Christmas Stories: Christmas Sermon Series
God’s Plan For Mary (vv. 26-33)
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. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”3 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.”
The sixth month refers to Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, not the sixth month of the year. God’s plan for Elizabeth, Zachariah, and John the Baptist have already been in place for six months. God had already began the process of birthing the one who would run ahead of Jesus in the desert.
Gabriel was sent to a virgin named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph. Their marriage process was slightly different than our own today. A father would seek to find a wife for his son. Once a girl was found the son’s approval was sought and then a dowry was paid to the father of the bride since he was losing a daughter and a valuable helper.
A written agreement was drawn up and the couple were considered to be married; but there was no sexual contact during this “engagement” time. The engagement could not be broken except in instances of adultery. But if this were the case then there would be great shame on the part of the offender.
Time would pass and there would be a religious ceremony and then the couple would consummate the marriage. It was between the engagement and the ceremony that Gabriel appears before Mary.
“Greetings, O favored one,” – Luke is careful to let us know that this favor is not because Mary had any kind of special holiness in her life. There was nothing about her life that would have earned this type of privileged responsibility. God in His grace and mercy just chose her.
God in his grace and mercy has a very special plan for each of our lives as well. God desires to use us to do great things for His name. Mary is an example to us of a person who was called by God to do something wonderful and she did it faithfully. Let’s look to see how Mary sought to carry out her calling.
She Knew God Was With Her
“the Lord is with you!” – This is not a wish that God would be with her, but a statement of fact – The Lord is with you. kurios meaning supreme in authority, the controller. The God who was with her was supreme, He was in control, He who has all authority would be with her. Not just in the beginning – but all the way through.
She would need to know that the Lord is with when she was to approach Joseph and tell him that she is pregnant. She would need to know that God is with her when she would have to travel from Nazareth to Jerusalem while she would be “great with child.” She would need to know that God is with her when she has to deliver this child in a filthy stable.
She would need to know the Lord was with her when she learns that Herod desired to kill her child – and as she escaped to Egypt. She would have to know that the Lord was with her when the child would become a man – she would watch as he would lay down his tool belt and leave for a public ministry. She would have to let him go.
She would have to know that the Lord was with her as she watched as he would be rejected, spit upon, cursed, ripped to pieces by a Roman cat-of-nine-tails. Mary would have clung to these precious words “the Lord is with you!” as she watched her precious Son hang on an old rugged cross for the sins of the world.
As she heard him cry out, “IT IS FINISHED!” and sink into death. She would have to know that the Lord was with her as she looked into the face of her dead son, beaten beyond recognition, wiping his face and body of blood, wrapping his body in cloth and lying his limp body into a tomb. She would need these words from Gabriel.
Notice that Mary is not afraid at Gabriel’s presence, but it his words that cause her to be afraid. These words should cause us to cry out in joy “The Lord is with you!” These words should also drive us to our knees in prayer because if God has called us to accomplish great things for Him, things that can be accomplished only by “The Lord being with us” – then there will be great heartache and circumstances that require us to call out to Him and to cling to His Word.
Matthew 1:22-23 “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.”
Not only would The Lord be with Mary but “God is with us.” Just as Mary would have clung to the words “The Lord is with you,” We can rejoice that God is with us. The Son of the Most High Stepped out of heaven and would come to be among us – to be with us.
John 1:1, 14 “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, . . .”
She Knew God Called Her To Do Something Great
Gabriel gives several things that describe the son she was to name Jesus. “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” Whereas John would be known as a great man, the difference between John and Jesus is that His greatness would be related to His being the Son of God. Jesus was God in the flesh, who came from heaven to dwell with us.
This child that she would give birth to, would be a king; But he would be different than Saul, David, Solomon, or any other earthly king – “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,” Not only would he be a king, but His reign will be for all of eternity.
Responses To Christ
Matthew 27:27-31 “Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him.”
Revelation 19:11-16 “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.”
Here are the two responses that people would have to the Son of God. One of mockery, and falsely following the King; or one of standing in awe and reverent fear of the Son of God.
The shepherds ran and told their town about what they had seen and heard, they later returned to worship and praise the Christ child. The Magi from the west came over long distances and brought gifts fit for a king. What is your response to Christ; a mocking bow or reverential following?
God’s Plan For Mary Was Impossible – for her (vv. 34-38)
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 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. 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 servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”
Where Zechariah in the previous verses had wanted more proof from Gabriel that his message was going to come true, Mary asks about how this would come about (since she was a virgin.)
She is seeking to know more about God’s plan because she did not understand. The only explanation she gets is “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” God will make it so. There are several things in the Bible that we cannot fully understand or explain.
We do not know how God created the world – only that he did. We have, for example, God the Father sending and angel, The Holy Spirit directing the pregnancy, and the Son Jesus being brought into the world – the Trinity is something difficult to grasp but none the less true.
This Jesus would be fully God and fully man at the same time. How do these things happen? God. Not a blind faith, but a faith upon the evidence revealed to us and taking Him at His Word. “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
She recognizes that she is a servant of the Lord, and He has the right to do with her anything He desires. But she is a servant of one where nothing is impossible. A servant follows her master.
Your life may not where you thought it would end up, give it to God “For nothing is impossible with God.” No matter how damaged the marriage, no matter how wayward the child, no matter how little in the checking account, “For nothing is impossible with God.” no matter how strong the urge, no matter whether you see how it will work out or not “For nothing is impossible with God”
If God can make a virgin girl become pregnant, if He came shape time and space to orchestrate a star for shepherds and Magi to see and move it at will, if God can fulfill hundreds of prophecy regarding Jesus’ birth and life, if he can give Zechariah and Elizabeth a child in their old age, than he can surely handle anything you desire to lay at his feet.
There will be a time in your life when God will desire to use you to be a part of something amazing, beyond anything you ever could have imagined – and He may just say, “follow me into the impossible.” Our response must be like Mary’s; “Lord, I don’t know how you are going to do this, but here I am. . . “let it be to me according to your word.” God is the God of the impossible.
Mary Raced To See Elizabeth (vv. 39-45)
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 be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Immediately after discovering God’s plan for her life, she got ready and went to celebrate with Elizabeth and her miraculous pregnancy. The angel had told Mary that God had allowed Elizabeth to have a child. So she goes to see it for herself. One impossibility coming together with another impossibility.
How is it that we have been so blessed by God in so many ways? Hebrews 10:25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” God is always working impossibilities in the lives of those who say, “let it be to me according to your word.” God desires that we meet together to share these things and encourage each other.
Elizabeth says, “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Whereas before they would have met and talked about the mundane things of life, even seeing their relationship as casual.
But now she feels honored, “favored” that Mary would come by. Oh, how their conversations would change – what would the two ladies who had experienced the impossible say to each other? Let us meet and discuss the things of God regularly.
The fact that God would gives us an opportunity to receive Christ and how God made the impossible possible is the wonder of Christmas. In order for God to work in your life; realize that He is with you. He has directed you here this morning – because for His love and desire to do great things through you.
Secondly, realize that it is impossible for you to go to heaven or do great things – without God. That is why Jesus was born into the world, to save us from our sins. What is impossible for us, is possible for an almighty God.
This morning if you would like to ask Christ to come into your life and forgive you of your sins, you can say a prayer something like this:
Dear Jesus I know that I am a sinner and need Your forgiveness. I believe that you died for my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I now invite you to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as Lord and Savior. Amen.