(Lk 1:27)

Sunday, December 8, 2019, The Year of Our Lord

Pastor Carolyn Sissom



The announcement of the Incarnation by the angel Gabriel to Mary is a scene of beauty and glory.  Even through scripture does not say, those of us who know our God and His word know that she was carefully prepared to be His chosen vessel for that transcendent hour and mission.


Luke 1:26 -27: Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary


Every Christmas season, the LORD graces me to preach a message on one of the  vessels and/or instruments chosen by Him to be partakers and players in the miracle of the first Christmas.  This year I am honored to preach about Mary, the mother of Jesus.   


We can be assured Mary was carefully prepared from her early childhood and even from her mother’s womb. Just as John the Baptist, Christ’s forerunner, was filled with the Holy Ghost from his mother’s womb (Lk. 1:15); and Jeremiah, likewise was so set apart (Jer. 1:5), , so Mary was set apart. 


(The time of the Annunciation is stated to be in the sixth month which falls at the time of the beginning of the autumn harvest season in Palestine.  The formal church still celebrates it at the time of the vernal equinox---the birth of spring.  However, I can’t explain why the Scripture says clearly the visitation of the annunciation was in the sixth month.)


For Mary, the bestowal of God’s favor was the greatest and most overwhelming experience which could come to a woman.  Countless women had aspired to this high honor of bearing the Messiah, and now, the One for Whom Israel had waited through the centuries was to be incarnated in human flesh and to appear openly as a man among men---IMMANUEL – God with us!


Gabriel was sent from heaven with the wondrous tidings: Hail, you who are highly favored, the LORD is with you.  You are blessed among women. (Lk. 1:28).


There is no trace of self-gratification or personal exaltation.  She didn’t run all over town and tell everyone, Gabriel just came to me and told me I am chosen to give birth to God. 


The set time to favor Zion had come.  Jehovah had made His choice---a virgin named Mary…of the house and lineage of David.  Her response befitted her high honor, and indicated a heart prepared and filled with grace:  Behold the handmaid of the LORD, be it unto me according to your word (Lk. 1:38).   At her word of submission, the Most High overshadowed her, and He, Who is the greatest of the entire heavenly host, emptied Himself and became the least.  He, in Whom all may safely hide, hid Himself away in the secret chamber of a weak earthen vessel, a 15 year old virgin.


Those who desire to follow Him into full Sonship realize that the pattern---the way into that Sonship---is revealed clearly in the second chapter of Philippians.:  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2: 5-8).


Has the hour of heavenly annunciation come to you?  Have angelic witnesses been sent to declare His favor?  Has He made it known that He desires to take up his abode in the earth in you, in an incarnation of His Nature and Name?  If so,  you are able to understand and to appreciate the wonder of that glorious hour when Gabriel announced the birth of God’s Son. 


To each of us came the wonder of that first great hour when we beheld by revelation our Savior.  The wonder of Jesus Christ incarnate in us became a burning, living reality.  This revelation was but the preliminary work of the Holy Spirit.  Before us are many operations of faith and grace which must be wrought within us before we walk in the power of the manifestation of the Son of God.


(The King James Bible uses the word, “wrought “to describe this ongoing work in us.  There are several words, but basically it means to “perform” and to “work” in us.)


Luke 1:39:  And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda

Those days” could indicate several days after the visitation of the angel Gabriel.  According to the word of Gabriel, her cousin Elizabeth was also to bear a child.  It was to her house that Mary went.  Out of all Israel, Elizabeth and Zechariah were the only ones who were prepared to receive Mary, and to understand the miracles which had taken place within her. 

They too had received an angelic visitation and had been separated unto God for the manifestation of His power.  Heavenly visitation with annunciation inevitably leads to separation.  Mary through her pregnancy and birth would now be separated from her former associations.  Each of His chosen will experience a separation from kindred, family and country.  Yet, the LORD will restore in due season.

It came to pass, that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost; and she spoke out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And whence is this to me that the mother of my LORD should come to me?  For, lo as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy.  Blessed is she who believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the LORD. (Lk. 1: 41-45)

A confirmation! Given by the Spirit of God through mortal lips.  A babe leaped!  A woman spoke! 

In the mouths of two or three witnesses shall every word be established (2 Co. 13:1).

We may assume that Mary had undergone a sore trial of faith after the departure of Gabriel.  We, who have walked the path of following the voice of God know that what God speaks and does requires not only submission, but a trial of faith.

For each Mary-heart in the earth, God has an Elizabeth somewhere, through whom the Holy Ghost will speak a confirming word at the appointed hour.

Not only did Mary’s heart leap---it soared as she magnified God and was lifted to a state of exaltation in Him.

Luke 1: 46-49: My soul does magnify the LORD, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.  For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.  For he that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is his name.

Mary was lifted into Heaven into a realm of pure exultation.  In this high hour, strength was given to her for the days ahead, and grace to bear her shame.  Indeed, all generations have called her blessed; but not the one in which she lived!

We all need these glorious times which enable us to bear the inevitable rejection and reproach which is the portion of those who are set apart for God’s “peculiar” purposes.

We must continue living in Christ, our hope of glory, until He lives in us.  Our fleshly desires will give way to the exercise of faith, obedience, and suffering.


 Heb. 5:8:  Though he was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.  


Mt. 22:14: Many are called, but few are chosen.  Only the called, chosen, and faithful will be found among the overcomers (Rev. 17:14).


Mary abode with Elizabeth about three months, then returned to her own house for the next phase of the cycle, humiliation.  From that house Mary was never again entirely free from stigma and reproach.  Her good was “evil spoken of” not only for a few days or months, but for a lifetime. 


Her Child, too, would bear this stigma to the grave and after .   Joseph, the dearest on earth to Mary, might turn against her, and their love be completely destroyed.  Neither was Mary ignorant of the law---a horrible death by stoning could be her fate. 


Obedience to the call of God often brings heartbreak to those whom we love the most.  But a broken heart is an acceptable sacrifice and Jesus came to heal the broken hearted.  It was at this point that God broke through the clouds of doubt and suspicion. 


While Joseph was pondering what steps to take,  behold, the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, son of David, fear not to take Mary as your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.  She shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His Name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins. (Mt. 1: 20-21)


If the Father permits us to taste of the cup of humiliation, let us humble ourselves under His mighty hand.  He will be faithful to defend us, and to intervene in our darkest hour.  We too shall find fellowship with those who, like Joseph, are willing to share reproach and shame.


Heb. 3:14:  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end.


Mt. 5: 11-12:  Blessed are you, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake.  Rejoice and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven.


When it was time for Mary to deliver, she had a rough and uncomfortable journey to Bethlehem along crowded roads.  A decree had gone forth out of Rome, and God did not spare Mary and Joseph from obeying it in spite of their high calling.  God, who did not spare Mary, did not spare His Son when His hour came. 


Mt. 8:20: The Son of man had no place to lay His head.  Blessed are those who are not offended in times of testing, when we are called to exercise our faith not only for our needs, but for the needs of others.


On the journey to Bethlehem, there is no evidence of angelic escort, though we know there surely was a host of angels to escort them. At the journey’s end came the urgent need that it was time to deliver God and there was no room at the inn.  So it came to pass that the Son of the Highest was cradled with the lowliest. 


Only by the Holy Spirit are we able to grasp the reality and significance of the incarnation---and then, only in part!


The birth was also a death and a wedding!  Divinity stooped to wed humanity!  For Mary and Joseph. It was an hour of glory.  Here He was---Mary’s little Son---flesh of her flesh, born of her, in the likeness of man.  He is born in each of us, and appears again and again in our human bodies.  Here is a great and awesome mystery---the beginning of the manifestation of the God-race---the sons of God!  In spite of this wonderful event, attended by angels, Shepherds, and Kings, there was no immediate salvation wrought.  Then there came another decree----this time from Herod!  There followed a reign of death and terror!  A sudden flight to an alien land.  However, I have heard it preached that the Magi gave them enough gold and treasure to pay for their flight to Egypt and their time in exile.  I like that story even though the scriptures do not confirm that.


There was a wait of thirty years before the open and full manifestation of Jesus Christ as our Savior and Messiah.


We too have known the glorious wonder of His incarnation within us.  We have witnessed the manifestation of His deity and glory.  We too have hoped that from that hour great salvation and deliverance would be wrought in many.  But, there have been many attacks from Satan.  We have discovered that not only must He be incarnate in us as a babe, but also that He must come to full stature before He can be openly manifest as a man-child.


Jesus’ life became a living sacrifice from the moment He wrought His first miracle at Cana of Galilee.  At the end, He laid down His physical life as well---a complete offering unto God.  He was the saving Victim of God, the meal-offering, the drink-offering---all offerings combined in one.


Some are called upon to lay down their physical lives also.  Zechariah speaks of the flock of the slaughter  (Zech. 11: 4,7).  This is the finest of the sheep.  This is the same “little flock” to which Jesus promised the kingdom. 


From time to time He gives us little glimpses and earnests of the glorified state into which we shall be taken when He has wrought these various phases of incarnation in us.  We shall have a body like His glorious resurrection body!  We shall have a nature perfect and holy as Him!  We shall be raised up together with Him!  So, That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:7).


Romans 8:30:  For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.


God does not hurry when He is preparing a chosen vessel of grace.  Though Christ be formed in us of a truth, and though we be fully aware of it, yet there is a hiding of His power until that great day of uttermost salvation when our God shall appear openly in those who have come to the fullness of the stature of Christ.


1 Pet. 1: 3-5:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed at the last time.


Carolyn Sissom, Pastor

Eastgate Ministries Church


Scripture from K.J.V. – I paraphrased and summarized this sermon from Ladies of Gold, Volume 2 – The Incarnation by Frances Metcalfe, Westbow Press, 1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, In. 47403

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