Sometimes in a movie, the scenes cut back and forth between two different characters in what appears to be two distinct plotlines…only for their storylines to suddenly merge unexpectedly.
Something like that is happening in our text this morning. We’ve met Zechariah and Elizabeth, and rejoiced with them when the angel Gabriel told them God had answered their prayer, and they would conceive a child in their old age.
We watched as Elizabeth withdrew from public eye, keeping her pregnancy quiet for the first 5 months, secretly cherishing this miraculous life in her womb.
Then the screen faded, and a new scene came into focus—a young Galilean virgin named Mary, engaged and awaiting her wedding day, also encountered the angel, Gabriel.
We shared in her astonishment when he told her that God had chosen her to bear the Savior, the King, the Son of God… Jesus into the world. And we marveled as Mary agreed, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
But just before Mary gave her consent to this noble calling, Gabriel mentioned a detail that seemed a bit out of place—her barren relative, Elizabeth, will bear a son. And so, within days of Gabriel’s announcement, Mary packs her bags and heads South to see the one person on earth who will be sure to understand her. She goes to see Elizabeth, as these two ladies’ stories merge into a common plotline.
Three startling surprises from this story:
1) An Unexpected Witness
The first witness of the incarnation is a pre-born baby, John the Baptist, who leaps in Elizabeth’s womb.
As Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and prophecies the words of blessing to Mary. And here’s what’s amazing…That means Elizabeth knew Mary was pregnant before she did!
And the preborn baby John knew even before Elizabeth did!
Isn’t that remarkable?!? God would choose an in-utero pre-born baby as the first witness to the coming of Messiah.
2) An Unlikely Pedigree
Elizabeth’s blessing of Mary is touching because she knows the magnitude of what is taking place.
And then Mary, overwhelmed with joy as she realizes she’s pregnant with the Son of God… bursts out with this beautiful poem we know as “The Magnificat.” It’s the first ever Christmas carol!
You see, God could have chosen anyone. He could have picked a young woman from any number of wealthy, affluent, well-connected, and upwardly mobile Jewish families. But He didn’t. He chose Mary; a nobody from nowhere.
The first choice for the incarnation is a peasant girl.
Why would He do that? Because God takes the overlooked, the devalued, the discarded, and crowns them with glory!
3) An Unparalleled Kingdom
Mary’s poem now expands from what God has done for her, to what God is doing more broadly in the world.
The first sign of the incarnation is a grand inversion.
God is in the business of turning the world upside-down! The moment Jesus shows up, the world starts turning upside-down. Or should we say, right-side-up?
Takeaway: Jesus’ Kingdom is turning the world upside-down.
That’s what grace does; it turns the world upside-down.
See, you might think that the plotline of your life is over here… totally distinct from the plotline of Jesus’ life. But at the cross your storylines suddenly merge unexpectedly. Because Jesus is on the cross for you. He’s offering grace to you. He’s looking upon your humble estate, and saying, “Come to me. Trust in me. And I will raise you to royal rank. I will give you the right to become children of God! Sons and Daughters of the King!”
Grace is when your storylines merge and become one… “aha… I get it… brilliant.”
Jesus’ Kingdom is turning the world upside-down: Has He turned your world upside-down?