In this short series, Skip Heitzig examines the story of Christmas, considering the importance of Jesus' earthly parents--Joseph and Mary.
Table of Contents
||The Magnificent Mother of Messiah
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is central to the story of Christmas. Unfortunately, people are greatly divided about her importance and her role. Some magnify her too much, making her more important than even Jesus. Others ignore her and fail to give her the esteem she deserves. Today, we briefly consider Mary and five notable attributes that formed her personality.
Recap Notes: December 18, 2016
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "The Magnificent Mother of Messiah"
Text: Luke 1
Mary, the mother of Jesus, is central to the story of Christmas. Unfortunately, people are greatly divided about her importance and her role. Some magnify her too much, making her more important than even Jesus. Others ignore her and fail to give her the esteem she deserves. In this teaching, Pastor Skip considered Mary and five notable attributes that formed her personality.
- She Was Real (vv. 26-37)
- She Was Humble (v. 38)
- She Was Worshipful (vv. 46-19)
- She Was Scriptural (vv. 46-55)
- She Was Needful (v. 46)
She Was Real
- Jesus and Mary had a strong bond---one that may not have included Joseph (most scholars think he died early on in Jesus' life). Mary was the only person who was at both Jesus' birth and death.
- Many people get Mary wrong, elevating her to co-redemptrix (co-redeemer) with Christ, among other nonbiblical teachings.
- Though some people question Mary's historical precedence, Luke clearly conveyed Mary's life's coordinates; she was a real, historical person.
- In the text, we learn that an angel came to Mary stating a place (Nazareth), a person (Mary, a Jew), and a purpose (bringing forth a Son, Jesus).
- The Hebrew name for Mary---Miriam---means wished-for child or bitter. Mary's genealogy is found in Luke 3. She was from the tribe of Judah and was between twelve and fourteen years old when she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
- Probe: Discuss what you were like when you were twelve to fourteen years old. Would you have been able to handle something as mind-boggling as a miracle from God? What does Mary's age tell you about her spiritual maturity?
She Was Humble
- Mary's last words to the angel were words of submission (see v. 38).
- Though Mary was special, she was also spiritual, exuding humility.
- Maidservant means slave maid. In antiquity, servants were free people and were compensated; slaves had no rights or legal privileges and had to obey their master.
- In effect, Mary was saying that the Lord came to a nobody in a no-place town; her privilege came in the person she bore.
- Probe: Why is humility a hallmark of honor for the Christian? Discuss the role of humility in the Christian's life (see Romans 12:16; Ephesians 4:2; Philippians 2:3; James 4:10).
She Was Worshipful
- Mary's prayer is known as the Magnificat in Latin.
- The words she used (magnifies, rejoiced, holy, etc.) are words of praise and proclamation.
- When life bumps up against you, what comes out? In Mary's case, it was praise and worship.
- If prayer is a window to the heart, Mary's heart was filled with hues of worship and wonder.
- Probe: Worship is an expression of reverence and adoration. Discuss how we are to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (see John 4:24), showing reverence (deep respect) and giving adoration (love and honor).
She Was Scriptural
- Over fifteen allusions connect Mary's prayer to the Scriptures, especially to parts of Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2.
- This tells us that Mary had access to Scripture and memorized it.
- Notice some of the allusions:
- "Magnifies" (v. 46): Psalm 34:2-3
- "Savior" (v. 47): Isaiah 45:21
- "Blessed" (v. 48): Genesis 30
- "Done great things" (v. 49): Psalm 126:3
- "Holy is His name" (v. 49): 1 Samuel 2:2; Psalm 111:9
- In addition to Scripture, she knew theology: "To Abraham and to his seed forever" (v. 55).
- Probe: Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart [the] mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). What comes out of your mouth when you're bumped? Is it Scripture or smut? One way to internalize Scripture is to memorize it. Share a verse you've memorized.
She Was Needful
- Mary was not immaculate and does not dispense grace. Rather, she was a sinner in need of a Savior---and she knew it.
- The greatest thing God did for Mary was save her; she is blessed among women as the receiver of the Savior.
- If you want to honor Mary, worship the Savior she bore.
- Mary included all Christians in her prayer with the phrase "from generation to generation" (v. 50). The same mercy God showed Mary is available to everyone.
- Probe: Discuss the key words Savior (someone who saves; see v. 47) and mercy (compassion and forgiveness; see v. 50). How is God's mercy connected to His salvation (see 1 John 4:19)?
Connect Up: Mary opened her prayer with the phrase "My soul magnifies the Lord" (v. 46). The word for magnify
. It means to make or declare someone or something as great; to enlarge or increase
. How do we enlarge our view of God through worship?
Connect In: How is Mary a model for us as believers? (Hint: think of her praise, her knowledge of theology and Scripture, etc.)
Connect Out: Pastor Skip reminded us that there are many false views of Mary. How can you reach out to individuals who have nonbiblical ideas about Mary and witness to them in truth and love?
- She Was Real (vv. 26-37)
- She Was Humble (v. 38)
- She Was Worshipful (vv. 46-49)
- She Was Scriptural (vv. 46-55)
- She Was Needful (v. 47)
Throughout Scripture, we see that the Lord often used dreams to communicate His truth to people. In this special Christmas teaching, Pastor Skip looked at the forgotten man of Christmas—Joseph, Mary's husband and Jesus' stepfather. As we study Matthew 1:18-25, we learn that Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of Joseph's dream.
Recap Notes: December 24, 2016
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: "Christmas Dream"
Text: Matthew 1:18-25
Everyone dreams every night. We may not remember the dreams, but we have them. Some last just a few seconds; others can last up to thirty minutes. Psychologists tell us that dreams are our way to subconsciously deal with emotions and experiences.1 Throughout Scripture, the Lord used dreams to communicate His truth to people like Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, and Daniel. In this special Christmas teaching, Pastor Skip looked at Joseph, Mary's husband and Jesus' stepfather. The first Christmas was not what Joseph—or Mary, for that matter—expected. Mary was unwed and expecting a child; Joseph was about to privately divorce her before the Lord intervened with a dream that ushered in the promised Messiah. Jesus was the ultimate fulfillment of Joseph's dream. Pastor Skip's path through the text is as follows:
- Confusion (vv. 18-19)
- Clarity (vv. 20-23)
- Compliance (vv. 24-25)
- Joseph is the forgotten man of Christmas. We know him best because of his marriage to Mary.
- Jewish marriages had two stages: betrothal (kiddushin, lasting one year) and a wedding ceremony (chuppah). The parents arranged marriages without consulting the bride or groom, drawing up a contract and sealing it with a dowry.
- There was to be no physical intimacy between engaged couples.
- We don't know how Joseph got the news about Mary's pregnancy, but when he did, confusion arose. He had three options:
- He could expose her publically as being unfaithful (which in Old Testament times could lead to stoning).
- He could file for a private divorce (a handwritten certificate in the presence of two witnesses).
- He could marry her.
- Because he was a man of integrity and cared about Mary and her reputation, Joseph chose option two: a private divorce.
- But the Lord spoke to Joseph through an angel in a dream—a divine sleep that led to clarity.
- Probe: Take a moment to share a dream—good or bad—that you've experienced. Were you able to learn anything from the dream? Why do you think the Lord used dreams throughout the Bible?
- In Joseph's dream, the angel of the Lord accomplished five things through a personal pep-talk:
- Recollection: He called Joseph "son of David" (v. 20), reminding him that he was part of a royal lineage, the lineage from which a Savior would come who would one day rule the entire world.
- Exhortation: He told Joseph to stop being afraid. Joseph afraid of was probably afraid of the consequences of divorcing Mary and what people would think if he married her.
- Explanation: He told Joseph "that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit" (v. 20)
- Instruction: He told Joseph that he would name the baby, and the baby would one day save the world.
- Clarification: He reminded Joseph that the prophets predicted all this long ago. God essentially told Joseph, "This is My plan."
- Probe: Clarity means the quality of being clear, coherent,and intelligible. Share a time from your life when God brought clarity to something—maybe a problem or a person. How did He accomplish this?
- After the dream, Joseph awoke and immediately obeyed—he married Mary.
- Joseph was honored to be part of God's plan for His people.
- But with the dream over, the reality began: the unwarranted comments about their relationship, the trip to Bethlehem for a census, living as fugitives in Egypt for two years, and then moving back to Nazareth.
- The hardest part was the best part: the baby Jesus became the Man who suffered and died on the cross to save mankind.
- With obedience came the ability to overcome; Joseph recognized that God—through Jesus—would crush Satan's head (see Genesis 3), bringing redemption and reconciliation to all who receive Him.
Connect Up: Christmas is about one thing: the Father sent His Son, Jesus, to die so we might live. There was life in Mary's womb that led to the tomb and death, but in the tomb was the Son of God, whose death led to life. Why do you think God connects both death and life in our relationship to Him (see Matthew 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 14:27)? How is this truth reflected in baptism?
- Probe: Why is compliance (submission or obedience) important in our relationship with God? Discuss a time when you weren't compliant. What happened? Now discuss a time when you were compliant with God's Word. How did He honor your obedience?
Connect In: Sometimes our relationships with others in the body of Christ can be confusing. How are we in the church to work through problems and predicaments with one another to bring clarity and compliance? Read Matthew 18 and Acts 6:1-7. As both references show, God's people must be compliant, spiritual people, seeking His clarity and submitting to His Word.
Connect Out: There's lots of confusion in the world regarding marriage (non-married people living together, etc.). What can you learn from Joseph and Mary's commitment to one another through marriage? How can you lovingly share with others what a biblical marriage looks like, particularly to unbelievers or people struggling with their faith?
Breus, Michael J., "Why Do We Dream?," February 13, 2015, https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sleep-newzzz/201502/why-do-we-dream, accessed 12/24/2016.
Christmas is not really Christmas without our Lord Jesus Christ—God changed everything with the birth of His Son. In this Christmas Day message, we learn that Jesus' humble birth showed His incompatibility with the world and accessibility to those who come before Him just as they are.