(12/17) Today we start our new series "Who Is God." It will take us eight weeks and will bring us right up to the Launch date February 10th.
So if you can grab a Bible, go to Luke 1:26 as we will look at Luke’s introduction to his biography of Jesus.
As your turning there, let me remind you that Mary is the most significant, important woman in the history of the world, but her story actually begins with the first woman, Eve. Her story begins in Genesis 3:15 where God had created a wonderful new world… created Adam and Eve in his image and likeness… and entrusted them the stewardship and oversight
of Creation. God allowed them great freedom to enjoy their life, but he forbid them from eating of one tree… the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Sadly, they disobeyed, they sinned against God, and rather than leaving them in death, headed for hell, God came to them in Genesis 3 and he pursued them as he pursues us and he spoke to them as he speaks to us and in Genesis 3:15 we get the first gospel. And so God shows up and he preaches to Satan, He preaches to the serpent who tempted Adam and Eve,
and God says, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." NIV
Here in the very beginning of the Bible God gives the answer to all human sin, rebellion, and foolishness that has separated us from God. He says there will come a Son through the line of this woman, Eve. There will be a battle between this Son and this serpent, Satan, and that He, the Savior, will be wounded and Satan will be defeated. So from that
point forward, God’s people were eagerly anticipating the birth of this Son.
Well history marches on and a prophet of God is raised up, a man named Isaiah. Seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus Christ, he prophesied further revelation about the soon coming of this male child: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Is
He says you will not… should not… and cannot miss this most significant birth because his mother will be a virgin. And the son she has will be named Immanuel, which means, God is with us.
This is the one who will conquer Satan, sin, death, and hell… This is the one who will save us from the wrath of God… This is the one who will be our Savior… be our forgiver… be our deliverer… And so then there is this expectation, this anticipation for the Son to be born through the virgin and that drops us here in Luke chapter 1.
And so let’s just kick it off right here in Luke 1:26…
"26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
35 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. 36 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. 37 For nothing is impossible with God."
38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her." NIV
Now let me tell you what you may not know about Mary. She was probably illiterate, we don’t know for sure, but very few women were formally educated in that day, very few men for that matter as well. And in a faraway town like that she was likely illiterate, unable to read or write. Her connection to God would be remembering Scripture that she had
heard read in synagogue, singing, and praying to God.
You know I love the Catholics, and when it comes to Mary, that’s sort of their specialty. I was raised as a Catholic boy, went to Catholic church, yet all the pictures I saw of Mary growing up weren’t very accurate. They usually looked something like this queen wearing a crown of gold, with embroidered clothing, sitting on a gold throne, holding a baby
wearing a white gown, having yet another gold crown, and usually encircled by a halo, but it wasn’t exactly like that. Our picture of Mary, in large part circulated by Catholic art, is not very accurate.
Almost all of the theologians I’ve read think she was 12, 13, or 14 years of age. Now think peasant girl, drawing water from a well, and collecting firewood... Think of her as being illiterate and having dirty feet and sandals. Think of her sitting on a homemade stool by the fire, not on a gold throne with a crown on her head. Let that sink in for a
It feels different now, doesn’t it? Oh, all of a sudden Mary is no longer wearing a gold crown sitting on a gold throne surrounded by angels. Now she is a junior high girl… now she is planning a wedding… and the angel Gabriel comes to her.
And here’s what he has to say to her in verse 28, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you..." NIV
The angel comes to this girl in a nowhere town and tells her that she has found "favor with God." Gabriel shows up and says, "God has elected you, he’s chosen you, he’s looked over the earth and he’s favored you, Mary. Do you remember hearing in the synagogue that a virgin would give birth to a child? Well, that’s you, Mary."
Do you know what that word "favor" literally means? It’s the word grace… undeserved favor… unmerited love. This word describes the essence of how we’re saved, loved, and embraced by God. Mary was chosen by God to be a recipient of grace. The same is true for all who become Christians; we’re chosen by God to be recipients of grace, God’s favor is upon
us. He’s given us grace, he’s favored us, and we don’t deserve it.
That’s amazing, but that’s what Christianity is all about… God favoring you by grace… taking a bunch of nobodies from nowhere and loving them.
So the angel tells her, "You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus" (Luke 1:31).
Now her response is very important. In verse 34, "Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’" She doesn’t disbelieve, she simply asks questions. Now some of you here might say, "I believe in Jesus, he’s my God, he died for my sins, he rose for my salvation, but I have questions." I’ve met people who have asked, "If I believe in
Jesus but have questions, am I truly a Christian?" The answer is yes. There’s a big difference between unbelief, which says, "I don’t believe the Bible is true, I don’t believe Jesus is God, I don’t believe he died and rose again." You see that’s unbelief.
Questions are like, I believe the Bible is true, I believe Jesus is God, I believe he died, I believe he rose, but I’ve got a lot of questions about how that happened. Listen, God is big enough for your questions. To say I believe it and I’m trying to understand it; that’s just Christianity in human form.
Mary doesn’t demonstrate unbelief, she doesn’t say, "I don’t know if you know this, but I am a virgin." She doesn’t say, "I didn’t make it to college, but one thing I know is that virgins don’t have kids." Notice that she doesn’t argue with God… she doesn’t disagree with God… she’s not like John the Baptist’s father Zechariah… look at verse
18 in your Bible. Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." (Luke 1:18) That’s unbelief!
Here’s Mary’s question, "I believe that can happen, how’s it going to work?" That’s a question. And it’s a fair question.
So the angel answered her in verse 35, "‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you,’" it’s a miracle, "’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." (Luke 1:35-37)
Isn’t that a great line, "For nothing is impossible with God." Do you believe that? God can create everything out of nothing. God can take an elderly woman like Elizabeth and open her womb. God can take a virgin like Mary and give her a son. God can take on human flesh and enter history as a baby boy. God can rise from the grave. God can raise us from
the dead. God can forgive our sins through the cross of Jesus. God can hear and answer prayer. God can take enemies and make them friends. Nothing is impossible Church, nothing is impossible with God, it’s not.
That’s why we’re here, happy, and hopeful… that’s why we sing and pray… because our God is a God of the impossible. God can take nobodies from nowhere and raise up families, churches, and communities. That’s what he does. Nothing is impossible. And this is what the angel says, and he totally knows what he’s talking about.
So in verse 38, Mary said, here’s her response, her legendary, her amazing response, Mary said, "I am the Lord's servant… May it be to me as you have said."
Here’s this simple woman from a simple town with a simple faith, but it’s a sincere and simple faith. She knows very little. She hasn’t been formally educated. She doesn’t have a Bible. But she has bits and pieces of Scripture that she has memorized… that she has treasured in her heart… and what she has is faith. She believes what God says!
So many of us, we have far more information than her and less faith. Sometimes I think, I need to learn more, and maybe I do… but first I need to believe what I’ve already been taught. Mary knows very little, but she believes every bit of it. You see she actually believes God… she takes him at his word... He said it, she believes, and responds, "I’m
the Lord’s servant."
This is amazing. So many of us have our lives charted out for ourselves and we want God to bless it. But if God should happen to rewrite our story, we’re not very happy about it. But as we see with Mary, she had a plan for her life; she knew she was going to marry Joseph, they were going to have a wedding, and they were going to raise a family. She had
a plan, but the angel shows up and says, "Here’s the new script," and Mary says, "Well, whatever the Lord wants… I trust him and I’m his servant."
And so we read that and we may miss the depth of what she is saying. She knows she’s a virgin but she’s willing to be called a tramp. She was willing to submit herself to God and let go of her plans, her comfort, her security, her identity, her reputation, her marriage, and she doesn’t even blink, it’s instantaneous, "I am the Lord's servant… May it be
to me as you have said."
What an incredible example of faith! In the most amazing and exciting time of her life, she’s willing to let go off her reputation, her marriage, her comfort and security so that she could serve God and His Son Jesus. And let me say this to you, every man and woman should aspire to have faith like Mary’s, by the grace of God, to love God, to trust God,
and to serve God like she did, to have the same kind of devotion and affection for Jesus that she did. She’s not the object of our faith, but a wonderful example of faith. And I’ll close with this.
Here’s how we get to enjoy what Mary enjoyed. It’s really exciting... You see God speaks to and reveals himself to Mary, just as he does to us… he tells her about Jesus, as he tells us about Jesus… And he comes to her to birth new life in her, just as he comes to birth new life in us… And it’s not that we have a baby, but we have what Jesus calls "a
new birth," we’re born again. Just as the Holy Spirit did a miracle in Mary, the Holy Spirit comes to do a miracle in us. Just as Mary was incapable of having life, we too are dead in our trespasses and sins, we too are incapable of having life, and the Holy Spirit miraculously imparts the very life of God in us, we’re born again spiritually, we belong to God, our sins are
forgiven, and our new life begins through her son, Jesus Christ. And as she responded with faith, so we respond with faith… believing God and saying, "My life belongs to you, let me be your servant."
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