walk in His ways you must offer yourself first for the same purpose. The example you set will be the pattern they follow. You’ve probably heard of the Barna Group. They are a Christian organization that conducts all kinds of surveys to understand trends in our culture. A while back they asked teenagers who their role models were. Overwhelmingly the answer was their parents, followed by other family members. After analyzing their findings, these insights were offered into the mind of teenagers: (1) for better or worse, teens are emulating people they know the best; (2) spirituality is only of modest concern to the aspirations of teenagers; and (3) the role models they’ve chosen indicate that teens want to get ahead, accomplish goals, overcome obstacles and be encouraged along the way. So never underestimate the impact of your example and encouragement toyour children. A Focus on the Family Publication reported an online auction of a mother’s touch. Dan Baber honored his mother by posting an auction on eBay titled, “The Best Mother in the World.” The winning bidder would receive an e-mail from his mom, Sue Hamilton, that Baber promised would “make you feel like you’re the most special person on earth.” How did people respond to his offer? During the auction’s seven day run, 42,711 people – enough to fill most professional baseball stadiums – took a look. Ninety-two bid, pushing the price from a $1 opening to a closing $610. Imagine that … $610 just to hear someone’s mom say, “Way to go. I’m proud of you. You are a special person.” It seems strange to think that young people will pay for something most mothers give for free. Children desperately needs parents who will walk beside and encourage them, who will show them how to get along in life. You can be that mom or dad by first offering yourself to God … just as Mary did.
Then, Offer Your Children to God. That’s what Mary and Joseph did. Here’s the chronology of the events that take place in our passage. On just the eighth day of His young life, Jesus was circumcised (verse 21) in keeping with the covenant that God had made with the Jews in Genesis 17:10-14. Then forty days after the birth of their son, they presented themselves in the temple (verse 22) for purification (See Leviticus 12). Finally, Joseph and Mary redeemed their son by the offering of a sacrifice (See Exodus 13:13) Why was all of this important? Partly because it was necessary for Jesus to fulfill the entire Law which demanded these things be done. But also because it was God’s way of reminding Mary and Joseph that they had no claim of ownership to Jesus. He was God’s son; a member of His covenant people set apart by Him for His glory and honor. Now listen … not only was this true of every firstborn male in Israel, but it is also true of all children everywhere.
· They are God’s Possession. The scriptures teach that sons are a heritage from the Lord; children are a reward from Him (Psalm 127:4). The word for heritage means “possession.” In a very real sense, your children are God’s children. He gives them to you in order that they might be raised in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. That’s why we should take this responsibility so seriously. As stewards of God’s gracious gifts, we are expected to be faithful in managing them for the highest good and greatest glory to God. Some day, the Bible says, we will give an account of ourselves to God for our faithfulness or lack of it as parents (Romans 14:12 – So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God). Moms and dads… if your children were merely your possessions, you could do with them whatever you pleased, and not worry in the slightest how the Lord would feel about it, but they are not! They are His … something you must always keep in mind.
· They exist for God’s Purpose. God owns our children and that gives Him the right to use them any way He wants to. Every life matters, but not every person is able to say that he or she has achieved what God intended for them in this life. Sometimes it is father who is to blame for the children’s failures and other times it is the mother (this certainly was the case with one of the kings of Judah – Ahaziah – who walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly – 2 Chronicles 22:3. When it came to Mary and Joseph the parents of Jesus, obviously they were very committed to leading their son to fulfill His Heavenly Father’s plan for Him.
Application: So, mom and dads, there’s the spiritual recipe that will create the outcome you desire for your children. Start with offering yourself to God and then offer your children. Here are three final thoughts …
· Offer Your Children Continually. Just as you are to offer yourselves as living sacrifices to God over and over again, so you should your children as well. Let me encourage you to pray something like this regularly … Lord, I want to do your will. I want to please you in every way. I pray that this would also be the desire of my children and to that end I offer them to you for your use and glory. I don’t know where this will eventually lead them, but I know you are good, and I trust you. May they accomplish great things for the kingdom and may their lives prove to be eternally significant. Amen.
· Prepare Your Children Diligently. Do not drop the ball on your duty to raise them as Christ-followers. Position your children so that they will come to know and love the Lord at the earliest possible age and serve Him throughout their days. Teach your children the Word and labor to help them learn the benefits of personal discipline through your guidance and example.
· Empower Your Children Fearlessly. Neither Joseph or Mary knew how Jesus would die … on the cross meant for the worst dregs of society. Mary, however, was forewarned that a sword would pierce her soul as His mother. Still, there is no indication that our Lord’s parents faltered in their God-ordained roles as parents to the Christ-child. I’m sure there were times when Mary (Joseph is not mentioned in the gospels other than during the first few years of Jesus’ life because he’d probably already died) wanted to protect her Son, but in the end, it was more important that He fulfill His destiny and become the Savior of the World. Parents, you can not know what God has in store for your children, but you must nonetheless stand behind and encourage them to walk in the way prepared for each of them. IT IS ONLY THEN THAT YOU WILL HAVE SUCCEEDED AS A MOTHER.
Conclusion: Ian McClaren tells about visiting a parishioner, an old Scottish lady, who he found standing in her kitchen weeping. She wiped her eyes with the corner of her apron, and when he asked her what was the matter, she confessed; “I am so miserable and unhappy.” “Why?” “Because I have done so little for Jesus. When I was just a little girl, the Lord spoke to my heart and I determined to live for Him.” “Well, haven’t you?” he asked. “Yes, I’ve tried to live for Him, but I have hardly accomplished anything.” “What have you done?” “I’ve been here serving my family, taking care of the boys, doing the things a mother must do … That’s all I’ve been able to accomplish with my life.” McClaren sat back in the armchair, looked at her and smiled. “And tell me, where are your boys?” he asked. “Oh, my boys! You know where Mark is. You ordained him for the ministry yourself before he went to China. There he is preaching for the Lord. Why do you ask?” “And where is Luke?” “Luke? He went from your own church; didn’t you send him out to Africa? I had a letter from him the other day.” Then a warm smile broke out on her face as she continued. “A Revival has broken out on the mission station, and he said they were having a wonderful time in the service of the Lord.” “Tell me, what’s going on with Matthew?” “He is with his brother in China. And isn’t it fine that the two boys can be working together? I am so happy about that (and I know his father would be as well). O, and John came to see me the other night – he is my baby, only nineteen, but he is a great boy – and said: “Mother, I have been praying, and tonight, in my room, the Lord spoke to my heart, and what do you suppose the Lord told me? I have to go join Luke in Africa. But don’t cry, Mother, the Lord told me I was to stay here and look after you until you go home to glory!” McClaren answered: “And you say your life has been wasted in raising a family! I don’t think so. In fact, I’d like to have your mansion when you’re called home to heaven!” If you don’t think that when you’re raising your children God cares about what they will become, you couldn’t be more wrong. Parents, I want to encourage you to raise your children to follow in your footsteps and walk with the Lord. Don’t waste the opportunity to make your mark on the world through those who will be your greatest disciples of Christ. I’m betting that just God did for Mary and Joseph, He will enable you to achieve a much greater return on your labor for the kingdom through your children. So start by offering yourselves and then presenting your children to Him.