We started the conversation the angel Gabriel had with Mary last week. Lord willing, this morning we will finish the conversation they had with one another. To put this morning's part of the discussion in context to the overall discussion, I need to highlight last week's key points regarding the introduction into their conversation.
The Angel Gabriel came into Mary’s presence and introduced the conversation with three key points. First, Gabriel used the word “Hail” as a greeting word that had much more meaning than a typical greeting. The word "Hail" spoke of the message he had for Mary. Externally, nothing was going right in Mary's life that was cause for a cheerful greeting. She lived in an obscure, poor and corrupt town called Nazareth. The religious system she lived under was broken and man-centered, not God-centered. In fact, the only positive feature of her life was her engagement to a Godly man named Joseph. However, the message the angel Gabriel had for her could potentially change this relationship and any future relationship she hoped to have. Thus, the reason Gabriel opened up this conversation with "Hail" to a young lady who had very little to be joyful about, in her present situation, was the news he had would forever change her life and the narrative of redemption.
A second point from last week’s message was Gabriel announcing how “highly favoured” she was for the task ahead of her. She was not “highly favoured” because of her immaculate conception that allowed her to be without original sin. Last week we saw as great a saint as Mary was, she was still a sinner in need of a redeemer. Instead, she was “highly favoured" in God providing her with the grace to accomplish the wonderful task of being the mother of Jesus our Savior. Mary was “highly favoured” within the framework of her being the vessel God chose to bring forth Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The last point from last week's message was that she would be "blessed among women." We get our word “eulogy” from the word “blessed.” Throughout the last two thousand years, people have spoken well of Mary. Yet, the reason she is spoken well of goes much deeper than her birthing Jesus as a virgin. In fact, we will discover this morning why God chose her to be this wonderful vessel mete for the Master's use.
The flow of this morning's part of the conversation between Gabriel and Mary goes from Mary to Jesus, followed by the Holy Spirit, and closing with Mary. My prayer this morning is for God to help us to see the reason He chose Mary was not by coincidence, chance or accident. She was not the right person in the right place; she was the right person at the right time. God still uses people to do supernatural feats. God does not use people randomly or accidentally. If we want God to use us, then we must be prepared our lives to be vessels for God’s timing. A good foundation for preparation is our self-worth.
Mary's Self-worth v28-30
This is anecdotal, but I noticed this past New Year’s Eve celebration that some of the people I spoke with and TV personalities I saw, resolution for the coming year was to love themselves more; to take more care of themselves or live life for them. This sort of resolution would fly in the face of Mary’s appraisal of her self-worth.
Before diving into this point, I want to put context to this point. God values and loves us! He placed the highest possible premium on our souls. In demonstrating His love for us, He gave us His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Never for one minute think this giving Jesus Christ was easy for God. How hard was giving us His Son? In Jesus’ most crucial moment of life, God the Father forsook Him because our sins were laid on Him (1 Peter 2:24), and God the Father hates sin (Psalms 5:4)! God loves the sinner!
Another context point to make before moving on is Jesus tells us that the two great commandments, on which all the other commandments hang, are to love the Lord with everything we have and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Mark 12:30–31 “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandments greater than these." In the sense of loving others, there must be a degree of self-love. The purpose of self-love is not for self-needs but to love others as much as we love ourselves.
With context to Mary’s appraisal of her self-worth, let us discover Mary’s self-worth and why this is important to Mary’s overall narrative.
There are similarities between Zacharias and Mary: they were both saved, faithfully served the Lord, and focused on pleasing God before men. The similarities stop there because they dealt with the Lord's message through Gabriel in entirely different ways.
Zacharias was troubled at the appearance of Gabriel and was skeptical of his message. Mary was not troubled at Gabriel’s appearance but was troubled with the message; not because of her skepticism but in her belief in the truthfulness of the message. If they were both saved, faithfully serving the Lord and pleased God, why did they have different responses to divine messages from God?
Zacharias and his wife had prayed and prayed for a child. Possibly prayed decades for a child. Now they were old and well beyond the childbearing years. Gabriel came to tell them God heard their prayers and was ready to answer. Why would not Zacharias believe the good news that their prayers had been heard and answered? Either Zacharias had quit praying some time ago or continued praying, without believing God would answer his prayer. The delay in answering prayer caused Zacharias to be jaded with the process. Not only this, James said a man who prays without believing God answering the prayer is "a double-minded man (who) is unstable in all his ways." He and his wife prayed for a child but thought God was too late in answering their prayer. God is never too late; His timing is flawless. His skepticism to the wonderful message of his wife conceiving and bringing forth a son was anchored in his years of seemingly futile praying. Brothers and sisters, becoming discouraged with the lack of answered prayer or believing our prayer life is futile and sends on a downward slope of having an entitlement mentality. “Entitlement is the belief that we inherently deserve privileges or special treatments, or that we have the right to something…I deserve to have children, so why am I struggling with infertility? After all, aren’t children a blessing from God.” The sense of entitlement comes from pride, not humbleness. Losing sight of humbles will cause us to be jaded with any divine process, especially prayer.
On the other hand, Mary “was troubled at his saying” (v. 29). The word “troubled” means to be greatly perplexed. She experienced a degree of agitation with the message. Not because God could not do what He said He would do but because she was unworthy to be the mother of Jesus! The phrase “Cast in her mind” means she put great thought to what was happening. In short, you could say that Mary was upset and puzzled. Why was she upset and puzzled?
In Matthew 1, After Mary had told Joseph the news that she was pregnant with the Messiah, while being a virgin, Joseph went through a range of emotions. His initial response was to divorce her privately. However, as he thought on these things his feelings changed. His feelings and heart changed from divorcing her to keeping the marriage commitment. We catch a glimpse of the change of heart in a dream he received from the Lord. In which, the angel of the Lord said to Joseph “Fear not to take unto thee Mary to be thy wife” (Matthew 1:20). The angel of the Lord said: "Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:20). Joseph's fear was that Mary could be telling the truth. The angel's message was not rebuking Joseph for not believing the truth, but affirming the truth to remove his fears.
In the same way, we understand why Mary was upset and puzzled at the message of Gabriel by the reason he said unto her: "fear not" (v.30). Gabriel said, "Fear not…for thou hast found favour with God" (v. 30). Many Jewish girls hoped to be the mother of the long-awaited Messiah. However, with Mary, this thought never occurred to her. She never believed she was worthy enough to be the mother of the Messiah. Even though she did not know the full message Gabriel had for her, she was upset and puzzled because regardless of the message, she was unworthy of being highly favoured, have the Lord with her, and be blessed among women. Mary's appraisal of her self-worth was the reason Gabriel comforted her with the words "for thou hast found favour with God" (v.30). In other words, "your worthiness is you found favour with God.” The word “favoured” is the same word translated many times over “grace.” Somewhere along the way in her young life, she found the much-needed grace in God. She viewed God as a grace giver! I can see why Mary believed she was unworthy; she needed grace to be right with God. Praise the Lord that God saves by grace. Grace is the reason you are worthy.
Jesus the Sovereign v.31-33
The next portion of the conversation between Gabriel and Mary involved who her son, Jesus Christ, would become. Gabriel said: “And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (V.31-33).
An interesting observation is the difference in how the Lord revealed Jesus to Joseph from Mary. The message to Joseph’s focused on Jesus saving His people from their sins – the suffering Lamb. The Angel said unto Joseph in a dream: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The theme of Jesus ministry is saving His people from their sins.
On the other hand, the theme of Jesus ministry giving to Mary by Gabriel was Jesus as King that will reign forever. Gabriel said to Mary “behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (V.31-33).
Even though Gabriel mentions His name as Jesus, which means Jehovah is salvation, the emphasis of his message connects with Jesus millennial reign.
He is the Son of the Highest. We are sons and daughters of God based upon our relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Son of God based upon His position in the Godhead. We need Jesus to have a relationship with God. Jesus existence demands He has a relationship with the Father. Jesus being "called the Son of the Highest" is future in verb tense. Today, most of the world does not view Jesus as the Son of the Highest. They reject His greatness and Deity. However, in God's perfect timing, there is coming a day when every person will recognize Jesus as the Son of the Highest. This is a promise God made to Mary, in the very beginning. As the Son of the Most High, Jesus will one day rule Israel. There is coming a day when He will sit on David’s throne and will rule forever.
There is not stopping the eventual rule of Jesus on planet earth. No matter how much devilish energy works through men, Jesus will triumph. No one can prevent Jesus from ruling. His ruling is inevitable. I am so thankful one day we will have a King who is righteous and free from any corruption. Over the last six thousand years of human history, the truth of power corrupting people is self-evident. When Jesus comes, He will have all-power, without any corruption. His second coming is inevitable because He has the power to decree and ensures the fulfillment of His decrees.
“Today, Jesus is enthroned in heaven (Acts 2:29-36), but it is not in David’s throne. One day Jesus will return and establish His righteous Kingdom on earth, and then these promises (He made to the Jews) will be fulfilled.”
Holy Spirit the Supernatural v.34-37
Within Gabriel’s message to Mary, he unfolded the Trinity working in unison. In verse thirty-two, he mentioned the Son of the Highest and the Lord God (speaking of the Father) giving the Son of the Highest the throne of David. Now, in verse thirty-six, Gabriel speaks of the Holy Ghost. There is so much division in our world. Everywhere we look, there is divisiveness. Even in politics, there is divineness within parties. The divineness explains Senator Sanders and President Trump’s success. Rarely are we in a position where there is one hundred percent agreement, without any reservation whatsoever. Last night, I was watching "Presidents at War." The show spoke of the various U. S. Presidents who served during World War 2. There was a segment of General Eisenhower struggling to get Winston Churchill approval on using the Air Force as preparation for D-Day, instead of bombing raids on Berlin. The tension became so great that General Eisenhower threatened to resign if the Air Force was not diverted for D-Day Preparations. Eventually, Churchill gave in, but even in war, there is rarely a unified strategy with friends and allies. However, when we are discussing the Trinity, the Godhead is always in unity. There is no disagreement or reservation within the Godhead. Everything they do is in complete harmony and unity within the Godhead. Knowing there was unity within the Godhead on our redemption is nice to know. However, to take the unity one step further, knowing that all three worked in concert with one another to bring about our redemption is better.
Gabriel brought up the Holy Spirit in conjunction with Mary’s question. “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” (v.32). Unlike Zacharias, Mary did not ask for a sign. She was not questioning what Gabriel announcement that as a virgin she will bring forth the Son of the Highest. Her faith in God’s ability to do in the impossible was not shaken by Gabriel’s message. So, she did not need a sign to validate the message, as Zacharias did. Instead, she wanted to know how a virgin can be pregnant without the contributions of a man.
Gabriel's response to her question was as humanely improbable as the Virgin Mary becoming. Gabriel said, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible” (v.35-37).
Notice how Gabriel answered Mary’s question. The Holy Spirit will plant the seed of the Son of God in your womb. Then Gabriel goes to Elizabeth. O the surface Gabriel bringing up Elizabeth seems a bit odd and out of place. What does her pregnancy have to with Mary's situation and the Holy Spirit? Some argue the reason Gabriel brought Elizabeth up was to encourage her, but this does not seem to fit the flow of why he brought up Elizabeth. The flow of bringing up Elizabeth was the work of the Holy Spirit, and nothing is impossible for God. Gabriel used Elizabeth as an example to show Mary that God can do anything He wants to. He is not bound by the same rules and laws we are. Whether God is opening a closed womb or putting the seed of the Son of God in the womb of a virgin, nothing is too hard for God. God has the power to do anything He wants. Praise the Lord!
Mary the Servant v.38
Lastly, this morning, let us see Mary, the servant. After Gabriel finished talking, Mary spoke up. What Mary said speaks to the kind of person she was in grace. I think we can all agree that Gabriel gave her much information. Many of us would need time to absorb everything that was said; not Mary. "Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word” (v.38).
She viewed herself as a handmaid to the Lord only. “A ‘handmaid’ was the lowest kind of female servant, which shows how much Mary trusted in God. She belonged totally to the Lord, body (Luke 1:38), soul (Luke 1:46), and spirit (Luke 1:47). What an example for us to follow (Romans 12:1-2)!”
Chelsea Sobolik, “Entitlement Will Rob You of Rest,” Desiring God, September 12, 2017, https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/entitlement-will-rob-you-of-rest.
Efraim Goldstein, “The Promised Child,” Jews for Jesus, accessed February 25, 2019, https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/issues-v09-n01/the-promised-child/.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, vol. 1, Matthew-Galatians(Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1989), 172.
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary: New Testament, vol. 1, Matthew-Galatians(Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1989), 173.