The Christmas Story – We’re Pregnant!

Text – Luke 1:18; Luke 1:34-38; Matthew1:24

 

  1. Introduction
    1. Have you seen that silly commercial for chicken fries? In it a teenaged chicken dates a rebel, a leather jacketed, motorcycle riding order of french fries, much to the consternation of her chicken parents. In the final episode of the commercial series the teenaged chicken sits down with her parents and her rebel boyfriend and announces, “We’re pregnant!” At which point we get a pitch to try their chicken fries.
    2. It’s usually a very exciting time when a couple announces to the family, “We’re pregnant!” from that time on preparations begin for the new arrival.
    3. The announcement of the impending birth of the Son of God was, in some respects even more exciting. For centuries, the prophets had foretold of the coming Messiah, but the time arrived for the Messiah to enter the world. Heaven sent Gabriel to three people to announce, “You’re pregnant!” In each case the pregnancy was miraculous. Let’s look at how the three responded to the angel’s message to them.
  2. Zechariah Luke 1:18
    1. Zechariah was a common priest. He was married to Elizabeth. Both of them were devout, but they were childless.
      1. The first thing to realize about this situation is that to be childless in that culture was assumed to be a curse from God. The idea of immortality was associated with progeny and posterity. So to be childless people assumed that somehow the couple had angered God, even though all evidence was to the contrary.
    2. The second thing to know is that Zechariah the priest lived and served in Jerusalem at the Temple only two weeks out of the year. The rest of the year he was the local pastor in his small village.
      1. There were a number of common priests. They were to live among the people throughout Israel and serve periodically in the Temple. Part of the problem was that sometimes there were too many priests, and at other times there were not enough. During the latter part of David’s reign, he organized the priests into divisions. Each division served in Jerusalem for one week twice a year. Zechariah’s division was Abijah.
      2. Furthermore, certain of the duties, such as the burning of incense on the golden altar, were limited. So each day, lots were drawn to perform those duties. Because of the large number of priests, burning incense was usually a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
    3. As he was performing the ritual and angel appeared to him. Told him that his prayers had been heard. He was going to have a son who would be great and would be the forerunner of the Messiah.
    4. What was Zechariah’s response? “How can I be sure?”
  3. Mary Luke 1:34-38
    1. Mary was a young woman living in the backwater town of Nazareth. Archeologists estimate the population at that time to be about 125 to 150. She is engaged to Joseph. Again, both are devout, but there is nothing outstanding about them.
    2. Six months after Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, he appeared to Mary.
      1. Scripture does not say where she was or what she was doing when Gabriel showed up. The strongest tradition is that she was drawing water from the village well which was in a subterranean grotto. Another is that the angel appeared to her in the night.
      2. At any rate, Gabriel appears and says to her, “Greetings, you are highly favored! The Lord is with you,” The angel goes on to tell her that she will be with child and give birth to a son who will sit on the throne of his father David.”
      3. Mary’s first response was, “How can this happen, I’m a virgin.”
      4. When he tells her that the Holy Spirit will come upon her and the Most High will overshadow her. What Gabriel was saying is your going to be a pregnant teenager out of wedlock.
      5. What was Mary’s response? “I am your servant. May it be as you have said.”
    3. Joseph Matthew 1:24
      1. Joseph is a common carpenter. He is probably employed at Sepphoris the Roman center of Government in the region that was having a lot of construction underway.
      2. When Gabriel told Mary she was going to have a baby, he also told her about Elizabeth who was six months along at that time. So, she went to visit Elizabeth.
      3. She comes home three months later, obviously pregnant. Joseph has a problem. He knows that the baby is not his. He could bring her before the village council and have her stoned, but being a righteous man he did not want to expose her to public disgrace, so he would quietly divorce her and let the people think what they would. Levitical Law allowed for this type of divorce.
      4. Joseph is contemplating this and fell asleep. An angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid of taking Mary as his wife. This is from God and he was to name the child Jesus.
      5. What was Joseph’s response? When he woke up he did what the angel commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
    4. Three people all received the “You’re pregnant!” announcement. Let’s compare their responses.
      1. Mary responds in the faith of a young girl, innocent of the problems this will create. She simply says, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
      2. Joseph is a little older and more aware of the ways of the world. When he is told that Mary has not betrayed him, but they are to be used of God, being a man of action, he takes Mary as his wife, lets the world think of him what they will and in faith moves forward.
      3. Zechariah is an older man.
        1. He and Elizabeth have experienced the repeated disappointments of hoping this time only to have their dreams crushed. He just was not ready for one more disappointment.
        2. Furthermore, being a priest, he was very aware of the church politics. He’d seen men with less character and less capability promoted ahead of him. So, just because and angel appears to him in the temple doesn’t guarantee a thing. So he responds honestly, not hiding his lack of faith. He simply asks, “How can I be sure?” In kindness the angel gave him a sign: he would be mute until the baby was born.
      4. Three responses:
        1. The impulsiveness of a teenager
        2. The action of a man of integrity
        3. The honesty of a man whose life had made faith difficult to have.
        4. Regardless of where you are today. The first chapter of the Christmas Story finds us in a place to strengthen our faith in the one who came.