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LSB Advent 4B Sermon – Luke 1:26-38

December 23, 2014

December 21, 2014 at Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church – Mechanicsburg, Pa

“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

David’s desire was to build a house for the LORD: “Now when the king lived in his house and the LORD had given him rest from all his surrounding enemies, the king said to Nathan the prophet, ‘See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.’” David’s desire stemmed from what he had received from the LORD. He wasn’t under threat from his opponents. He was ruling over Israel with great power and ability. His own dwelling place was made of the finest cedar. All of this were exhibits of the LORD’s favor shown to David.

But when the LORD knew that David planned to build Him a house for the ark of the covenant, He did not desire this from His favored one: “But that same night the word of the LORD came to Nathan, ‘Go and tell My servant David, “Thus says the LORD: Would you build Me a house to dwell in?”’” David’s desire may have flowed from gratitude for receiving the LORD’s favor. But the LORD did not desire to receive anything from him. He did not need anything from David.

The LORD makes very clear that David is a recipient of His favor, not the other way around: “Thus says the LORD of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel. And I have been with you wherever you went and have cut off all your enemies from before you.” And He extends the terms of that favor: “And I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth…. And I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover, the LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house….  And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before Me. Your throne shall be established forever.” The LORD declares that He will be providing even more for David. The LORD will raise up a Descendant for David that will exercise complete rule and power, not reigning like a king over a country for a time but over all things for eternity.

The annunciation to Mary that you heard in the Gospel Reading is the fulfillment of that promise made to David. The LORD’s angel speaks to her: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” And the angel declares what will be done through her: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

The fulfillment of this promise shows why the LORD did not need David to build Him a dwelling place. Instead, the LORD was going to dwell among mankind. In the past, that dwelling was done in a tabernacle: “I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for My dwelling.” But now, the LORD was going to dwell in flesh and blood: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God.”

But why was this going to happen? Certainly to fulfill the LORD’s promise. But why was the promise made? What moves this entire enterprise? The LORD is showing favor to His people. He is bringing about the salvation that had been foretold long ago. There will be the overcoming of enemies who afflict and torment His people. This is how Jesus will demonstrate His greatness.

The greatness that the LORD exhibits in Jesus is described further in the Psalter: “My faithfulness and My steadfast love shall be with Him, and in My name shall His horn be exalted. I will set His hand on the sea and His right hand on the rivers. He shall cry to Me, ‘You are My Father, My God, and the Rock of My salvation.’ And I will make Him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My steadfast love I will keep for Him forever, and My covenant will stand firm for Him. I will establish His offspring forever and His throne as the days of the heavens.” 

But note that the greatness that the LORD exhibits in Jesus extends beyond Him. Yes, this Jesus is great. Yes, He is the Son of the Most High God. Yes, He possesses David’s throne. Yet, there is more. The LORD makes the promise: “I will establish His offspring forever and His throne as the days of the heavens.” Not only will there be a greatness that Jesus holds for Himself, His offspring will carry it.

So how does this take place? Does Jesus have sons and daughters like David? No, that isn’t so. But there are people who become His offspring, who find their source and origin in Him and His work. That is who you are, along with all who have been given to know His favor and steadfast love. This is what has been achieved by Jesus’ being the Redeemer who routs the enemies of mankind and delivering them. It is accomplished by the LORD’s will being fulfilled in Jesus: “The enemy shall not outwit Him; the wicked shall not humble Him. I will crush His foes before Him and strike down those who hate Him.”

The Son whom Mary bears becomes the great Savior of our fallen race. Exercising the greatness that He has as being the Son of the Most High God, Jesus fulfills the name that was given to Him. He saves people. He exercises His power for the benefit of others. Jesus takes His authority as the Holy One and uses it to bring holiness to others. Jesus takes His Sonship and extends it so that others may be heirs of the Most High God. Jesus rules eternally and makes others part of His kingdom.

Sinners are turned to saints. Mortals are given a share in the resurrection. Those who only knew evil are renewed to desire what is righteous. Rebels against the LORD are now welcomed members of His household. But none of this has not been done by you. How can this be? Salvation is what the Jesus born of Mary has done for you. Through His actions, the LORD’s favor is shown to you. The Holy Spirit comes upon you and the power of the Most High overshadows you. So you share in the holiness that Jesus possesses.

And now the LORD elects to dwell with you. He does not need you to build Him a home. There isn’t the construction of a building for Him. Instead the LORD makes a place for Himself among you. He places Himself in your presence with the Scriptures that testify about His identity and work. His Spirit lives in you. He makes Himself accessible in the Sacraments, so that you may continue to receive forgiveness, life, and salvation. All is done according to His Word.

The LORD’s Word of promise includes a statement about a security that will be yours: “And I will appoint a place for My people Israel and will plant them, so that they may dwell in their own place and be disturbed no more.” That promise has not yet been fulfilled. But it will be when the Risen Jesus returns. He will bring the LORD’s people—including you—into the place that He has established to be their own: the new heaven and new earth that are renewed through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Once again, the LORD’s steadfast love and faithfulness will be shown. Once again, you will be a recipient of the LORD’s favor.

So what should be done about this? Do you need to build a place for the LORD? No. Do you need to invent all sorts of ways to serve the LORD that He hasn’t established? No. But you can do as the psalmist did: “I will sing of the steadfast love of the LORD, forever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations. For I said, ‘Steadfast love will be built up forever; in the heavens You will establish Your faithfulness.’” You can speak about the LORD’s steadfast love that you have received. You can testify to His faithfulness. You can gratefully acknowledge your status as one of His favored people. You can confess your belief that Jesus is the Heir of David who will reign eternally. And you can anticipate being recipients of the full benefits of what the Son of God has done for you. Let it be according to His Word, and you will be called His offspring and live in His kingdom forever.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

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