[Rev. Gerrit Vos (1894-1968) was long-time pastor of the Hudsonville, Michigan Protestant Reformed Church.]
"And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call His name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: and He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:2~33
A few more days hence, and the cheery times of Christmas will again be with us.
Cheery, and that is right. Even the world around about us has caught the cheeriness and the joy of Christmas, and they have for ages tried to imitate the church of our God. There is color, and light, and a kind of joy and singing. Even the actors and the actresses of the stage will sing the Christmas carols! It is so pitiful! All through the year they wallow in the filth of sin and corruption, but during the "Yuletide" they will sing beautifully of the Christ-Child.
Christmas time is a time of great joy that shall be to all people, says the Word of God.
However, that "all people" is not to all men head for head and soul for soul. It is the "all people of God"!
We will talk a little of one of those people. Not exclusively. Oh no. The main theme will be The Son of the Highest! And that is as it should be. He is set in the midst of the frame of the gospel. Paul will know nothing but Jesus. And that is as it should be. Jesus shall occupy the midst of the throne of God, exactly in the midst of that throne: that is, the very heart of God!
But Mary, the lowly handmaiden of the Lord has a moment in our present text. There are three moments: Jesus' mother; Jesus' Name; and Jesus' Kingdom.
Jesus' mother! The lowly Mary!
The Holy Ghost gave her a beautiful name: "The mother of my Lord!" See it for yourselves: Luke 1:43.
No, we will not join in the Mariolatry of the Roman Catholic Church. The dictionary says of this term: "The worship of Mary, the mother of Christ: an opprobrious term used by some Protestants of the veneration of the Virgin by Roman Catholics."
But we may not fall into the other extreme and be silent about the great blessedness which was her portion.
She is the most blessed of women.
First, a special and a great angel of God was sent to her: Gabriel.
Second, in his very first word he tells her of a great gladness and joy which is to be her portion. For the fundamental meaning of "Hall!" is exactly the notion of joy and gladness.
Third, the angel expresses the ground for this joy:
Mary, thou art highly graced; the Lord is with thee; and, blessed art thou among women!
Fourth, this same angel Gabriel will tell her the content of all this joy and gladness: the favor and grace of God that is thy portion is this: Thou shalt conceive in thy womb the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Jesus Christ, the Son of the Highest shall be thy child. Thou shalt bear Him, bring Him forth, nurture Him, and have Him with thee for a third of a century. Oh, indeed, Mary, thou art the most blessed of women: thou shalt be called the very mother of the Lord! The mystery of godliness shall take place within thee: the Incarnation of God! That which shall take place within thee will be the subject for study of all future theologians. The whole church of the living God shall ponder about the thing that shall take place within thee. And all shall agree: Mary is the most favored, the most graced, the most blessed of all women not only, but of all mortals.
And: thou shalt call His Name Jesus.
There is heavenly melody in that blessed Name.
What would this world be without the Name of Jesus!
It has charmed the heart of all the weary pilgrims that seek their way to the Paradise of God.
It has filled the whole world with melodious joy. The Name, Jesus, all by itself, is as a heavenly anthem, a strange melody, which, when once heard, really heard, causes one to forget all the sorrows he ever had. The melody is heard in all known languages, among all peoples, within a myriad hearts and souls. It has pressed back into their dungeons more black thoughts, more doubts, more horrors than there are sands on the seashore. It has transformed the poor and disconsolate and sick at heart until they thought themselves the owners of a world that is fairer than day. The Name Jesus is so beautiful that it has miraculously changed the black hearts of God's elect children into shining sanctuaries of the living God.
I remember three little girls singing a song about Jesus, many, many years ago. I did not go to school yet, so I must have been very young. The song was the well-known: "Daar ruischt langs de wolken een lieflijken Naam! Die hemel en aarde vereenigt te saam!" And when these three little girls (my three sisters) came to the last stanza, I heard them sing: Jezus, Jezus, Uw Naam ziu eer!" This little boy was thrilled with a strange thrill. That thrill has stayed with me. And it will stay with me till the moon shall shine no more. And then I shall sing that Name unto all eternity. For I shall see Him face to face, and tell the story: Saved by grace!
There is no charm like the charm of the Name Jesus. It has consoled the sick and made them smile of heavenly consolation; it has sung courage in the hearts of the miserable; it made dying soldiers die easier when they whispered this Name; it visited the prisoner and broke his chains; it made the slave freer than his master; it led the army of God's sons and daughters through the swelling waves and billows of the dark Jordan of death. The majestic Name of Jesus brings us all near to the heart of God!
And many years I did not realize that Jesus is really Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts. I saw Him, and loved Him, but as a child and young man I did not recognize Him as God! Oh, I knew the dogmas of the church. When my "Dominee" asked me: "How many natures are there in Christ?" I would correctly answer: "Two, a human and a divine nature." But Jesus was the Christ-child, the suffering Man of sorrows; I saw His stripes and wounds, and heard the drops of blood falling from His wounds beneath and cross beam of the accursed tree. But the truth of the divine Godhead on the tree had receded in my consciousness.
But Jesus is THE SON OF THE HIGHEST!
It is the Covenant God of Israel Who came to visit His people.
Jesus is God Who came to do a wonder that transcends my comprehension. Lying there in the manger, He carries the load of the eternal wrath of God. And only God can exhaust the wrath that is everlasting. Jesus is God in human garb. Justice and righteousness demanded that God be also man, but God He is.
God purchases God there on that tree, and the price is God!
It is the real reason for the cheer of Christmas.
Jesus means now that I can die in peace, and also live in peace.
The greatest horror I know is the question we sang in another land and in another time: "How are you able to appear righteous before God?" (Hoe zult giu rechtvaardig verschijnen voor God?)
Not many days ago I said to a sister in the hospital: How are the wicked able to live? And how are they able to die? How can they die?
What must be the sensation to dose your eyes in death, and at once stand in the presence of God? What must be the sensation to fall into the hands of the living God? For He is a consuming fire! If there is no Jesus for us, how bleak, how dreadfully poor is our estate! God's Word calls it to appear naked in His presence.
But Jesus is a cloak, a covering, a redemption, a salvation, a righteousness, a glittering heaven! "Oh, Jesus, in Thee I hide me!"
And the third moment is the Kingdom.
"He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give Him the throne of His father David."
Jesus is King!
He is our King: He shall rule us. Indeed, He rules us now by His blessed Word and Spirit.
David, His father, was but a type, a very weak type. But the text, and a thousand other texts, show that David was the strongest and the most beautiful type of all. David was the man after God's own heart.
For our King appears very humble. And so was David. Though he was king of Israel, his psalms picture him as the most humble man of all history. David was usually found in the dust and on his knees. That is the fundamental reason why he was a man after God's heart. God loves the humble.
And no, there is not one like the humble Jesus. No, not one! No, not one!
Beloved, that is the reason why God has exalted your Jesus to be King of all the elect. You all know of His triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Well, listen: "Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass!"
Have Him ever before thee, beloved! The King in His meekness. You confess that Jesus once shall be crowned in the presence of His God, His holy angels, the bad men and the good men, and that you shall share in His glory, the glory of an everlasting Kingdom. It is well. But remember that He received the Kingdom because of His great humility.
And you and I?
We shall never sit on thrones with Him unless you and I have traveled the way of great humility and meekness. If you would arrive in your throne, you had better remember that this King said to you and to me in His state of humiliation, "Come, take up thy cross and follow Me!" Mark 10:21b.
Oh yes, Christmas time is a time of cheer, of great joy for the church of God.
But when you visit the stable and look upon the manger and the Babe, remember the fundamental law of the Kingdom of God: He that humbleth himself shall be exalted!
The cheer of your King, His Kingdom, and your part follows the way of suffering, reproach, and great tribulation for His name's sake.
And then the end is glory, and a great salvation.
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Last modified, 14-Jul-1997