Good morning and welcome to worship! Today we continue our Advent sermon series on the meaning of the Incarnation – “And the Word became flesh and made his home among us.” Jn 1:14
Last Sunday we learned the incarnation of Jesus proves that God keeps his promises. “All the promises of God find their “yes” in Jesus Christ.” 2 Cor 1:20 We learned the incarnation teaches us that all creation is sacred. Jesus drank the same water we drink, he breathed the same air we breathe, his body was made up of the same elements that make up our bodies.
We learned that in the incarnation we come face to face with the reality that sin has infected all creation. In the incarnation we see how much God loves us and refuses to give up on us. But most importantly, we learned the incredible cost God paid for our salvation.
This morning we move a step deeper. In the incarnation, God demonstrates the sanctity of a mother’s womb. But before we start let me say up front. This is not about politics. It’s not about how the Federal budget. It’s about Gods love for people – all people regardless age, circumstances, or the choices they have made. It’s about God’s love for you!
In the incarnation, God made it clear; there are no “accidental people”. No one has the right to say to another person, “You never should have been born!” If someone has said those words to you, they did not come from God. They came from the pit of hell and they are a lie.
The Incarnation of Jesus proves that no matter what the circumstances of your birth may have been, from the moment of your conception to the present; you are here because God wants you here. No human being has the right to interfere with your right to life.
Consider these words in John 1:12. “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12
You were in God’s mind from the foundation of the world. Even if it seems that no one else gives a hoot about you, God knows you name. He has a purpose for you that matters for eternity and no lie of hell can ever separate you from his love or purpose for your life.
David wrote Psalm 139 1000 years before Jesus was born. As I read his words, think of yourself as an infant in your mother’s womb. Researchers tell us that infants in the womb recognize the voices of their parents. They respond to music, words of love and praise, even caresses on their mother’s tummy.
“O LORD, You have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; (birth/death) you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
The womb is not the only place David’s words speak to us. They speak to us on our death bed. They speak to us when we have strayed far from the Lord and he comes to find us and bring us home again.
So “Why did God choose to send Jesus into the world through a physical conception and nine months development in the womb of a teenage girl?” What’s the lesson for us? The Lord showed me something this week that may surprise you. I know it surprised me.
Recently, I’ve been struggling with three “why” questions. Here’s the first one: “Why are well-educated, well-to-do young men and women, some of them having grown up in America, blowing themselves up in an attempt to kill people who have done nothing to hurt or threaten them?”
Here’s the second question: “Why are over 3,000 healthy American babies being painfully dismembered in their mother’s wombs every day when they’ve done nothing to threaten anyone?”
Here’s the third question: “Why did sane Americans spend over 3 billion dollars online this last Monday purchasing stuff they don’t really need, most of it having little lasting significance?”
There’s a fundamental connection between each of these groups. They are all looking for purpose and meaning. In a fundamental way they are looking for salvation. My goal isn’t to offend anyone. But I want us to think about why we do the things we do! Consider this…
The terrorist is trying to win salvation by sacrificing his life to save the world from the decadent west. The abortion provider is seeking salvation by saving women from an unplanned pregnancies and maybe what they see as religious or sexist oppression.
The materialist is trying to achieve salvation by accumulating the latest and greatest gadgets, or earning the approval of others through the possessing and giving of gifts.
From ISIS to the shop-a-holic, we all have an innate longing to be loved, to be needed, to be whole, to be filled - to have a purpose greater than meaninglessly serving ourselves. We want our lives to count for something. I believe that’s why ISIS finds it so easy to recruit young terrorists who are disillusioned with the meaningless materialism and selfishness they see around them. Augustine wrote, “Lord, our hearts are empty until they are filled with you.”
In the Garden of Eden Satan tempted Adam and Eve to try and fill the place in their heart that was reserved for God alone, with something else. He tempts us to do the same. Maybe it’s knowledge, or power, or pleasure, or lust, or a million other things that cannot satisfy.
We want to “do” something, buy something, join a crusade, even kill innocent people in the hope that we can fill this hole in our soul and become whole again. But only Jesus can fill the hole and make us whole. So what’s all this have to do with the Incarnation?
Let me read our Gospel for you again. Listen carefully. “In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Salvation is not something we do to fill the emptiness within us. It is something God has done. Every religion in the world is based on human beings working their way to heaven, climbing the ladder, getting to the top, saving ourselves. But the Bible tells us salvation isn’t found in what we do. It’s found in what God has done for us. He’s what we’re looking for to fill the emptiness within us.
In the incarnation of Jesus, God set aside his glory to become flesh and move into our home. Have you ever held a newborn in your arms? Why is that so miraculous? Why does it touch us so deeply? Over the centuries Satan has concentrated his attack on trying to tear apart and destroy this bond between a mother and her newborn.
He knows this is the bond that most closely represents the bond God wants to have with you and me. But instead of us being the baby, God chose to become the baby! Is there room in your heart for him? When we let him in an amazing miracle takes place.
We discover he fits perfectly in that hole in our heart that we’ve been trying to fill with all this other meaningless stuff. And when he fills the hole, we become whole.
Pastor Saeed Abindini was being trained as a suicide bomber. He was ready to blow himself up for a cause greater than himself. But something about it wasn’t filling the hole in his heart. The deeper he got, the emptier it all seemed. Then he met Jesus and Jesus filled that hole. And Saeed become whole. His heart became a holy place.
More than a few former abortion providers share similar testimonies about how Jesus came and filled the emptiness in their hearts. How about you? No matter what you try to fill your soul with, your heart will remain empty, until Jesus moves in. Mary invited him into her womb. That made her womb a sacred place. But she also invited him into her heart and that made her heart a holy place. He can do the same thing in your heart this morning! Have you invited him in? Has he become incarnate within you? Will you pray with me!