Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The Angel to Mary - Advent Mid-week 2 - December 12, 2012 - Text: Luke 1:26-38
As we outlined last week as we began this series on the work of the angels, the angels became very prominent in the work of the Lord at the time of the birth of Jesus. Last week we took up the announcement by the angel that God sent to announce to Zachariah the birth of the one who would prepare the way for Jesus, John the Baptist. This evening we take up the announcement of the angel sent from the Lord to Mary that she had found favor with God and would be the mother of God.
Again, as we did last week, before we get to the actual announcement, let us take a moment to look at the message receiver. The one to whom the angel was to announce was Mary, the woman who would be the mother of God Himself, God in flesh. About Mary we know that she was a virgin, a young woman who had never been with a man. She was single and not married. She was young, perhaps between the ages of 13-16. And we are told that she had found favor with God. way we might look at this finding favor is that we might infer that this favor with God was something like the fact that we were told last week that Zachariah and Elizabeth were blameless. The implication is that Mary was a good girl.
We also know that she was betrothed, that is she was engaged to be married. Yet, we need to understand that this betrothal was not exactly like our engagement today. To be betrothed meant that the couple was actually married, yet they were not yet living in the same house, nor had they consummated the marriage. This betrothal also meant that if the couple, or better said, if the husband did not desire to be married, the couple would actually have to have a legal divorce to separate the betrothal. So, unlike our engagement, betrothal was legally binding.
Mary was betrothed, legally married to Joseph, thus Joseph was her husband. Joseph was of the line of David, the kingly line of David. This information is important to know, because this substantiates the claim of Jesus Messiahship, that He was born of the line of King David.
Now, as for the angel, the messenger who was sent to Mary, to announce God’s message to her, we are told that the angels name was Gabriel. Now, I do not know too much about angels, how many angels are named Gabriel, but I would suppose that this angel Gabriel is the same angel Gabriel that was sent to Zechariah.
As the angel approaches Mary he greets her. His greetings is an announcement that she has found favor with God. We previously inferred that this greeting may have meant that she was a good girl. Another way to understand these words is that it is Mary who is being given favor. It is not Mary who is giving God favor by her actions. There is an artistic relief in one of the hospitals in Corpus Christi which depicts the angel Gabriel kneeling before Mary and kissing her hand. I really do not see that depicted in this text. It is not Mary who is the prime actor in this text, rather it is God who sends His angel Gabriel who is the prime mover.
Gabriel’s words are words of peace, “Do not be afraid;” words of encouragement, “you have found favor with God, or you are being given favor from God;” and words of instruction, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Again, as last week, we have some words of exchange in response to the appearance, greeting and announcement of the angel. Mary asks a question concerning the birth of this child, but unlike Zechariah’s question which was a question stemming from skepticism and doubt, after all he was old and had been praying for a child for many years, Mary’s question was not a question of doubt, but was a question of, shall we say, “mechanics.” Mary knew how children were conceived and so, being a virgin, being betrothed and not yet having consummated the marriage, she was simply asking how the angels announcement would come about.
The angel explains to Mary that what will happen will happen by the power of God. Mary will become pregnant, but not in the usual way. God the Holy Spirit will, to use the words of our text, “come upon [her], and the power of the Most High will overshadow [her].” Thus, the child will be truly God, conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and truly man, truly human, born of the human woman, Mary.
Now, even though Mary’s question was not a question of doubt and did not ask for any proof if you will, just as the angel provided proof for Zachariah, so he provided proof for Mary as well. As “proof” of God’s power and the validity of these events the angel points to Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth who was thought to be barren and beyond child bearing years yet now, by the power of God she is indeed pregnant. As a matter of fact she is six months pregnant according to the angel.
Gabriel’s words to Mary are indeed words to us and words for us to remember, especially when we think that something is impossible. As the angel tells Mary, all of these events will take place because “nothing will be impossible with God.” It is God who is in control. It is God who is in charge. It is God who is the prime mover. God has promised that these events will take place and He is now moving these events into happening.
Mary’s response is that she concedes and consents to what the angel has said and what God has proposed and is giving to her. She consents to be the handmaiden of God. Obviously she has no idea of what she is doing, what she is getting into, or what will happen and where all this will lead, but, by the power of God, by the moving of the Holy Spirit in her heart, mind and life, she consents to being the mother of God.
Mary, chosen by God, impregnated by the Holy Spirit, betrothed to Joseph, a man of honor, is fulfilling God’s promise to send a Messiah, Jesus, Christ the Savior who would be born in nine months, according to the usual, earthy way in which children are born.
What does this mean? One thing I hope you noticed again this evening like last week is that it was not Mary who approached God. It was not because she was blameless that God chose her. Again, if both of these statements were true, then we would naturally point to ourselves and we would be the reason that God does what He does. Because we know that we are not the prime movers, but that God is the Prime Mover, we know that it was God who chose Mary. It was God who chose her to fulfill His promises of old. It was God who chose to send His angel, Gabriel to bring her the message of the coming events. As always, it always begins with God.
Throughout the Old Testament God told His people, you and me included, what was going to happen. Now we are getting God’s fulfillment of these promises. Now we can be certain, from the promises and from the fulfillment that Jesus us who He says He is. God is a God with power. God’s Word is a Word with power, the power to do what He says. As we continue our preparation to celebrate Jesus’ birth, may we do so in all faith and confidence that this was ordained and accomplished according to God’s good and gracious will and so is efficacious for our salvation. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.