1. The Birth of Jesus Foretold

Posted: June 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

(Luke 1:26-38)

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”  Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.  But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.  You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”  “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”  The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.”  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

 

Going Deeper

Why would Mary have said “yes”?  I’m sure it was an imposing sight to encounter an angel, but the Bible is filled with people who said “no” to God.  God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and he chose to run in the opposite direction.  Moses came up with an assortment of excuses why his brother Aaron would be a better choice to lead the Israelites.  Mary was an unlikely candidate for this particular mission.  She was a teenager, a very ordinary person.

She certainly had a lot to lose by agreeing to what was being asked of her.  First, she would have to explain her pregnancy to her parents, not to mention her fiancée.  What would the neighbors think?  Her reputation and the reputation of her parents would be ruined.  Who could possibly believe her story?  She was betrothed to Joseph.  He could break the betrothal because of the pregnancy, accusing Mary of adultery.  The penalty for this under Jewish law (Deuteronomy 22:20-24) was death by stoning.  There was no opportunity for her to think it over, to consult with her family or her fiancée.  The angel needed an answer, and there were certainly a lot of practical reasons to decline the offer.

In addition to the practical reasons, this all came at an important point in Mary’s life.  She was engaged … looking forward to beginning a life with her new husband.  She had a lot of plans and dreams for this new chapter about to unfold in her life … the excitement of building a marriage with Joseph, sharing a home, starting a family.  This could all change if she were to agree.

Yes, she had a lot to lose.  Her respectability, her family, her plans and dreams for the future … possibly even her life itself.  And what would it be like to be entrusted to raise the Son of God?  Was she capable of that kind of responsibility?

In the end, Mary, an ordinary girl, made an extraordinary choice.  She said “yes”.  “I am the Lord’s servant.  May it be to me as you have said.”  What Mary realized was that no matter what difficulties she may have to face, whatever plans she would have to forego and whatever responsibilities life would present, God would be there to see her through.  As the angel told her, “nothing is impossible with God”.

Although not many people get as direct an invitation as Mary did, God still asks us to serve.  Serving God doesn’t always have to take place in a church and being a missionary doesn’t mean you have to go to a foreign country.  God needs His people in all walks of life, making a difference every day of the week, in the workplace, in the grocery store, in school and in traffic.  Mary was offered a life choice.  God offers us each a life choice as well.  Mary was given the opportunity to bear God’s child.  We are given the opportunity to bear God’s light.  By the choices we make, the integrity with which we deal with others and the hope which helps us through rough times, our lives will impact others, shining as a beacon in a dark world.

Personal Challenge

Assuming you haven’t been visited by an angel, do feel God’s whisper, nudging you toward any opportunities to serve?

 

What reasons do you have that would lead you to say “no”?  List them all.  Now circle the ones that are more important than God.

 

Challenge for the next two weeks:  as you go about your everyday routine look for opportunities to serve God.  I’m not talking about billboards advertising Christian mission trips.  I’m talking about people in your neighborhood or workplace who need a hand, a kind word or a Christ-like example.

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