Torchbearers for Christ
Thursday, July 18, 2024
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At this time of the year, multitudes will be reflecting on the miraculous birth of the Lord Jesus Christ and how the virgin Mary was visited by the angel Gabriel. Gabriel was sent from God, telling Mary “thou shalt conceive in thy womb and bring forth a son and shall call His name Jesus”. Mary, being a virgin, was troubled at these words but the angel explained what was to happen saying, “the power of the highest shall overshadow thee; therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Mary might well have questioned what she was being told. Being a virgin she would have anticipated the slur associated with bearing a child out of wedlock. Then, too, she was engaged to be married to Joseph who would find it hard to understand what she had been told. But to her eternal credit, she replied to Gabriel, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word”. What a challenging example these words provide for us all. Mary is saying, “I understand what you are telling; I will do as you ask”. Well might we all pray this prayer at this Christmas time.

The Christmas story is so familiar to us that we can easily lose the tremendous significance of it all. God is telling us in a special way at this time of the year that He loves us, that He wants to get close to us and to form a loving relationship with us. How is He to do this? The problem is that “your iniquities have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden His face from you” (Isaiah 59:2). God in His incredible kindness and love has devised a means whereby “His banished be not expelled from Him” (2 Samuel 14:14). This love was expressed at the cross of Calvary where Jesus bore your sins and mine in His own body. John tells us, “In this was manifested the love of God towards us, in that God sent His only begotten Son into the world that we might live through Him.   Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

Let us think again about the birth of Jesus and how the Holy Spirit brought about the birth of the Lord Jesus in the womb of Mary. There is another miracle that God wants to perform in the heart of every one who, like Mary, is willing to say “Be it unto me according to thy word” and who, like Mary, is willing to say “be it unto me according to thy word”. This is the miracle of the new birth, when the Lord Jesus comes to make a home in our hearts. This can be our own experience when the Lord Jesus indwells us and begins the work of changing us into His likeness.

When the Lord Jesus was with His disciples, they enjoyed His teaching, they saw His miracles, they loved Him and had left everything to follow Him. When He told them that He would be leaving them, be betrayed, scourged and crucified, they were understandably devastated. He was the one who had held the little group together and without Him there appeared no future for them or the work He came to do. But in spite of this, Jesus assured them that it would be better for them if He were to go away (John 16:7). What did He mean by this? He explained that, whereas they had enjoyed his physical presence, He would come and indwell them by His Spirit. This same indwelling of the Lord Jesus is available to us all. The Lord Jesus told His disciples “At that day you will know that you are in Me and I in you”. Paul enjoyed this wonderful privilege when he spoke of “Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27) and in Galatians 2:20 he said, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me”.

Mary had the inestimable privilege of giving birth to the Saviour. This is the message of Christmas, but we too may enjoy God’s priceless gift – “that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17) and in 2 Corinthians 9:15 we read “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift”
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  For many years, he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.