Sermon Discussion: Born of the Virgin Mary
Date: for sermon of October 19, 2008
Text: Luke 1:25ff
Rather than speculate about how a virgin birth could or could not happen, or defend God's capacity to perform miracles, our focus will be on placing the significance of the virgin birth (and I believe it was a literal virgin birth) in its historical context to understand some of the significance for the early church.
It's important to understand that the virgin birth is the culmination of a long line of unlikely births occuring among god's chosen people. Abraham and Sarah gave birth to Isaac in their old age. Isaac and Rebekka praying for a child and received Jacob and Esau. Jacob's favorit wife, Rachel, was barren for many years while his 'lesser' wife was fruitful. There are several other stories in the Old Testament that carry this same theme: God is the source of fruitfulness. The fullest expression of this truth is seen in the Holy Spirit coming upon the Mary the virgin so that she becomes preganant and gives birth to Jesus, for there is no greater assurance of an empty womb than virginity!
The meaning of these things for us has to do with our call to be fruitful as the bride of Christ, allowing His life to so fill us that we become not only recipients of His life, but so that we allow that life to be born into the world through us. Giving birth is where the greatest sacrifice and greatest blessings meet - and it because of the sacrifice that some resist receiving and imparting life.
1. What are some of the costs that came to Mary because of the timing and manner of her pregnancy? What are some of the costs that came to her by virtue of being Jesus' mother?
2. In spite of all the costs and challenges, Mary's response is one of trust and availability, resulting in her outpouring of praise for the privilege of being chosen to carry Christ's life. Why do you think she saw her out of wedlock pregnancy as a gift from God, rather than a bother? What in her attitude is instructive for us today?
3. Name a time when the presence of Jesus in your life has been disruptive. What was your initial response? Why?
4. In what area of life are you longing for God's fruit to be seen? Is there an area where you're resisting, hesitant to allow Christ's birth for fear of what it will mean? Pray for one another about these things.