Mary and the Angel1
Intro.: I would have liked to bring a really famous person into church today.
Somebody like the President of the US, or the Pope, or the Queen of England
I think two things would have been amazing.
* You would be amazed that that person was here at all
* You would want to here every word that this person spoke.
Today, as we begin our Advent season, we will look at the Mother of Jesus and her response to the news that she would give birth to the Messiah.
Read: Luke 1:26-38
Trans: Over the last few weeks my wife and I have been starting a study of Jesus' life as described in the book of Luke.
The book that Sandra and I have been using is a Bible Study written by fairly well-known author by the name of Beth Moore.
At the same time, I had been praying that God would give some guidance as to what I should preach on during the upcoming Advent season.
And so, over the next few week, I will be sharing some of what I have been learning in my own study, from Beth Moore, and from the Bible Study that my wife and I have shared in the weeks leading up to Advent.
T.S. During the next few minutes I would like to address the question of how does one young girl respond to an angel and to his message?
Responding to Gabriel Luke 1:26-33
Gabriel had first visited earth about six months earlier. He had stopped to see Zechariah. Zechariah would become the father of John, John the Baptist. Zechariah was an elderly priest married to an equally married wife, Elizabeth. Gabriel had the privilege of telling Zechariah and Elizabeth of the birth of their son.
Now, I want you to imagine for just a few minutes that you are a young person of of 13 years of age. I don't know where you are, maybe in your bedroom, maybe out walking. But you are alone.
It has been six months since Gabriel made his last visit. And now he is standing in front of you. It must have been startling, at the very least. It couldn't have been you – after all, you are young, poor, and female. Nothing important ever happens to the young. Nothing important ever happens to the poor. And nothing important ever happens to women in Jewish society.2 And now, Gabriel is here. Now Gabriel is here to see you.
(Appl.) God does not always use what those that He might expect. He will take those who are willing to serve Him. He will take those who are where He needs them to be. In fact scripture tells us even the stones will cry out, if no one else will. But he doesn't choose the elite, he doesn't choose the rich, he doesn't choose a leader. Rather He chose a young, poor, female named Mary to bring the promise made since the beginning of time to fruition.
Though it does not say it explicitly, I expect that Mary was stunned when she heard the angel's words, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
“Whoa!” Scripture was says that Mary was “confused and disturbed” when she heard these words. The Greek word literally means totally agitated.
(Ill.) My first college degree was in Chemistry – but don't ask me anything about chemistry, I have forgotten more than I ever knew. But I remember using a small teflon covered magnetic bar. That bar could be placed into a beaker. The beaker usually contained a liquid and a solid that had to be thoroughly mixed. I would drop the magnet into the solution and set the beaker on a hot plate. Inside the hot plate was a motor that was attached to another magnet which would spin – and the magnetic bar would spin. The effect was to thoroughly agitate the ingredients in the beaker. Mary was thoroughly agitated when she met the angel.
(Appl.) Not an unusual feeling for most of us – there are times when we all might feel that kind of agitation – times when life makes no sense and we stand there wondering what is going on.
The angel has the answer that both Mary and we need. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” That probably gave her a few moments to relax – at least until the Angel finished his sentence:
Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call His name JESUS. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.
Now, I don't know about you, but if I were a 13 year old girl hearing this words, I would be anything but calm. Not only will she be having a baby, but she also knows what to call Him and what He will accomplish.
If it had been me, I would have fainted right there. Right then.
Responding to Gabriel's message Luke 1:34-38
How does a young girl respond to this remarkable message?
Mary was said to be “engaged to Joseph”. But the relationship was legally closer to what we call marriage than it was to engagement.
(Ill.)The engagement was a fairly sophisticated ceremony – The engagement ceremony was arranged by the grooms parents. This would consist of a meeting of the two families and other witnesses. The groom would commit himself to the marriage and present the bride with one or more piece of jewelry. He would thin sip a from a cup of wine. If the bride sipped from the same cup of wine, she was making the same commitment. And at that point the marriage was legally binding. Though they had not been physically intimate, the relationship was legally binding.
Given Mary's surprise, her response is not unexpected: “How can this be?” Now I don't mean to be coarse, but I know how a married young woman has a baby. I expect that Mary knew that much. But she was totally unprepared for the explanation that Gabriel gave her: The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth - even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.”
How does a young girl respond to this remarkable message?
If I had been that girl that day, I don't know if I would have had the faith to respond as she did. “'I am the Lord’s slave,' said Mary. 'May it be done to me according to your word.' Then the angel left her.”
(Appl.) I may not have had the faith that day, but by following her example, I would hope that I might say yes to whatever God would have me do today. I would pray that you might respond similarly to whatever God expects of you.
Conclusion: One more question.
I wonder if Mary saw it all as good news, or whether, as the angel left, she sat there wondering what it all meant.
I wonder if her family and friends would see it as good news? What would her mom say?
I pray that we see it as good news this year.
1Much of this sermon is based on material in Beth Moore's book Jesus:90 Days With The One And Only. B&H Publishing (2007).
2Life Application Bible. Notes. Luke 1:27,28.