Humility & the Birth of Christ (Tidings of Great Joy series #2)
Jason White



Pride is often quoted as being the root of all sin and evil, and there is probably a lot of truth to that. Pride is also often the ultimate blind spot. Other people come to mind when we think of pride, but rarely do we see it in our own lives. As we continue our Christmas message series this Sunday, we will be looking at Luke 1:26-56, and we will see a lot about this issue of pride/humility in what was taking place 2,000 years ago. What we see though, will say a lot to us today.






*This transcript was auto-generated by a transcription service and may differ from the originally spoken content*

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The poet TS Lewis scuze. Me, Elliot once said, most of the trouble in this world is caused by people wanting to be important. You believe that to be true? Our office 100% True. But I think there's probably some truth to that a lot of the trouble in this world is probably caused by people, by us wanting to be important in all the efforts that we make, to try to convince ourselves that we are important and to convince other people and the world that we are important to. And we go to great lengths really to be noticed to be recognized to stand out above and beyond others in our own minds. And in the minds of others, it can cause us a lot of times to, to use other people instead of bless other people and serve and give to other people standing out and wanting to be important can cause us to use and to take from people to give us what we feel like we need, and we're ultimately missing in our lives. And so a lot of times we judge other people by their performances in this world, or by their performance in the Christian life. And we play this game in our heads where we we justify ourselves by pointing out the things that they're not doing in their Christian walks or in their jobs or with their families that you and I are doing. Now. Now, we skip the people who are doing a better job at those things than us. But we'll find the other ones who are making way more of a mess of their own lives, point to them. And then we elevate ourselves above them. And we justify our self worth and our importance. Sometimes we do this in our heads. Unfortunately, sometimes we do it out loud as well in front of others. That of course is called gossip whenever you and I point out and make sure that we highlight in front of others how much this person or those people are making a mess of their own lives, then what we feel and think in that moment is we're going to, we're going to use that to convince you and your mind that I am more important than they are. It's really what gossip is we're bringing those things up to push them down, to do what elevate us in the other people's minds to bring us the importance that we crave and we die or death or we desperately desire in our own lives. It's a pride causes us to think a lot of times ultimately about ourselves and this wanting to be important. It causes us to focus on that focus on how we know everything and no one else knows as much as we do we tune others out. Sometimes it causes us to feel like we're too good to perform other tasks, somebody else can do those things that's beneath us. Other times that it can keep us from asking others for help from it keeps us from talking about ourselves instead of asking others about how they're doing. And ultimately, it consistently makes us critical of other people in the way they're doing things. And pride is often the ultimate blind spot in our own lives. You guys have all been driving somewhere and forgotten to check your blind spot every now and then and made a mistake that someone was sitting right there because it's just hard to see we don't always turn and look to see it's, it's it's a it's called a blind spot. Right. And a lot of times people talk about how how pride in this idea of of lifting ourselves up above others and justifying ourselves really is the ultimate blind spot. A lot of us if we hear someone like me beginning to talk about, maybe humility today and pride in other people's lives than or that's where our minds go, Oh my gosh, I wish so and so was here to hear this message today. Right? Because they need to hear this message about pride and how they lift themselves up. Because, again, it's often the ultimate blind spot in our own lives, we often just don't see that we are doing the very same things in this game that we play in our heads, or that we verbalize sometimes with our mouths. The biggest thing I think when it comes to this is that this this pride and this elevation of self can keep us from realizing our need for God can keep us from realizing our need for him in the first place and ever coming to know him and spending eternity with Him. It can keep us if we do know him from experiencing him in our lives because even though we've declared him to be our Lord and Savior to get us to heaven, we still declare ourselves to be the Lord over our own life. lifting ourselves our importance trying to make us what it is that we're worth and other people to see those things. And so I think when we look at that, in this issue of lifting ourselves up to be important, this issue of pride, life is way too short for us to miss out on the God of the universe, and all that he has to offer us in a relationship with Him. And so I asked you to turn to Luke chapter one, verse 26. As we continue to see what Luke tells us about the truth of the Christmas story, we're going to see a lot about this issue of pride and ultimately, its antidote. Humility, come up over and over and over again. Look at the way Luke starts in verse 26. He says in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy now, if you weren't here last week, you may be asking the question, Who is Elizabeth, because we're jumping into the first chapter of a story, a narrative that he's writing here. And what you need to know is that an angel we saw last week, in the first 25 verses of chapter one appeared to a priest named Zachariah. And he told him that he and his barren wife, Elizabeth, who Luke mentions here, was going to have a child. They were old and age, they've been praying for a child forever. They've been dealing with infertility issues, it hadn't happened for them, they never thought it was going to happen. God shows up in a miraculous supernatural way and says it's going to happen. And by the way, it's not just going to be any son or any child that's going to be born to you. It's going to be who you and I know is John the Baptist, this guy is going to prepare the way for Jesus, the Son of God to enter into this world and for his ministry that's going to come and so Luke here as we pick up in the middle of the first chapter, is referencing the fact that she is now six months along, like God showed up made a promise that she would have a child. And evidently, God followed through with his promise. Right? We're six months into this now. And now look, what Luke says happened. In the six months of Elizabeth's pregnancy God sent the angel Gabriel, the same one that appeared to Elizabeth or to Zachariah to Nazareth, a town of Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. And the virgin's name Luke says was Mary. So again, it's the same angel that appeared to Zack Araya to bring the news that he and Elizabeth are going to have a child. And now he appears to marry and says that she is going to bear a child. And we'll see that, of course, in just a moment. What Luke's quick to point out here, though, is that twice, he's already mentioned that she is a virgin, right that she is pledged to be married, we're told that she's pledged to be married. And, of course, Luke says, but make no mistake about it. She hasn't been with her husband yet. At this point in time, after having been pledged to them, they were still been living separately, she would not have been with him in that particular way. And so Luke highlights that it seems to be important to him. And there's a reason for that. And we'll see that in just a moment. But the other thing I just want to point out really quickly here before we move on, because I think this is worth noting is is that we're told about where the angel Gabriel went to where Mary was from, which was Nazareth, this town in Galilee, here's what you need to know about Galilee. Galilee was a region that was looked down upon that was frowned upon the Jews in Galilee were thought of as inferior because of their contact with Gentiles, the people of Nazareth, were even despised there was kind of this, this deep repugnance towards them. And so with a very mention of the angel Gabriel, showing up to the town of Nazareth, in this region of Galilee would be going like why in the world, would an angel of prominence, anyone of importance go to that place right there, and much less to see a teenage girl, right? Because again, when we think about these particular kinds of things, but again, we're dealing with is the issue of pride. There were a lot of people who lifted themselves up thought of themselves as way more superior than the people of this particular region. And so even in the opening lines of this section, we're starting to see a little bit about pride come out, in what is going to how it's going to impact what is being said. Here, verse 28, Luke continues, he says the angel went to her and said, Greetings, you who are highly favored, the Lord is with you. Mary was greatly troubled. Luke tells us at his words and wondered what kind of a greeting this might be. The word troubled there in Greek. It's translated troubled in your English Bibles needs to be deeply prepared. In other words, he's saying that that Mary was baffled. She was confused at this point, you know, like, Mr. Angel, you're calling me highly favored. But listen, Mister an angel. I'm from Nazareth, right? I'm from Galilee, I don't come from a very prominent region plus, did you mistake me for someone else, right? I'm just a teenage girl, girl, no doubt, right? Because, again, remember, in this particular curve, the culture, women were not seen as important, right? That they were not elevated to the status of men were they were often seen as property or just the possession of their husbands or their fathers. And so she was no doubt confused about him showing up and saying you, this teenage girl from Nazareth know nothing. Nazareth is highly favored. And she's like, I think you might have me confused with someone else. But he didn't have her confused with someone else. She was important to God, because it was God in His grace, who gave her that favor. In other words, she didn't do anything, the angel didn't show up because of how special Mary was because of how religious she was because of the background that she had, because of her gender, or anything that she had accomplished in elevating herself to a status of importance in the world. It was simply God by His grace, saying, I choose you, and you are highly favored. You and I should take note of that, because that says a lot to you. And I, when you and I are expending a tremendous amount of energy, trying to elevate ourselves to a status of where we can think of ourselves as being important and convince everybody else in the world that we are important. And yet we see it's God who just gives that kind of stuff away. It's a gift to you. It's not something you achieve, it's something you receive in him. This was a humble teenage girl from a humble region. And yet the angel was telling her that she was highly favored. So no doubt she was perplexed. Verse 30. But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, For you have found favor with God, You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you were to call him Jesus, He will be great and will 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, there is so much in these verses that we could dive into when I told you earlier that we were going verse by verse through this section and highlighting Luke's perspective of the Christmas story. I mean, we really could have started this back in August, to really go through all of the stuff that he says here and dive deeply into all that we see, of course, we don't really have time for that, again, we see here that she's found favor with God, not because of anything that she's done, but because of God's grace in it is for something really, really important. I mean, God has chosen her out of his grace to use her to give birth to the Son of God, and to fulfill as we just saw here, the Davidic Covenant of the Old Testament to build a kingdom that will last forever. This is God finally, in their minds showing up and say, I haven't forgotten about my people, I haven't forgotten about the promise that I made, I haven't forgotten about the covenant that I made with you. And I am choosing choosing this lowly girl from Nazareth to be my chosen instrument to send the one who would accomplish this task and fulfill this promise here. So this was an extremely highly favored position that Mary was being chosen for here. But while this is certainly great, and all and I'm sure she received it in some ways, as a wow, I get to be a part of that. It first it sparks a question, right? You're telling me that I'm going to have a child verse 34. But how will this be Mary asked since I am a virgin again, Mary's going I've taken biology and I've listened to my biology teacher explain how this kind of thing works. And I've never participated in that act, which my biology teacher was telling me about to produce one of those things so how in the world am I going to have a baby? Angel tells her 35 The angel answer 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. In other words, the angel says this will be a supernatural conception. Supernatural the Holy Spirit Spirit is going to show up. And because it's an act of the Holy Spirit, the one who is going to be born is going to be unlike any other person that was ever born into this world. That's why he could be called the Holy One, because he would be the first one to be born into this world with no sin, He will not carry on the sin of Adam that has been handed down over and over and over again to every other person born after him, this one will be holy, because he will be fully God, and He will be fully man. But notice, even in this statement, though, that the angel makes the Holy One to be born, that this was an act of humility, even in and of itself. It's what Andrew was talking about earlier than act of humility, that the eternal Son of God, don't miss that. The eternal Son of God, squeezed himself into humanity, squeezed himself into humanity and was born in a, a vulnerable position where he would have to be cared for by others. The eternal Son of God, who created everything in this world, holds all things together in his hands, humbled himself to be born into this world, and into a vulnerable position where he of all people had to actually be cared for. Do you see the humility, even in the Son of God, that we're talking about here, and it's not for him, he didn't humble himself because of what he was going to get out of it. He humbled Himself in that way for you and for i, because you and I have been trying to make ourselves important and convince others that we are important, because we have this sin nature, because there's this hole inside of us, that tells us something is wrong, that tells us we're missing something on the inside, in all of the effort that we're expending, is all about trying to fill that hole. Because if we can elevate ourselves to an important status and convince other people that this then will hopefully feel like that's been filled up. And I won't have that feeling that anything is missing anymore. So out of an act of humility, because you and I couldn't do anything to actually fulfill that hold that we are missing on the inside the God of the universe humbled himself so that you and I could have that whole field with himself, and no longer have to go on that search anymore. It's a humbling thing for the eternal Son of God to squeeze himself into humanity and be born as a baby, and he did so for you. And he did so for me. Out of a love that is beyond comprehension. For 36, continues to talk to Mary, this is the angel still speaking to Mary, even Elizabeth, he says your relative is going to have a child in her old age. And she who was said to be unable to conceive is now in her six month, for no word the angel says from God will ever fail. He's recognizing that Mary might probably at some point, start to think you know what, this sounds crazy? Like, did an angel really just show up to me and tell me that I was gonna get pregnant through the Holy Spirit and have a kid who was going to be the Son of God, and adults don't have a category for that? I'm not sure that's really going to happen. And so he goes ahead and gives her a sign gives her confirmation that this will happen. And he points her to Elizabeth. He says, Listen, your old cousin, your suit, how, by the way, how would you like to be Elizabeth sitting up in heaven right now? And going every single time somebody mentions my name? They're talking about how old I am, right? It was highlighted last week, and we're talking about it today. Right? And so in her old age, she's saying she had been praying for a child never been able to have it. And God gave her a child. And if God can do that, he's trying to say to Mary, then he can do this in you. You can take it to the bank, it will happen because you've seen what it is that I'm doing here. So he answers her question. He gives her confirmation and look at her response to the angel. In verse 38. She says I am the Lord's servant, Mary answered May your word to me be fulfilled. And then the angel left her. The Greek word translated servant, there is dulay, which means bond servant. in everyday speech, this word describes one of humble station who addresses a superior in recognition of their own position. There's so much humility here. Mary is saying, Okay, your God, I'm not. I don't understand all of this. It's even going to cost me God. But even though it's going to cost me because you say so. And because of what it is that you're doing, I'm all in, use me. Make no mistake about this, this would cost Mary greatly. While it was certainly a huge privilege, on one hand to be, hey, you're my chosen instrument, to bear the Son of God, the eternal Son of God to be born into this world here to be a part of saving and rescuing the entire world. It was going to cost her there will be ridiculed, they will be harassment, there will be suffering that would come her way. She's pledged to be married. Joseph isn't going to understand this. Oh, you got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Okay, no big deal. Let's just move on then. Right. That's not going to be his response. He's not going to get it in his mind. He's gonna go you cheated on me. I know, this is what happened, quit lying to me. There's going to be ridicule, there's going to be blame her friends, her family, other people are not going to under stand this. She's going to get ridiculed. She's going to get harassed, they are going to gossip, they are going to judge and she says, It's okay. I'm willing to sacrifice all of that and put up with that because I trust you, God, I am your bond servant. I am your instrument. So use me. The humility, making herself available. I'm your chosen instrument, whatever situations or circumstances come my way as a result of that. So be it because you're God. And I'm not. There is a position of humility, that when we step into that, releases, what it is that God is doing and allows us to experience those things which we'll see and talk about as we go on. Verse 39, says at that time, Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill of the hill country of Judea, where she entered into Zacharias home and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the whole the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and a loud voice, she exclaimed the blessing are you among women, and blessed is the Child you will bear. But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me, as soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy bless it is She who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her again, there's so much that we can talk about in these verses. But notice the humility on Elizabeth's part here, Elizabeth was older. In our day and age, it's generally expected that you respect those who are older, it was even a way bigger deal at this particular time. And in this culture, Elizabeth being older commanded the respect of a teenage girl who was younger, Elizabeth was a descendant of Aaron that commanded respect in this culture, Elizabeth was married to a priest that also deserved your respect in this culture. And finally, Elizabeth was from a more respected area than Nazareth, where Mary is from so if anyone should have been showing respect to someone, it should have been married to Elizabeth and yet it was Elizabeth who humbles herself before a teenage girl who was probably no more than 12 to 15 years old from Nazareth and calls her blessed. The humility that we see here for the teenage girl where she lowers herself, and highlights the work that God is going to do in and through her. Over above herself, think about how excited Elizabeth had to be to finally be pregnant. You've been praying for a child your entire life, you've been infertile, it hadn't happened. You've given up all hope. It's never going to happen. It finally happens. You run into one of your relatives. What do you want to talk about? Look at me, look how pregnant I am finally did it and the whole time she's talking about her and what God is doing in her life, which is probably a reflection of what John was being born into the world. To do any way to write to be a great pointer to someone else who has over and above the humility that we see and notice the humility to an unborn baby, how does she address the baby in Mary's womb, my lord. We're told the Holy Spirit has to reveal this to her. But she's recognizing even this baby in this moment, his superior pneus to her as an adult. As the husband of a priest, as a descendant of Aaron, even this unborn baby is superior to me. And then finally, did you hear how much joy is in this when I was reading it? Did you sense the joy in this through the humility that she lowers herself before both Jesus in the womb and lowers herself before Mary, there's all this joy, she's rejoicing in it. We talked last week about how the angel will appear to the shepherds and say that I bring great tidings that will cause great joy. And we talked about how joy can be found through God's sovereignty last week that we saw, even though the confusing times when it seems like God is absent, and all of that stuff. But today, what I want you to notice is that there's joy through humility, that humility is actually the thing that unlocks or unleashes the joy that Jesus gives to each one of us. We see it here in the response that through humility, Elizabeth is rejoicing. John the Baptist in the womb is rejoicing. There's just so much joy through all the humility here. And I think that says a lot to even you and I today. Look at this last section, here's beginning of verse 46. It says, And Mary said, My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed for the Mighty One has done great things. For me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation, he has performed mighty deeds with his arms, he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble, he has filled the hungry with his with good things, but has said the rich away empty, He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as He promised our ancestors again, do you see the joy through the humility of Mary in this response, I mean, she just goes on behind and on, in rejoicing in who God is, and what it is that he is doing. Right now, in this moment, the whole first half of it is about rejoicing and who God is and what he's done in her, into her and through her whole second half about what God is doing overall, throughout this world through what he's doing to Mary and through her and what how it will affect the world beyond even sending Jesus to this earth. But notice, again, because again, there's so many things that we can highlight in this passage. But notice again, that these things are mentioned that that God is going to break down the prideful, in lifting up the humble, verse 51, he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts, verse 52, He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. Again, this is what what God is up to. He's, he's he's wanting, he wants to give forgiveness. He wants to give freedom, he wants to give you importance, he wants to give you significance, he wants to give you joy, and he again, he wants to gift you all of these things even says in verse 50, His mercy extends mercy, I want to give this to you, I don't want to give you what you deserve. I want to give this to those who fear Him to fear God means to acknowledge his position, to acknowledge his authority over you as the one who sits in a position over authority. And so the position of humility is what we're saying kind of breaks down this wall, if you will, this, this pride this, this lifting up of ourselves, this looking to what we're achieving, and doing and trying to convince others of through gossiping, all the stuff that we mentioned before, and God's saying, I just want to give it to you. I just want to give it to you. I just want to give it to you, but he keeps running into a wall. The wall is pride. It just keeps bouncing off because it's there and we don't see the ultimate blind spot. But he keeps saying I give it to you and if you'll just let go over the pride. If you'll see me for who I really am even if you don't understand everything that I'm up to in this. It fueled just under statement that I sent my one and only Son, the eternal Son of God to lead the glory and riches of heaven, to humble his own self, for you out of My Love for you feel, just recognize that it will allow you to lower your pride in humble yourself before Him and just begin to receive all of these things that he wants to give you. And that he wants you to experience if he's already given it to you. So as we kind of look at this from a close, and what God's saying to us through this, again, there's so much that we see here that we could talk about the announcement of Jesus being born into this world, the virgin birth, the fulfillment of the Davidic, covenant, the the God working his plan, all throughout history and showing up and fulfilling it here. But when you read through this, you cannot miss all of the humility that is here, the humility of God himself to enter into this world that humility, and Mary's response to the angel, may it be to me God, even if it's going to cost me the humility of Elizabeth and lowering herself before a teenage girl, that humility, and we see even in Mary song and the way that she talks about God and, and and deals with pride and humility, and is willing to give so much to show mercy through that. And so I don't want you to miss this here, I don't want you to miss the fact that if pride is the ultimate blind spot, and it is the thing that is potentially keeping you from experiencing Jesus and the forgiveness that He offers you that he was born into this world to purchase for you, would you just offer up a simple prayer today and say, God, would you reveal my pride to me? Would you allow me to see it and what's standing in the way of me receiving you, and ultimately, most of the time, what we will all see is that we're ultimately trying to be your own god, we don't understand who God is, and what it is that he's done, and some of the sufferings and the things and how he could be the only way. And we go, You know what, if I was God, I would do it differently. And so we just play this game of putting ourselves in his position thinking that you and I could be doing it differently. When make a better God, we think we're a better God of our own lives than he is and would be ultimately of the entire world. But we certainly can't see it all from his perspective, and know all the ins and outs of what it is that he's up to, and why he allows things to happen. And so when we are revealed those things to us, then we're able to see, okay, maybe I don't get to see everything from the chair that you sit him. And if that's the case, is it possible that I don't have to understand everything about you. But I can know through even this simple story of the Christmas story, I can see how the fact that you humbled yourself as God to come here. And that says a lot about your love for me. And that maybe that was because I needed something that I'm missing in my life and don't see. And so if that's you, and you've never said yes to Jesus, my prayer for you is that you would humble yourself and receive him today. But my prayers for those of us who have also said yes to Jesus today, because even though we've received his joy, we've received His forgiveness, we've received his significance and importance and all of those things value and worth into our lives. A lot of times we still expend so much energy, trying to make ourselves into someone in something that God has already gifted to us. And so what I'm trying to say is, is that, in humbling ourselves is what allows kind of the the unlocking, if you will, of all the things that we've received in Christ, to now be experienced, like you could have received all of these things. But if we continue to walk in pride in our fleshly ways, which is all about self importance, and us in our own, do you realize that you can miss all of the things that you've been given, and you freely received? Because, listen, you're really just a branch and he's the vine, what a branches do. They just continue to receive. So if you're a branch and you have everything that you need, then your job in abiding is just to sit there and keep receiving all the stuff that you have in him. That's the position of humility. But if you look at it, you and I are going you know what people are looking at the fruit on the end of my bridge, and they're not looking at the bridge and making a big deal about the bridge, which is me. I need to make sure they understand how important I am and we elevate ourselves and our status important to all the things that we're doing here. Well, what are we really doing here? Nothing. We're just connected to the vine, the life giving stuff through me as the instrument is the one who's producing all of that stuff anyway. And we're going to begin to experience the joy in our lives not because I finally got where I've been trying to get through my achievement and worth I finally got so and so to believe that I was important through the gossiping, convincing of them of others. When I finally get there, I'll have the joy, it's going, No, you have it. And if you'll just walk from a position of humility, you'll even begin to experience all the joy that I brought you because you'll begin to see all that you ultimately have in me as a branch and a vessel. And that says a lot about the way you and I live our daily lives and as we think about the Christmas story, today