- Sermon Notes
Reasons to Rejoice
1. We live in a world that has mastered the art of complaining. Let’s be honest, it’s really easy to find something to grumble about.
ILLUS – The man marooned on a deserted island with three grass huts.
2. Sadly, it’
s really easy for Christians to master the art of complaining too.
3. But we, of all people, have reasons to rejoice and that’s why the Apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
4. Tonight, we will discover what those reasons for rejoicing are so that we may take off the garment of the grumbler and put on the mantle of praise.
1. After the prophet Malachi, God did not speak to Israel for 400 years. God broke the silence by sending the angel Gabriel to an elderly priest named Zacharias, to let him know that his barren wife, Elizabeth, would give birth to a son; who would be the forerunner to Messiah.
2. Six months into Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God dispatched Gabriel again; this time not to a priest in Jerusalem, but to Elizabeth’s relative, a young woman who lived in a Podunk town called Nazareth.
3. Nazareth was a wicked city with a bad reputation.
a. Nazareth was not a “destination” location but a “just passing through” town, similar to today’s “rest stops” or “truck stops”.
b. As a result, Nazareth was known for its loose living and immoral woman.
4. But in the midst of Nazareth’s perversity, God took notice of a godly young woman, probably 15 to 16 years old, named Mary.
5. What Gabriel told Mary marked the beginning of a new day in human history; a day that would forever change all days thereafter.
6. Gabriel declared that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her, and she would have God’s Son, who would be the Savior of the world.
7. When Mary heard Gabriel’s declaration, she made a declaration of her own, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” (38)
APPL – Mary’s response is an example for us all.
• Mary was not merely surrendering her body so that she could bear a child.
• In Mary’s case, her reputation was at stake.
• Mary could lose her fiancé, Joseph.
• In fact, Mary could lose her very life.
• Yet, when she weighed it all in the balance, she was willing to endure it all because God’s favor was upon her. She submitted to God’s will and to God’s word.
Transition – Next, Luke recorded what happened when Mary visited Elizabeth. From their interaction, we discover why we have reasons to rejoice.
I. Rejoice, We Have a Savior (39-45)
• Ever since the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, all of creation has needed and been waiting for a Savior.
• We were in a bad way; with three enemies waging war against our souls:
o A fallen and bankrupt world;
o Eternal judgment because of our sin.
Ephesians 2:1-2, 12, And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the
course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience… having no hope and without God in the world.
Transition – But God was on the move. He made a way for us.
A. God has come to us (39-44)
1. Immediately after Gabriel made his declaration and Mary, with great excitement, left Nazareth and hurried to the home of her relative, Elizabeth. (39-40)
2. The moment Mary opened the door and Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, God gave two signs to confirm that Mary was carrying God’s Son, the Savior of the world. (41, 44)
a. First, the baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy.
b. Second, the Holy Spirit filled Elizabeth and she prophesied about Mary and her Child.
APPL – Now all moms agree that babies move in the womb.
ILLUS – The doctor telling Heidi that it was too soon for her to feel Malina kicking.
• But Elizabeth didn’t experience the typical baby kick.
• Nor was Elizabeth experiencing Braxton-Hicks contractions.
• The baby, who would one day be called John the Baptist, was filled with the Holy Spirit the moment Mary greeted Elizabeth and then testified about Jesus Christ for the first time!
• This was a confirmation of what the angel Gabriel told Zacharias.
Luke 1:15, “… and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb.”
3. Then Elizabeth cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (42)
APPL – Notice that Elizabeth did not tell Mary that she was blessed “above” other women but “among” women.
• Only God is “above” all. Mary was God’s bondslave.
• That said, it is fitting to see the significant place Mary had in God’s plan and glorify God as Elizabeth did for using His humble bondslave to bring us our Savior.
4. Overwhelmed by God’s favor, with tears streaming down her face, Elizabeth asked a touching question which reveals that she understood the magnitude of what the Holy Spirit had shown her, “And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?” (43)
a. Here, Elizabeth called the Baby in Mary’s womb “my Lord”.
b. She recognized Jesus’ greatness, swore her allegiance, and submitted to His authority.
c. Elizabeth rejoiced because God had graced her with the very presence of her Savior, Jesus; God had come to her.
ILLUS – Have you ever been in the presence of “famous” person?
APPL – Rejoice. God has come to us. We have a Savior. His name is Jesus.
Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
B. Believe God’s Word and be blessed (45)
1. Elizabeth declared that Mary was blessed because she believed God’s word through Gabriel.
2. Mary believed God would fulfill what He had promised not only to her but to all of us.
APPL – We are blessed when we believe God’s Word.
• But you might be wondering, “What is faith?” What does it mean to believe God?”
• We can glean insight from Jesus when He spoke about the faith of little children.
Luke 18:16-17, Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.”
• A child-like faith does not strive; it just is.
• A child-like faith does not worry; it rests.
• A child-like faith simply takes God at His Word, trusting He knows best and that His timing is perfect.
Hebrews 11:1, 6, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen… And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
Transition – Only a child-like faith pleases God. That’s why it is the kind of faith He rewards.
II. Rejoice, God has Done Great Things for Us (46-56)
A. God has regarded our humble state (46-49)
1. Mary’s praise has been called Mary’s Magnificat, which is Latin for the first phrase of the psalm.
a. You know what is interesting about these verses?
b. Mary, who was a teenager, quoted the Old Testament 23 times; a beautiful confirmation of God’s selection of her.
2. From the core of her being, Mary magnified, praised, and exalted the Lord. (46-47)
a. “My soul exalts the Lord”; He is her Master.
b. “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior”
APPL – The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Mary was without sin, just like Jesus.
• But notice that Mary said, “God my Savior”.
• “My Savior” is a personal, intimate acknowledgment that she was a sinner, like us, who needed to trust the Lord for her eternal salvation.
• If Mary acknowledged her sin and need for a Savior, then we must not elevate her to the status of Savior.
3. Mary praised the Lord because, of all people, He reached out to this humble, obscure teenager who lived in a town known for its perversity. (48)
4. “The Mighty One has done great things for me.” (49)
a. God is opposed to the proud.
b. But God delights in honoring and pouring out His grace to the humble.
James 4:6, God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Transition – Again, we have cause to rejoice for what was true for Mary is true for us all.
B. God is merciful to all who fear Him (50-53)
1. God is merciful to “generation after generation toward those who fear Him.” (50)
2. Knowing God’s character, Mary declared that those who turn to God in humility will be blessed; they receive mercy.
Psalm 103:17-18, But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them.
3. Yet, those who oppose God will be opposed by God.
a. God scatters the proud with confusion. (51)
b. He brings down rulers from their thrones. (52)
4. Notice the contrast highlighted by Mary. (52-53)
a. God exalts the humble and fills the hungry with good things.
b. Yet, God leaves the rich empty-handed.
APPL – Worldly desires never satisfy our souls.
• The soul is empty without God; hungry and thirsty, longing to be satisfied.
• You see, there is a principle of diminishing returns; it takes more and more of the same thing to bring that rush… yet it never ends well.
Romans 6:21, Therefore what benefit were you then
deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death.
• We are driven by our desires and what we desire has everything to do with who we are and who we will become.
• Through Jesus Christ, we can master our desires and not be mastered by them.
• When we humble ourselves and hunger for God’s ways, we are blessed.
Matthew 5:3, 6, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven… Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
C. God keeps His promises (54-56)
1. Mary remembered God’s promise to Abraham and declared that the Child in her womb was the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. That’s why the Apostle Paul wrote…
Galatians 3:16, Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as
referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.
2. This is another reason to rejoice.
a. The God of Abraham is our God.
b. The God of Mary is our God.
c. God did not lie to them. He will not lie to us.
APPL – God can’t lie. He always keeps His promises.
Numbers 23:19, God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
• So, all who hope in God will never be disappointed.
Isaiah 49:23, Those who hope in Me will not be disappointed. (NIV)
APPL – Mary’s psalm speaks of all that God had done.
• What a wonderful response to the Lord; rejoicing in the great things He has done.
• And we can say the same thing.
• The Bible declares the joy of the Lord is our strength.
• Is God’s joy, your joy?
• It begins by coming to Him. Trusting in Him. Learning from Him. Giving Him control of your life.
• You see, people grumble because they are carrying burdens they can’t carry.
Matthew 11:28-29, Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Luke 1:39-56 NASB
39 Now [a]at this time Mary arose and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And [b]how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. 45 And blessed is she who [c]believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her [d]by the Lord.”
46 And Mary said:
“My soul [e]exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His [f]bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
“And His mercy is [g]upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
“He has done [h]mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the [i]thoughts of their heart.
“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
“He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
“He has given help to Israel His servant,
[j]In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his [k]descendants forever.”
56 And Mary stayed with her about three months, and then returned to her home.