Open your Bibles please to Luke 1. We are going to read verses 26-56 today. This is the foretelling of Jesus’ birth to Mary, and her interaction with her cousin Elizabeth, who we discussed last Sunday.
Let’s read the text
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothedfn to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”fn 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name 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 father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”fn
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 bornfn will be called holy—the Son of God. 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.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servantfn of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would befn a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and returned to her home.
So, imagine for a minute, you are Mary. Maybe 13-16 years old. Betrothed to a young man. Ready to begin your new life as a wife, hoping to be a mother someday. Then, out of nowhere you get this news. Gabriel, the same angel who appeared to Zachariah in the temple, appears before Mary, and he makes quite a pronouncement to her. Gabriel appears and says to her Greetings O Favored one. God has found Favor with you, or in a literal translation, “you have found Grace with God. Now, stop right there. if you can forget everything you know about the story and what we just read, do so, and imagine what that might look like for a girl in her situation. What would you hope to hear if an angel appeared to you tonight, and said, Hey buddy, you have found favor with God. What do you expect to hear next? Well, I might like to hear that since I have found favor with God, I am going to get a new iPhone. Or I am going to be a famous preacher, or maybe even since we are talking about miracles, I will become a professional golfer. Think about that for a minute, when you are living life, what does favor from the Lord feel like? Is it ease? Is it success? Well, lets look at what it looked like for Mary, and see what that means for us, and how we might respond to God’s showing grace to us in our day to day lives.
Mary’s favor: so, here is where I want to get a little personal. what are the things in life that most of us focus most of our attention on? Personal comfort, freedom, provision, status, getting our way. I think if we are honest, and I am here to be honest with you. The times when I feel I am getting most things my way are times when I in my flesh assume that what I am experiencing is God’s favor. Also, the times when I am not getting my way, are times when I am more likely to think God has withdrawn His favor. In actuality, my experience in life as a Christian is a constant reception of God’s favor, through blessing, and through discipline. The question for us is not How do you get into God’s favor, it is how are you submitting to God’s current expression of favor in your life? The question really comes down to this, When you look at God’s work in your life, is your Gut response to see His work as a means to magnify you, or to magnify Him?
Let me explain what I mean. This news that Mary receives in many ways jacks her life all up. She now becomes a teenage mom. right off the bat. She is betrothed to Joseph which is a legally binding agreement that can only be broken by divorce. So she almost gets divorced. Probably experienced all kinds of problems because of this whole virgin birth thing. I mean, this doesn’t happen much, does it. What about her plans? What about her preferences, what about her dreams, what about her? You see, when you are focussed on your own glory, you will most always be put out by God’s plan, because His plan is ultimately for His Glory. But if you live your life looking for ways to bring Him glory, when He steps in and changes your plans, you will receive that change with joy, knowing He knows best how to bring himself the most glory. So, how does this go down in Mary’s life?
God’s plan: First thing that We need to see in this text to really get the weight of what is happening here is that this whole story has nothing to do with Mary’s free will. No where in this exchange does God give Mary a choice in the matter. He does not ask her if he can come and alter the course of her live forever. He does not come like Morpheous in the Matrix and hold out two pills for her to take. He sends his angel to take Mary a message. “You have found Grace with God, and He is going to make you pregnant with the Messiah.” Bam! Now, this is something that I see all over scripture that people wrestle with all the time, and I want you to wrestle with it too. I can think of no where in scripture when God comes to someone and asks if they want to be used by Him. I am not saying there is no place, I am just saying that I can think of no place where the instrument of God is given a choice as to if they are going to be used. It always comes as a proclamation. Abraham, David, Joseph, Moses, John the baptist, Paul. Even the disciples were told, come with me, and I will make you fishers of Men. All were brought into the story of God’s redemption without giving them the option. I think sometimes in Christianity, we have this notion that we come to be useful to God on our own terms. Or somehow we have a choice thought our actions or our decisions whether or not we will be used by God. I will tell you, it wasn’t so for the people I mentioned, it wasn’t so for Mary, and it isn’t so for you and I. The question is not will you let God use your life for His Glory? The question is how will you respond like Mary did?
So, lets look for a minute at Mary’s response. Lets look at two verses: 38, and 46.
Verse 36 she says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”
The second response we see is in verse 46, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”
The two words that best articulate Mary’s response to God’s work in her life are these: Submit and Glorify
Submit: To submit to Gods work may be one of the most difficult things you ever “do”. …
Glorify: What I mean by this is that our posture in the midst of whatever God is doing in our lives is to allow Him to look god through it…