Dec 4 2022 Advent 2 - Mary
4th December 2022
This morning we are going to look at the Story of Mary
Father, thank You for this morning – as we prepare the second week of Advent, we look forward to Your coming. You came, died, rose from the dead and sit at the right hand of the Father. When You return as King, we will reign with You. Until then, You want us to serve You and to proclaim Your death and resurrection to the world. Amen.
Luke 1:26-29 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.
So, going back to last week – we looked at Isaiah 7 – and the Hebrew word for virgin simply also means young woman – but the context here indicates virgin in the sense that we look at it – and Luke uses the Greek word for virgin like we would use it today.
There is a tremendous amount of theology in this passage that I will not go into.
Luke is demonstrating that Jesus is the Messiah and what that means theologically for us and the world.
For times sake, we will focus on the angel’s message and her response.
28 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
Favored one – endowed with grace – blessed with grace – the focus is on the word grace. Mary is being given a gift – something she does not deserve – a blessing from God.
The Lord is with you – God is with His people in the Old Testament – but it is more than that – He is saying that the Lord is present with her in a unique way so that she may accomplish a purpose or task. God has a task for her – that is what the angel is telling her.
29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
When I read this – I think – she would be greatly troubled at an angel appearing! But it is what he is saying. If an angel appeared to me, I would think, “Yeah!” – but that is not Mary’s response. Why?
Throughout the Old Testament – the angel of the Lord or God Himself appeared to Abraham, Moses, Gideon, Jacob and many more – and each time, there was an assignment for that person. Sometimes it was scary and it was overwhelming.
Mary may have been like – I’ve heard about this – and now it is my turn. Okay – this means that God has something for me – and what wil that be?
I am going to look at some questions and responses to divine visits. For most of us, we will not have divine visits from angel like this. We have something greater already – the Holy Spirit dwells in you! That is much greater! It is not kicking it up a notch if you were visited by an angel!
First question – who am I?
When they ask that question – they are communicating either that they are unworthy or unqualified.
Isaiah – I am a man of unclean lips – I am unworthy of this assignment.
Jeremiah – Who am I? I am a youth – who will listen to me? I’m still a teenager!
Gideon – My family is the least in all of Israel and I am the least in my family! (I am unqualified for your service in this calling).
Mary was probably 13-15 – and the man would likely be 18-20 – starting a career and ready to start a family. Mary was very young for this assignment – and she was also poor.
We tend to allow our limitations to prevent us from receiving God’s grace and favor – to accomplish the assignment He might want us to do.
Mary is healthy with a dose of healthy humility – but we need to be careful to not be stuck in that attitude.
1 – We place too much weight on others’ opinions and allow that to limit what God can do through us. Yes, we must learn from others’ opinions of ourselves – and we should humbly learn from critique – welcome and want it – but don’t get stuck in it! It is a learning process!
2 – Our past experiences tend to shape us and sometimes – in negative ways – affecting what we think about how God wants to use us. We look back on our failures and it affects us moving forward. We think God can’t use us – and we think God has never done that in the past.
3 – We can get stuck in past failures – we can’t allow the past to define us – we need to forget what lays behind. We need to put the past behind us daily – God has new for us every day – His lovingkindnesses are new every morning. His love is infinite – there will be nonstop learning and understanding of God’s love. That should be what our discipleship should be – always learning more about God’s love.
First who am I – second – Am I up to the task? And usually, the answer is no! Moses – I am slow of speech – I am not up to the task – I can’t do it – I have a hard time talking and you want me to be your communicator.
Limited resources – Look at Gideon – he gathered his army – and God said nope – and whittles it down to 300 against tens of thousands. We allow our limited resources to prevent us from God’s calling in our lives.
We think we need to get to a certain level of resource – but before we can get to where God wants us to be – He needs to bring our resources down – so we can be endowed with grace.
Next question – do I WANT this task? I don’t mean in a rebellious way – like Moses – I tried that – it didn’t work! I’m the wrong guy for this job!
Do I want the task that God will give me? I don’t WANT to hear from God right now! There is too much to do! I am too stressed! And for most that God came to in the Old Testament – I’m sure they all had similar things that were overwhelming them.
For some it is fear! What will He tell me to do? I am afraid of what will go wrong. If it is a “God Thing” – things will go wrong! You never hear people say that when things go really wrong!
Also, there might be a cost! All those in the Old Testament – and even Mary – there was a cost. Yes, there is blessing, grace, favor, power – experience of God’s presence – but there is a cost.
Fear – it is not “terrible – you sinner!” – but the angel always says – Do not be afraid! I don’t think he is wagging his finger.
30 And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
The only solution to fear is knowing that God’s grace is with us!
We tell our kids to be brave! God wants to be with us – He is for us – He has favored us, so we don’t have to be afraid. That is the solution – it is not found in us – it is found in God.
Luke 1:31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.
Jesus = Yahweh saves
32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.
We see the divinity of the Messiah
And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
We see He is a human king and a heavenly king!
34 And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"
This is not a lack of faith – it is only a question. No one knew about the virgin birth until this point! It could not be conceived of – at this point!
35 And the angel answered 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 called holy--the Son of God.
This is Creation-language – Genesis 1:2 – The spirit of the Lord was upon the waters – hovering over –
As the Holy Spirit is injected into this story – this becomes a new creation story.
Overshadow – Means to throw some shade! I’m sure that has nothing to do with how it is used today.
There is no man – just the woman and the Holy Spirit.
John 3 – Nicodemus comes to Jesus – Unless you are born again – how can that happen? He is trying to think of this biologically – and Jesus replied – that which is born of the flesh is of flesh – that which is born of the spirit is spirit – and Jesus is giving the identity of what new creation is like. We will be physical beings – but made new by the Holy Spirit as spiritual beings. Jesus is the first-born of creation – a mystery we can’t wrap our heads around.
36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God."
So, Luke’s salvation and redemption story begins with 2 women – and that is very appropriate – because the fall of humanity in Genesis begins with a woman – and the new Creation story of redemption begins with 2 women. It all points to where we are going. The Old Testament points to Jesus – the New Testament points to who we become in Christ.
Nothing will be impossible for God – God’s got this – don’t worry about…
38 And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
Mary’s faithful response. We looked at the questions – and the faithful response – she grasps her true identity - bondservant = slave of God. It is not about Mary – it is about God and what He is doing.
We see characteristics in Mary – humility and availability – Here I am – Let it be.
She can’t understand this – thoroughly or completely – later we are told she ponders and stores up these things in her mind – and then we see her faithfulness.
Mary was only asked to do one thing – be a mom! But in a unique way with a unique baby! All babies are unique, but this one is uniquer! She didn’t have to worry about solving the government problems or kick out the Romans – she just had to be faithful to the task – and in being faithful, she raises the Messiah.
Then we see Mary’s resources – let it be done according to Your word. What Mary needed? The promise of God. That is what mattered. She was graced. Favored. Endowed – blessed with grace.
What Mary is doing – this is - I think Mary is the first disciple of Jesus. She is exhibiting every characteristic of a follower of Christ – faithfulness – humility – following His word. Mary is our example of how to follow Jesus.
Thank You, Lord, that You have assignments for us – regardless of our age or resources – You have assignments you will fulfill with Your resources through Your Holy Spirit – keeping Your promise to Your word. In Your Name we pray.