Gene Cunningham - December 18, 2022
A Hero, a Maiden, and a Dragon
“In every great story (or in every great romance,) there are three things: a hero, a maiden, and a dragon.” G.K. Chesterton. The Maiden In Luke 1:26-29, Mary has had an appearance of an angel that calls himself Gabriel and tells her that she is highly favored and so on and so forth. For more on this scene watch the video “Blessed are you among women.” So, Mary is standing there dumbfounded, terrified, and in her mind she's thinking about scripture. She is beginning to add up the facts of scripture. What is interesting is that later in the chapter, “The Song of Mary” contains 15 references to Old Testament scriptures. Off the top of her head, she sings a song composed of 15 Old Testament texts. Anybody want to try that? This woman was a scholar of scripture, which tells me since she likely was not pushed to learn the law, she was searching on her own. She loved the word of God. So now we have the announcement of the Hero’s birth in Luke 1:30-33. The Angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary.” This command is given us more than all others in Scripture. Why is that? Because we're creatures of fear. You know why we're creatures of fear. I don't know if you're fearful about what's going on around the world, but there are, you know, sometimes fearful things that we begin to see. Faith conquers fear. God intends faith to overcome. And you say, why are we creatures of fear? Because we were born into a sinful race. You know, we're told in Hebrews 2:14-15 that Satan is the one who holds the power of fear over humans. Christ came to deliver us from fear. And so Gabriel repeats the message that God so often gives us. Gabriel next says, “You have found favor with God.” The first time that occurs is about Noah in Genesis 6:8. “The whole world was corrupt, and the Lord looked and saw that the world had corrupted its way before Him, but Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord.” Would you like to find favor with God? You know how you find favor? You look for it in the right place. It's right here in Scripture. As we open His word, we find that Jesus Christ is manifest before us. John 1:14 says, “The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Grace and Truth. We have to be full of Truth if we want to get the Grace. She found favor (Grace) in the sight of God. The Hero Gabriel then says, “Behold, you conceive in your womb, and bring forth a son, and call his name Jesus.” It might interest you to know that Jesus in the Hebrew is Yeshua which means, “The salvation of Jehovah.” Yeshua, where does Yeshua first occur in the Old Testament? Did you know that Whenever you read, “The Salvation of the Lord” in the Old Testament you're reading the name in Hebrew, “Yeshua?” First time it occurs in Genesis 49:18 where Jacob is giving prophecies concerning his sons. He comes to the son Dan and says he is like a serpent that bites the heels of the horse and causes the rider to fall a serpent. The very next thing Jacob says is, “Oh Lord, I have waited for Yeshua,” Isn’t that precious? Yeshua is next used again and Exodus 14:13 immediately after the Passover. Moses and the children of Israel have come out of Egypt. They finally got to a place where the armies of the Egyptians are behind them, mountains are on both sides and the Red Sea is in front of them. The people begin to panic. What does Moses say? “Stand still and you will see Yeshua.” I find that to be absolutely amazing, especially when just the night before they took the blood of the lamb and struck the door post and the lintel. What do you think that blood made on the door? It made a cross. Isn’t it amazing. So, there's three things that Gabriel says this Son is going to have: 1) the House of David, 2) the throne of his father, David; 3) He's going to reign over His. Once again, Mary is a student of scripture. Mary is sharp, and she hears three things: a house, a throne, and a kingdom. 2nd Samuel 7:12 says, “When your days are fulfilled, you rest with your fathers, (speaking here, of David) and I will set up your seed after you who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.” Now notice, particularly verse 13, “He shall build a house for My name. I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” You see it? A house, a throne, a kingdom. There is no doubt in my mind that Mary was able to put that together. The next section, Luke 1:34-38 starts when Mary now asks a question, “How can these things be?” How is it going to be accomplished? “Since I am a virgin.” The angel answered. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called a Son of God. Even Elizabeth, your relative, is going to have a child in her old age. And she who was said to be unable to conceive, is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail. I am Lord’s servant, Mary answered, May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. When Mary asked the question, “How can these things be?” It sounds very much like the questions Zacharias asked in Luke 1:18. Zacharias said, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, an old man, and my wife has advanced in years.” The angel rebuked him because of Zacharias unbelief.” Mary's question sounds very much the same, but you see, God knows the heart. God knows the secrets of the heart. And Mary's question here simply has to do with her virginity. “I do not know a man.” And so the angel basically explains that the entire God-head will to go to work as a team and you're going to have a child.. “The Holy Spirit,” he says, “will come upon you and the power of the Highest.” The Most High God is El Elyon of the Old Testament, Then “that Holy One” who is to be born will be called the Son of God.” And so the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit meet together. Gabriel gives to Mary further comfort. “Elizabeth, your relative, has conceived a son in her old age and is now in the sixth month for her who was called baron, for with God, nothing shall be impossible.” Did you ever stop to think that the amazing, miraculous work that God did in Mary is really in essence, what He does in every person that comes to Christ. Because at the moment we believe in Jesus Christ. He, in the person of His Holy Spirit, takes up personal residence within us. The very fact that you have the Spirit of God dwelling within you says that you have the Godhead within you. Because if you go back to Romans 8:9-11, where Paul says, “if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he has none of his,” he refers to the Holy Spirit three ways. Gabriel said to Mary, “the Lord is with you.” But you know what? The Lord wasn't with her, even in the sense that He is with us. God's work in your life is a miraculous work. Paul understood this, and Paul staked his entire life on it when he wrote to the Galatians and he said in Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. Nevertheless, I live; yet not I.” Here's the thing. Empty yourself. He'll fill you with the spirit. “Christ lives in me.” How? How is that possible? He said, “The life that I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” That's the secret. And it's simple. But simple doesn't mean easy. Sometimes simple can be very, very hard. It's very interesting that on one occasion, Jesus disciples, astounded at a statement that He made, said, “Who then can be saved?” You remember what He said? “With men, it's impossible, but with God, all things are possible.” You can check that out in Matthew 19:26. The last we see of Mary here before she departs from the stage, she makes two statements. “Behold a maid servant of the Lord.” And “Let it be according to your Word.” These two statements show us two things about Mary: 1) her availability, and 1) her willingness. Do you think Mary had an inkling of the cost? Do you think she might have realized that this is going to involve some pain? She recognized, for example, that people were not going to understand her situation. Here she is, a young woman who shows up pregnant inviting some shame and disgrace. She likely knew her pregnancy would create some problems for Joseph, as it did. If we look back at the story in Matthew 1:18-20, he was wrestling with in his soul. Apparently, Mary didn't tell Joseph about Gabriel’s visit. And so, we see in Matthew he is wrestling because it says when Mary was “found to be with child.” How do you find somebody to be with child? They start showing, right? She is obviously pregnant, and she is unmarried. “Let it be to me.” I wonder how many of us would be able to say that if the Lord put in front of us the greatest privilege that anyone could ever have with some of the greatest suffering and anguish that you could ever go through? Could we say, “Let it be to me, according to your word.” Do you know what she does here? She said the same thing her Son would say 33 years later in the Garden of Gethsemane. She was going through her own Gethsemane. “All those who journey sooner or late, Must pass beyond the garden gate; Must kneel alone in anguish there, and wrestle with some deep despair. God pity those who only pray, “Let this cup pass,” Who cannot say, “Not mine, but thine,” Who do not see, the purpose of Gethsemane.” We all have our Gethsemane to go through. But we can always say, “Let it be to me according to your word.” Mary couldn't have anticipated what was going to be told to her in Luke 2:35, when Simeon meets her and says, “a sword will pierce through your own soul also.” Now we're talking the cross and her eventually watching her Son die in anguish. She also couldn't have figured that 33 years later, as Jesus is contending with the Pharisees, they would take the question of His birth and throw it in His face and say, “We were not born of fornication” (John 8:41), suggesting, of course, that He probably was. The Dragon So far we’ve seen only a part of the romance of redemption. Moving forward 2000 plus years from the scene with Gabriel, document in Revelation Chapter 12 is the big picture. The woman depicted there with the 12 stars over her head and the moon at her feet represents Israel as we know from the dreams of Joseph. Who represents Israel? “Blessed are you among women.” Particularly the women of Israel. The dragon in Revelation 12 waits for the baby to be born. Here we have Herod and the slaughter of infants. Mary could not have known the phenomenal spiritual cosmic conflict in which she was a small player. Of course, the chapter also anticipates events taking place in the tribulation period. By the way, the stage of the world has been set for the tribulation. That’s where we are right now, my friends. Time is short. Revelation 12:9-10 says, “Then I heard a loud voice saying, in heaven now salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God and the power of His Christ have come for the Accuser of our brethren who accused them before our God. Day night has been cast down.” How many times you think this week the devil brought your name up to God? You know, when he accuses us, when we give him a reason to accuse us, you know, when else he accuses us, when we're blameless. He especially loves to accuse the blameless. Remember, Job? I think it was Peter that said in 1st Peter 5:8, “The devil walks about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.” We do not know what tomorrow holds. We do not know what the next year is going to bring. We do not know what challenges we may face. But we do know one thing. God only accepts victory. The battle is fought to be won. Revelation 12:11 says “They overcame him by the blood of the lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives, even unto death.” There are three things here. The blood of the lamb refers to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. The Word of the testimony I take not to be my personal testimony, but the word to which I testify, namely, Word of God. Here's the challenge. What was it Mary said? “Let it be to me according to your word.” “They love not their lives, even unto death.” How can we not love our own life? Only by loving Christ more? And that's a daily decision and a daily challenge. And I pray that each one of us might have verse 11 said of us in the end. Paul said in 1st Corinthians 7:29-30, “This I say, brethren, the time is short.” “Those who weep will be as though they did not weep. And those who rejoice as though they do not rejoice.” What is he saying here? He simply saying that there are seasons in life, times of joy and times of mourning. In either case, you can take it on the authority of the Word of God that He works all things together for good. Be assured. Be comforted. After the dark comes the dawn. There is light coming. There is joy coming. There is comfort coming. We at Basic Training Bible Ministries are challenged to be more like Mary and have decided “not just to hear, but to do.” Hopefully you are encouraged in this way by these truths as well. Merry Christmas BTBM Staff
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