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Dec 12 2021 Was Mary God's Favorite? Deconstructing and Reconstructing!

Luke 1:26-28 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 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 ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.

43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

This week we will be looking with Mary’s encounter with the angel. Zacharias, Joseph, and Mary each have encounters with an angel.

Luke 1:28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you."

This is different from the greeting to the others. Favored one – we think of the word, Favorite – we think she is God’s favorite. But that is not what the angel is saying. He is not saying she is the best young woman in Israel. More like, Greetings! Graced one! He is saying – Mary – you are a recipient of God’s grace.

For the advent candles, we have done Hope, Faith, and this week, Grace (even though we are doing the JOY candle – but there really are no rules from the bible about this!)

Mary was devout, humble – but none of those qualities earned her God’s grace. It is UNMERITED favor – we have not worked for it – and neither has Mary. God has chosen to give her His grace.

First – Grace – is a gift. God is giving Mary a gift. When God ‘graces’ us – it a blessing. For Mary – it is a child – the Messiah. For hundreds of years, the nation has been waiting for this! And the angel comes to tell Mary – probably from 13-16 years old – keep that in your mind.

Several years ago - One of the Horstman girls was 13 – and I had her read the story – so people could appreciate the youth of Mary.

Imagine what must be going on in Mary’s mind!

Second – regarding grace – it is a blessing to be a blessing to others. That is the way it is with all of God’s blessings. God promised Abraham that all the nations on the earth will be blessed.

This gift given to Mary is also a gift given to the world.

That is how it is for us.

I am not saying that God gives us gifts ONLY to be given to someone else. He blesses us because He loves us. He gives us things we need. He loves us and wants to give to us.

We have bought gifts for our grandkids – what kind of grandparent would I be if I only gave gifts to my grandchildren for them to give away!

The gift comes with a responsibility.

She is the earthly mother of the Messiah! Think about that! Having to be the mom of the God-Man!

We might have questions – Children are a gift from the Lord, the Bible says. Do children come with any responsibility? Of course!

Around 30 years ago, Cindy’s parents gave our kids a special gift. Our kids were interested in collecting rocks and gems – so they gave our kids a rock polisher. If you have ever polished rocks, there is a lot of responsibility to keep it going. You have to keep it oiled…

Our kids are, as a result, into rocks and gems. And we got it out of the box, and it worked fine – it just needed to be oiled. And now we can give it to our grandkids – but it comes with responsibility.

The blessing that is given to Mary comes with great joy – but it also comes with great grief and suffering.

When Jesus was circumcised and presented at the table – Simeon says to Mary – He will be a blessing to many, and a sword will pierce your heart!

Think of these amazing events – an angel comes to tell her she will be the mother of the Messiah – then Shepherds come and angels sing in the sky and these kings come from the East bearing gifts -and people are telling her these amazing things about her son.

Joan read this – but she has to go off to her aunt’s house like a disgraced pregnant youngster of the 60s…

Imagine the president calling forth the armies to kill your baby…

And then Jesus’ family doesn’t understand how He goes about things and they think he is mad!

And then Jesus is crucified. A sword pierces her heart.

Family should be a source of blessing – but is it a source of difficulty and struggle? OF course.

The good news – when a blessing becomes a source of disappointment – it can also become a source of a new creation or resurrection.

God is trying to do something new through that blessing.

The Bible has two statements that address – there is a discussion about deconstructionism.

Maybe you know what I am talking about.

Just this concept that our lives need to be deconstructed and reconstructed.

When difficulties come in, God is trying to reconstruct our relationship with Him – through those difficulties. Our relationship with Him is built through difficulties. You might think – I have a great relationship with God.

Maybe a better word would be renovation – like an old house – Paul even calls it that.

Dallas Willard – the Renovation of the Heart – what a concept! Most of us have been involved in a renovation project… what is the first step? Tearing out! Demo! You have to pull the old cupboards out and throw them in the trash or give them to someone who doesn’t want them!

God is pulling things out of our lives. There are two ways this happens in the Bible – one negative, one positive.

Genesis 3 – Did God say… God knows if you eat from this tree, you will be wise.

IF you go into the renovation project questioning God’s heart – that is a problem. God can be trusted. God will be faithful – God loves us.

A second statement is made by Jesus…

You have heard it said… (Bible verse) – You shall not murder

BUT, I say to you… (Jesus’ twist) – Anyone who is angry has committed murder in his heart.

Your understanding of God needs to be reconstructed – renovated. And all of us have biblical understandings – viewpoints, and positions that need to be renovated -and we will for the remainder of our lives. We all will. Jesus makes it clear. We must have a deeper and deeper understanding of What God is doing.

29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Perplexed – deeply troubled – confused – caught off guard – disturbed – connected with ‘Do not be afraid’

In talking to the angel, Mary is like, What is going on here?

Why do we sometimes fear God’s presence and His word to us? We think – O, if God were to speak to us, how cool! But sometimes, We – I’m – afraid to hear what God might say to us.

Why?

We think God might be angry or disappointed because we have flaws, we have failed, we have sinned – but the angel says to Mary – you have found favor – grace -not in judgment. God speaks to us to offer grace to us.

Because He is merciful, we can draw near to a throne of grace. We think of a throne of judgment – but in Hebrews, it is called the throne of grace.

The second thing – we can be afraid, because we fear the assignment is something we are unqualified to do.

Moses – don’t send me! Send Aaron.

Jeremiah – “I’m just a kid – send someone else!”

We fear we might disappoint God with the assignment He gives. It is not our job – He is the one responsible – we are just partnering with Him.

Also – third – we might be afraid of the unknown of following God’s call. Mary had no idea where this would lead – and that can be a reality for us, also,

Mary’s question:

34 Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.

Now, Mary’s question sounds the same as Zacharias’ question – but it is not – Zacharias’ question was one of doubt. Mary – has a qualifier – but since I am a virgin, I don’t understand how this can be. Some translations – how WILL this be?

So, do you mean, like, when I get married, I will have a child, or what? It is not clear!

But the angel turns the focus to – no, it is really different – the issue is the Holy Spirit – just like the story of Joseph – the Holy Spirit is doing this. The birth of Jesus is a new creation. Jesus is the new humanity, the Bible tells us. He is the God-Man – God became one of us so we could be filled with God.

Jesus was human – and we are humans filled with God because of what Christ has done for us.

Luke 1:36-38 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God." 38 Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word."

The Birth of John the Baptist was a miracle – they were beyond childbearing age – but it is natural. Jesus’ birth is a miracle, but it is supernatural.

Blessed are you who believed – Her husband had been struck mute for not believing!

Mary received the grace given to her from God. Cindy and I had a conversation with a couple – for some of us it is very difficult to receive grace. Some people like to give, but have a hard time receiving. Maybe it is receiving forgiveness. And at times, we think it is a positive quality – “I don’t want people to give to me” – but receiving is valuable.

Second – Mary accepts her assignment as a servant.

Finally -she says – like the Beatles said - Let it be! She makes herself available. It is more than just a resignation – let it be – but making herself available to the work God is doing in her, though she doesn’t know the ramifications.


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