For this third Sunday in December we post an excerpt from a sermon of Martin Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) found in the book Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus: Experiencing the Peace and Promise of Christmas (ed. Nancy Guthrie; Crossway, 2008).
The title is “The Great Fulfillment” and is based on Luke 1:54-55 (an excerpt from My Soul Magnifies the Lord: Meditations on the Meaning of Christmas, Crossway, 1988). Here are a few of Lloyd-Jones’ thoughts on this passage:
The incarnation is the supreme example of fulfilled prophecy, the supreme example of God’s faithfulness to his promises. And this is surely most comforting, especially as we consider it in the setting of the world in which we find ourselves.
The great covenant promise concerning redemption was made in its most explicit manner to Abraham. You can find it prior to that, but the definition of it, as it were, the explicit statement of it, is made to Abraham when he is told that in him, in his seed, shall all the world be blessed (Gen.12:3). That is what Mary is referring to when she says, ‘He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy to Abraham, and to his seed for ever’ (Luke 1:54, KJV).
…Mary at once sees the significance of what is happening – the significance of the Son that is to be born out of her womb.
…Mary sees now God is going to fulfill all these promises that he as made – ‘mercy to Abraham, and his seed forever.’ But how is it happening? ‘It happens,’ she said, ‘like this: “He hath holpen his servant Israel,” and that word means to succor, to help, or, perhaps better still, to lift up.
She is referring primarily, of course, to salvation itself, and that is where her statement is so significant. God had made this promise to Abraham concerning salvation, forgiveness, and reconciliation unto himself. We tend to forget that what God said to Abraham was that this salvation that was to come was to be brought about through this descendant of his that was yet to be born into this world.
…Here now, says Mary, is the great anti-type himself. Now God is going to fulfill all this mercy that he had promised…. And this means there is only one way of salvation; it means that all salvation and every aspect of it comes in this one way – in Jesus Christ, the Son of God and him crucified, made an offering for sin.
…Here is the fulfillment of all mercies. There is no forgiveness apart from Jesus Christ and him crucified. There is no true knowledge of God apart from him. There is no blessing apart from him. As the apostle Paul puts it in 2 Corinthians 1:20 (KJV): ‘For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” “He hath holpen his servant Israel.”