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St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord
07 January 2018
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
+ In the Name of Jesus +
The Augsburg Confession, Article XXI says, “Our churches teach that the history of saints may be set before us so that we may follow the example of their faith and good works, according to our calling.”
Saint Paul in his epistle to the Galatians sets out to do precisely that, to show us an example of the faith and good works of the Virgin Mary. However, he does so even without mentioning Mary’s name. He writes, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” God’s Son is born of woman, that is, born of the Virgin Mary.
One could say that this is precisely what we confess in both the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. But not quite. Notice that the focus of the Apostle Paul is– God sent forth His Son, “born of woman” he writes, and so Paul focuses not on what Mary does, but on Jesus. One ought to think that Mary would want that, too. The example of her faith here would be, to paraphrase another saint, “I must decrease, my Son must increase.”
One of the most scandalous things Christians confess about Jesus is that He is truly human, with real human flesh and blood. Ancient people did not have too hard of a time imagining that Jesus was some kind of a god, but they had a very difficult time imagining that this Jesus was at the same time truly a man. In the ancient world some people said that Jesus was born through Mary, as light passes through glass untouched. You see, there was a concern about tarnishing “divine” things with physical matter such as human flesh. This concern also limits Islam and the Koran concerning Jesus, for they falter as to how the divine could be involved in the mess of the creation – God could not debase himself to experiencing the normal human functions, surmises Mohammed.
Our world today is totally flummoxed, for it has long thrown away and suspended belief in the supernatural. If you turn on the History Channel, most of the shows about Jesus portray Him as all too human. Many modern skeptics have a hard time seeing Jesus as God, because they also have difficulty believing that God would be a human just like you and me, except without sin. You see, the physical world and human flesh is messy business. If you need proof, think about how messy your life has been, or how much of a mess the lives of your friends and family have been. The skeptic today cannot get around what he can observe and sense. People do have a hard time imagining that God could become involved in all of that, that God would concern Himself with and be so involved with the creation.
Yet this is precisely what Jesus did by being “born of a woman.” God was and is so concerned. For us men and for our salvation, God’s Son came down from heaven, He took on human flesh, born under the law, so that He could redeem you and me and every sinner suffering under the law. Jesus took your sin upon himself, from the moment of conception until His death on the cross. Jesus became the second Adam who overcomes the sin of the first Adam. Whatever sin you have done, whatever abuse, grief, sorrow you have had in this sin marred world, whatever accusation you have rightly or wrongly endured because of your sin, all of that now belongs to Jesus, because he was born of woman, born under the law, and so bore all the weight of this world’s sin innocently, suffered, and died as your substitute. He took in His divine human body all of your sin and shame, and in exchange gives you His righteousness and holiness. He has forgiven you all your sins, making you holy, blessed children of God, adopted Sons of the Father and co-heirs with Him, destined to live eternally.
He leaves His heavenly Father’s throne,
Is born an infant small,
And in a manger, poor and lone, lies in a humble stall…
Within an earthborn form He hides
His all creating light;
To serve us all He humbly cloaks the splendor of His might…
He undertakes a great exchange,
Puts on our human frame,
And in return gives us His realm, His glory, and His name…
He is a servant, I a lord:
How great a mystery!
How strong the tender Christ Child’s love! No truer friend than He,
No truer friend than He. (LSB #389; stanzas 2-5, public domain)
Thus did Mary sing, and so should we, rejoicing in God, our Savior, God’s Son born of woman, our truest and most needed friend, who is the Key and the Door to blessed paradise.
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +