Monday, November 25, 2013

“Jesus’ Birth Foretold” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International/Uniform Sunday School Lesson 
For Sunday December 1, 2013

Purpose: To recognize God often uses ordinary people, even the the vulnerable, to accomplish the divine purpose

Bible Lesson
Background Scripture: Luke 1:26-45
Today’s scripture: Luke 1:26-40 (CEB)
(26) When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee, (27) to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. (28) When the angel came to her, he said, "Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!" (29) She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. (30) The angel said, "Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you. (31) Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. (32) He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. (33) He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom."

(34) Then Mary said to the angel, "How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?"

(35) The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. 36 Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. 37 Nothing is impossible for God." (38) Then Mary said, "I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said." Then the angel left her.

(39) Mary got up and hurried to a city in the Judean highlands.40 She entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Our lessons for the next three months will focus on “Jesus and the Just Reign of God.” For the next four weeks we will be focusing on the Season of Advent.

I will give you a few facts about the author of the Gospel of Luke. Luke spoke and wrote in Greek and was also familiar with Aramaic, the language of Jesus and his disciples. According to Colossians 4:14, he was probably a physician, and he was with Paul in Rome (2 Timothy 4:11) during Paul’s final imprisonment. Luke had no direct personal experience with Jesus, but was a fellow missionary (Philemon 24) and a student of Paul’s. Both of Luke’s books (Luke and Acts) were addressed to Theophilus, thought to be from the upper class of Roman society. Historians disagree on the timing of Luke and Acts writing. It could have been as early as 60 AD or as late as 90 AD. Because there is no mention of Paul’s death or the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, I would lean toward the earlier date.

Our lesson today focuses on the way God uses ordinary people to accomplish the extraordinary. We know little about Mary, except that God saw her as a vessel he could use for the most important event in history. He also used a relative to reinforce how God can do the impossible. If Mary was hesitant about God’s ability to perform miracles, she did not have to look any further than a relative that was well beyond childbearing years becoming pregnant.

In looking back God often chose the most unlikely, Abrahams parents worshipped idols, Jacob was a deceiver, Moses was a murderer, Gideon was a coward, Samson was a womanizer. David was only a shepherd boy. Unlike us, God looks on the inward man, he does not go by appearance or position. God is looking for someone willing to do as he instructs. Mary was just the right girl, to give birth, and raise a son of God, she gave her full commitment to follow God’s instructions. Joseph was the perfect earthly father to raise and love a son that he did not father.

Mary and Joseph, Elizabeth and Zacharias, were just common peasants doing what was necessary to survive in their world, but they were very devout in their belief that they were first of all servants of the most high God, and nothing else really mattered.

There is a little known Hymn Called, “To a Maid Engaged to Joseph” that tells this story. It was written by Gracia Grindal with the melody by Rusty Edwards in 1983.

1 To a maid engaged to Joseph, the angel Gabriel came.
“Fear not,” the angel told her, “I come to bring good news,
good news I come to tell you, good news, I say, good news.
2 “For you are highly favored by God the Lord of all,
who even now is with you. You are on earth most blest,
you are most blest, most blessèd, God chose you, you are blest!”
3 But Mary was most troubled to hear the angel’s word.
What was the angel saying? It troubled her to hear,
to hear the angel’s message, it troubled her to hear.
4 “Fear not, for God is with you, and you shall bear a child.
His name shall be called Jesus, God’s offspring from on high.
And he shall reign forever, forever reign on high.”
5 “How shall this be?” said Mary, “I am not yet a wife.”
The angel answered quickly, “The power of the Most High
will come upon you shortly, your child will be God’s child.”
6 As Mary heard the angel, she wondered at his words.
“Behold, I am your handmaid,” she said unto her God.
“So be it; I am ready according to your word.”

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