Gabriel Visits MarySeries: The Visitation. James Dewhurst December 6, 2020
Gabriel Visits Mary
Last week, we dug into the first angelic visitation in nearly 600 years, as the archangel Gabriel personally visited Zechariah and Elizabeth in their old age, and announced that they would soon give birth to a son, John the Baptist, who would serve as a forerunner to prepare the way for Jesus. But Gabriel wasn’t finished. He had a second visit he needed to make that was arguably even more surprising than the first:
26 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!” 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?” 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. (ESV)
Let’s be honest, this entire story is impossible! Every detail of the entire Christmas story is impossible! Postmenopausal females like Elizabeth don’t all of the sudden have babies, and virgin teenagers don’t end up pregnant and have babies either! Wealthy Wise men don’t follow stars to mangers, Angels don’t invite shepherds to come see baby kings, and kings also aren’t born in barns. In the real world, you know the one that you and kind of live in, none of this happens! But that’s exactly why people build manger scenes every single year and fill churches all over the world to read this same story, isn’t it? Because it’s impossible! I mean, nobody else builds life sized hospital baby scenes in their front yards for their own child births do they? The reason people don’t have their own manger scenes all over the place is because their stories are possible. 11,000 babies are born every day in America and we don’t think a thing about it. But this baby is different because His story is impossible!
Gabriel knew it was impossible, and that’s why he told 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚢 in:
37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” (ESV)
26 But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (ESV)
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)
The son of God’s impossible story was created to redeem our impossible story!
The Angel Gabriel, who had visited Mary’s aunt Elizabeth 6 months earlier, had now shown up in the poor and overlooked town of Nazareth to select God’s human mother. Mary was believed to be somewhere between 14-16 years old at the time, which was a common age for women to get engaged in biblical times. And God’s super angel shows up to a common girl in a nobody town to salute her and announce that her womb had been drafted by God to carry his son. God’s chief messenger angel only ever appeared to very important people in the Bible! The first words that Gabriel spoke to Mary were, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” These heaven sent words, that instantly troubled Mary meant that God’s grace was upon her, and that she was being divinely blessed by God. Gabriel instructed her not to be afraid, because she would be carried and covered by the Holy Spirit. Although her aunt Elizabeth had kept her divine pregnancy with John a secret for 6 months, Gabriel spilled the beans. And the overwhelmed and emotion-filled teenage mother hurried off to spend several months with Elizabeth before returning back to Nazareth to tell Joseph about Gabriel and Jesus!
She wanted to make sure Elizabeth’s story checked out before dropping the news Mary had some emotions and some questions! There is nothing wrong with asking questions. What I have always loved so much about teenagers is that they always have questions. They are still flexible and want to learn and know. The biggest problem with adults is they usually already have their own conclusions. Teenagers have a lot questions, while adults have a lot of opinions (Trust me, I’ve heard a whole lot of them!) Mary asked two questions to him, “How will this happen?” and “Why am I so favored?” But the most incredible part of the entire story is what Mary said in response to Gabriel in verse 38, “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” She just simply accepted her assignment!
Everything with God is a partnership. Mary had to be a willing partner!
God can handle our Emotions and Questions, he just doesn’t want our Opinions and Excuses!
Someone said – “Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.”
Anonymous – “There is only one thing required to change your life: Willingness.”
Jim Rohn – “Until you are willing to risk the ordinary, you will have to settle for the usual.”
Mary’s response in the New Testament mirrors almost exactly Isaiah’s in the Old:
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” (ESV)
This story is all about Mary’s response – I’ll Do It!
On March 25th, every year, exactly 9 months before Jesus’ birthday, the Catholic Church celebrates The Feast of Annunciation. This Feast has been practiced since the 5th century within the church and celebrates two things:
God’s willingness to enter the world as Jesus, in order to save humanity.
Mary’s willingness to freely accept the task of being the Mother of God.
Catholic leaders and spiritual writers have been accused for hundreds of years of putting Mary on a pedestal. But God put Mary on a pedestal! Gabriel told Mary that she was highly favored, and that God was going to become a man through her. Mary was set apart from the foundations of the earth to be the instrument of the Incarnation.
There is no bigger pedestal than this, and God put her on it! The mistake is not in celebrating her divine platform. The mistake is not recognizing that God has one for us too. Mary is not a shrine to be worshipped, she is an example for us to emulate! She exemplifies what the church and every member of it is meant to be. Mary is the ultimate product of the redemptive power of God. The marvel of Mary is that even in the midst of her ordinary and humble existence, she was willing to take the hand of divine grace and trust that God could use her. Mary became the space through which God could act!
700 years before in:
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (ESV)
We’ve been reading this story for thousands of years because Mary held heavens hand!
God, it’s bigger than me… I am completely overwhelmed… It’s not going to be easy… I have no idea how to raise God… I haven’t even had health class yet!!!
Mary’s story is a wake up call! (Heaven is shouting for us to wake up and step up!)
Are we partnering with God’s grace to do something impossible or are we just existing?
1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 4 By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks. 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (ESV)
I want to close with two incredible lessons we can learn from Mary’s story today:
1. Be prepared to be used by God!
Mary was living in a town of 400 people when Gabriel tapped her for service. I’m sure she thought she was the last person God would ever use. There is no one who is insignificant in the purposes of God!
1 Corinthians 1:27 “But God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
2. Be willing to put your trust in God!
When Gabriel appeared to Mary, the Bible says in Luke 1:28 that she was “greatly troubled”, which means disturbed, agitated, perplexed and confused. Yet in spite of her feelings, she willingly gave her consent!
Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
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