26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by 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. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then 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 bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
The customary age to be engaged among Mary’s people was around thirteen & fourteen, so most likely she was a young girl when parents arranged her engagement to Joseph. Its even customary to arrange such marriage while they are still babies. The angel Gabriel visited her and announced that she would bear the Savior of the world.
Jewish society treated unmarried pregnant women with shame and scorn, and yet Mary remained strong in her faith. Expecting the worst from Joseph, her family, friends, society, she gratefully accepted God’s will for her life.
Mary was an ordinary woman with extraordinary godly character that gave her an uncommon faith. Completely trusting in God…in every way Mary was a good and faithful servant.
The angel shared good news with Mary. He said she was highly favored, that God had chosen her to be part of His wonderful plans. The angel said that the Lord was with her. Now, this is important. Mary most certainly needed to know that the Lord was with her. She needed to know that what was going to happen was part of God’s plans.
Which is why Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid. Because Mary’s life was about to be turned upside-down forever. And that’s never an easy thing to handle.
Generally, change is hard. Positive changes we generally welcome. A better job, a new relationship, an improvement of some kind in our lives. But even then, a change comes with certain difficulties. Getting used to the new thing takes time. Getting married for example is wonderful, but then you have to accept the fact that you are no longer one, but two. Your daily routines will change. Some things good, and some…not so good. But, It’s a welcome change, and it’s still a change that takes some getting-used-to.
Now, picture Mary’s changes. She was engaged to a good man, Joseph. They were going to be married. Remember that back then, an engagement was practically as binding as a marriage. To end an engagement was the same as divorce.
Let’s look at what Mary was about face, and how her life was about to change forever. An angel showed up and told her she was going to have a baby. That would be stunning enough. Let’s pause there for a moment. Even if girls got married as teenagers back then, and it was expected, you tell her she’s pregnant out of wedlock, too. Nowadays, it’s become accepted. Back then it was disgraceful and considered sinful.
Mary was entering a whole new world by becoming pregnant. That was a change that she seemed to embrace well… why? Keep in mind, the angel told her that, “the Lord is with you” and that the angel told her not to be afraid. She was reminded that she is not alone through all of this.
As if that weren’t enough… As if hearing the news that you were going to have a baby isn’t life-changing enough. Throw in the fact that it was impossible for her. She was a virgin. She had never been with a man. And throw in the fact that she would be having a baby out of wedlock.
On top of it all, we must not forget the main point of the story… the shock of being pregnant with the Son of God. That’s what this is all about. This was no ordinary baby, this is the Savior of the world! You see, Mary’s plans weren’t being changed just for the sake of change. Mary’s plans were being changed because it was for the greater good. It was for everybody’s good. Even if the changes were not going to be 100% pleasant, they were still certainly good.
I think at times, that describes God’s plans. They may not always feel good or safe. At times we may not understand why God is allowing certain things to happen in our lives, but still the outcome is good, and it’s all in accordance to His plans. Mary and Joseph, had to face hard and challenging times, because of this pregnancy. But they still went through it. The Apostles, and the disciples after them went through a dangerous life. Many believers over the years have lost their lives because they were willing to follow their faith. Look… if you think that following God’s plans will always lead you to green pastures and beside still waters, you’re in for a shock. Read your Bible and you’ll know what I mean.
We may go through the storms, and times even go through the shadow of death, but Gods plans are always good. God’s plans for Mary’s life were good. She was favored. The Lord was with her. She had found favor with God. God chose her for this special task that will change the course of history forever. You can see the excitement in Mary’s voice as she sang her song in…
Luke 1:46-55 The Song Of Mary
46 And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.48 For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; For behold, henceforth 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 on those who fear Him, From generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones, And exalted the lowly.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 seed forever.”
She was excited to be part of God’s plans. She took the angel’s words to heart when he said, “The Lord is with you…Don’t be afraid.” As excited as Mary was, I wonder if she knew what was in stored for her baby. Keep in mind that Mary was well versed in scripture, she knew about the prophesies of the coming Messiah. She knew what was in stored for the life of her Baby. She just didn’t know when, or how soon.
You see, there were almost as many prophecies about a suffering Messiah as there were about a kingly Messiah. The people were excited about the Messiah coming to rule, but they didn’t piece it together that the Messiah would also go through sufferings, torment, and death.
Psalms 22 can show us so much of the life of the Messiah…
My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Why are You so far from helping Me, And from the words of My groaning?
All those who see Me ridicule Me; They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the Lord, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
For dogs have surrounded Me; The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; 17 I can count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. 18 They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.
Mary knew all of these things. Mary knew what her Baby (Jesus) was going to go through. These Psalms give a good picture of Jesus’ suffering.
Wait…there’s more prophesies about the Messiah, that Mary knew…
Here’s the betrayal of Judas…
12 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So, they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the Lord of hosts. “Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
Isaiah also has a lot of prophesy about the Messiah, and Mary knew each and every one. She had to go through all of these. Could you imagine, each and every time that she looks at her Baby… she knows what is to come in His life,
I gave My back to those who struck Me, And My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard;
I did not hide My face from shame and spitting.
Just as there were many who were appalled at Him, His appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being and His form marred beyond human likeness.
But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed. 6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on Him, the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away. Yet who of His generation protested?
For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was punished. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death,
though He had done no violence, nor was any deceit in His mouth. 10 Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer, and though the Lord makes His life an offering for sin,
He will see His offspring and prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in His hand.
You see, this is the sword that would pierce Mary’s heart. (Luke 2:35) Her firstborn would suffer this fate, and she would see it. Is this safe? Is this pleasant? No, of course not. But this was Gods plans.
Is it good that these things happened? Yes, most definitely! It was good for us that Jesus had to suffer, because it is through His suffering that we find forgiveness. The angel told Mary not to fear God’s plans for her life. “Don’t be afraid of how God will do His will in your life,” Gabriel told her. Perhaps he would say the same thing to us. Don’t be afraid of what God wants to do in your life. Don’t be afraid of how His plans are changing yours.
Let me read to you a short letter from a devotional that I read about a woman of extraordinary courage…
Lisa Beamer, whose husband died as a hero on Sept.11, 2001, reflects on the loss of her dad. She says, “Slowly, I began to understand that the plans God has for us don’t just include “good things”, but the whole array of human events. The “prospering” he talks about in the book of Jeremiah is often the outcome of a bad event. I remember my mom saying that many people look for miracles – things that in their human minds “fix” the situation. Many miracles, however, are not a change to the normal course of human events; they’re found in God’s ability and desire to sustain and nurture people through even the worst situations. Somewhere along the way, I stopped demanding that God fix the problems in my life and started to be thankful for his presence as I endured them.”
So, what of your plans does God seem to be changing? What is not turning out the way you wanted? What is God leading you to do, that you just don’t want to do? What is happening that you don’t know if you have the courage to handle?
Let Mary’s story remind you… don’t be afraid. Things may not turn out the way you expected or wanted, but if you let God do what He does best, things will turn out good. It may not seem safe, maybe not easy, but if its in Gods plans, then its good. His plans for your life and mine are already planned, but that doesn’t exclude painful journeys along the way.
What would have happened had Mary not believed Gabriel’s words? Would she have disqualified herself from being the mother of Jesus? The fact is she did believe, she did obey, she did trust in what she heard and God did fulfill His words in her.
We can trust God even in the most difficult of circumstances because no problem is too tough for Him to handle and no challenge is beyond His power to overcome. God has the ability to do what He says He will do!
Let me close with a part of Mary’s song that you and I can hold on to…
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
50 And His mercy is on those who fear Him, From generation to generation.
So… what fear do you need to surrender to Him today? Fear of a new job or new home? Fear of the future and all that it holds? Fear of loneliness, fear of failure? What changes are you afraid of? I encourage you to spend some time talking to God about them in particular, and ask Him for strength to do the right thing anyway.
That same God that took hold of Mary’s life, is ready to use us as we magnify His love, His forgiveness, His grace, His mercy in our lives. God wants to use each of us as part of his work, and Christmas is a wonderful time for it. Carols are playing everywhere, and if you listen to the words, many point to the birth of a Savior, God in a manger, Immanuel, the God who left heaven to come and live among us, to save us from our sins.
Again…let me remind you, Christmas is not about parties, & gifts. Its all about the greatest Gift, and that is Jesus!
Pastor Richard Santos
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