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 14, 2016
God Comes to Mary - December 14, 2016 - Third Advent Midweek - Text: Luke 1:26-38
Last week we were with Zechariah as the angel, Gabriel, announced to him that his wife Elizabeth, though barren and beyond child bearing years, would conceive and bear a son and that son would be the way preparer for the Messiah, the Savior of the world. At which point we also heard Zechariah’s words of doubt and skepticism, “how can this be?” This week we come to the scene of a young virgin, maybe thirteen, certainly not older than sixteen. We hear the same angel, Gabriel, greet her and announce that she will be the mother of the Messiah, the Savior of the world. As we hear the angel make his announcement to Mary we will certainly notice a difference in how the message is received. Remember Zechariah was old, experienced in the ways of life, even in the cruelty of not having children. He grew up as a priest in the temple worshiping, sacrificing to and praying to a God who seemed to, all but, have abandoned His people. I would suggest that he would have ample reason to be skeptical. This evening we will find quite a contrast in Mary. Well, let us get to it.
We begin by reviewing what we know about Mary. Our text reminds us that she was a descendant of David, as was her betrothed (v. 26-27). This is important, because we know that the promised Messiah would come from the line of David. If she were not from the line of David we would know that she could not be the mother of the Messiah.
We know that although she was betrothed, she had not yet been formally married and had never had relations with a man (v. 27). In the terminology of that day and even of today we would say that they had not yet consummated the marriage.
Now, last week we talked about Zechariah and Elizabeth and we noted all along that nothing of their ancestry, nothing of their lives, nothing in and of themselves, made them worthy of being a part of God’s plan of salvation. To be fair we should also note that there really is nothing in Mary’s ancestry and nothing in her life that makes her worthy of being a part of God’s plan of salvation, either. Yes, she was from the line of David, but so were many other young women. Yes, she was unmarried and a virgin, but certainly so were many other young women. Which brings us to the same point we made last week, it was by God’s grace that He chose Mary to be the mother of God. Not that Mary is to be worshiped and revered, but it was God who chose her, not because of anything on her part, but simply by His grace. Again, God is acting and doing the things He does not according to our reason or logic, but according to His good will and pleasure and according to those things that bring praise and glory to His Holy Name.
So, what happened in Mary’s house? Our text tells us that she was greeted by the angel as one who was highly favored and this high favor was by God’s grace (v. 28). She was given God’s grace, she did not earn it. It was God’s grace that He put upon her and because of the grace He put on her she was highly favored. And notice Mary’s response, she was troubled (v. 29). Certainly she knew her sinful nature, that she was conceived and born in sin and that she was a sinner and now here she is standing in the presence of an angel, a messenger from God, of course this would have been troubling.
After greeting Mary, the angel announced that she would give birth to a child and that child would be the Savior of the world (v. 30-33). We do not spend enough time with this simple announcement, as we should. Because, you see, what the angel has just announce to Mary is that she will be a part of the fulfillment of all the prophecies of the Old Testament and the hope of the world. She will give birth to the Son promised to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. She would give birth to the one who would give His life as a sacrifice for her sins as well as for the sins of the world, and for your sins and mine. She would give birth to God Himself. This really is an announcement that would knock a person over.
Mary’s response to this announcement was not a question of doubt, but a question of “procedure” (v. 34). We might suggest that she was still young enough that she had not yet developed the skepticism that Zechariah had when he questioned the angel. Mary knew how babies were born. She knew that she was not married and that she had not consummated the marriage with Joseph. She knew that physically, according to nature, this could not happen and so she asked how this would happen.
The angel explains to her what will happen (v. 35-37). What will happen will happen only by the power and hand of God. What will happen will be nothing short of a miracle. What will happen is that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her, will impregnate her. Just ast the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God to impregnate us with with, to give faith, so the Holy Spirit works through the Word of God for Mary to conceive. Because this Child is conceived by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, the Child that is conceived in her will be both God and man. Mary will become the mother of a son who will be both God and man.
So, with the faith of a child, Mary submits to the will of the Lord (v. 38). I wonder if she understands the ramifications of what is about to happen. Certainly she knows that to be pregnant out of marriage could mean her life, being stoned to death. She does not know what her betrothed husband will say because she did not talk it over with him. She simply answers in faith and submits to God’s will and says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
As we were reminded last week with the conception of John to a mother and father who were beyond child bearing years and barren, with God all things are possible. God’s miracles do not depend on us and our belief or unbelief. Miracles happen because God makes them happen.
This evening we come together to continue preparing ourselves for our celebration of the new born King. We remind ourselves that it was not only for the sins of Adam and Eve that God promised to send a Savior, but it is for our sins as well.
This evening we are reminded once again of the great love our God has for us, so much that He intervened into our human history to make a promise to send a Savior and to fulfill His promise. Yes, we are reminded once again that this baby whose birth we are preparing once again to celebrate was born to die, for you and for me.
The events that we are “seeing” are not logical and reasonable, at least not according to our human understanding, but we realize that with God all things are possible. Indeed, what we are seeing is God loving us, His children. We see God acting according to what He knows we need and according to what is best for us. We see God doing what needs to be done for us because of His great love for us.
This evening we come again to see that our salvation is near, that Jesus Christ the Lord, was born as true God and true man. We see how Jesus is ushering in the Kingdom of God, indeed the last days of this world, we are living in the end times. And we continue getting ready to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
I would imagine that if I asked you if you thought your faith was more like Zechariah’s or Mary’s we would all like to say Mary’s, but we would probably have to admit, it really is more like Zechariah’s. How often we doubt God’s work and power in our own lives and especially in our own church and we demonstrate our doubt through our actions or rather, through our lack of action. As we continue in this Advent season I pray that the Lord would “melt” our hearts so that we could all be more like and have a faith more like Mary’s. I pray that we all may first and foremost believe God’s forgiveness and then share that forgiveness with others. As the Lord calls you to be His child in service to Him in His kingdom, I pray that He would move us all to answer, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.