Phil Cox


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Mary and Gabriel, Part 2

27th December 2014

Last week, we started to look at the time Gabriel visited Mary to tell her she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. We reached the point where Gabriel says:

Luke 1v31-33
You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end."

Gabriel tells Mary what's going to happen to her. She will have a son and she must name Him "Jesus" which means "The Lord saves".

Gabriel says Jesus will be great. That's something of an understatement, but perhaps it was enough for Mary at the time. Jesus's life was great. His miracles were great. His teaching was great. His sacrificial death on the cross was great. His Resurrection was great. His authority is great. His power is great. His love is great. And the salvation He offers is great. But when we first find God operating in our lives and revealing Himself to us, we can't take it all in. It's only as we continue to live in relationship with God, read the Bible, go to church and pray, that we come to understand.

Jesus is called the Son of the Most High, because that's who He is:

  • Firstly, He's the second person of the Holy Trinity - God the Son, from eternity to eternity.
  • Secondly, He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, as we'll read in a moment.
  • Thirdly, Jesus is God the Father's only natural child. Every Christian is a child of God, but we're all His adopted children. We all had earthly fathers. Jesus didn't. He was God's natural child, and was adopted by Joseph. We're children of human fathers, and are adopted by God.
  • Fourthly, we all resemble God our Father to some extent, but Jesus is the perfect Son - the perfect copy of the Father. Jesus perfectly embodies good character. He's sinless. He's full of love, grace and mercy. He's humble. He's sacrificial. He's powerful. He's authoritative; He's the King of Kings.

Jesus reigns on David's throne, and He always will, fulfilling Isaiah 9:7, "Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on Davidís throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and for ever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this." He is the King of the Jews. He's the King of the Church. He's the King of the Universe.

Luke 1v34
"How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"

Mary doesn't understand. Of course she doesn't. But we don't need to know how God will do what He promises. We only need to trust Him that He will keep His word. Sometimes, however, God will give us some insight into how He will accomplish His purposes:

Luke 1v35
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God."

How much of that do you suppose Mary really understood? I suspect not much at the time. But afterwards, when she had her baby before she had sex, she would have realised what Gabriel was saying.

Perhaps she understood at the moment of conception. She may have had some sort of awareness at the moment that the Holy Spirit came upon her and the power of the Most High overshadowed her. But we don't know. And if she did, we don't know what it was like.

We do know that this information was enough for Mary. She accepted it.

Luke 1v36-37
Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

Gabriel then told her that her elderly relative was pregnant. In these days of Facebook and emails, or even of old-fashioned letters, it can be hard for us to imagine that she didn't already know.

The miracle conception of John the Baptist is a demonstration to Mary that the miracle conception of Jesus Christ is possible. It's a demonstration that God keeps His promises. It was a miracle that Elizabeth was pregnant but it would be a far greater miracle for Mary to become pregnant, because she was a virgin. But nothing is impossible with God.

Think about that for a moment: Nothing is impossible with God.

Whatever God has promised you, He can deliver. Whatever God wants to do in your life, He can do. And God can come to any one of us, as he did to Zechariah, and as he did to Mary, with or without an angel, and completely change our lives.

Do you want God to change your life? Do you accept that, if He does, it might come as a bit of a shock, and you might need to do quite a lot of adjusting your thinking? Do you trust God that any change He wants to make in your life is a good change, even if it's not a comfortable change?

  • The last time Gabriel spoke to a human, it was to promise a child to an old married couple - Zechariah and Elizabeth, past their child-hearing years. This time, he promises a child to a virgin, before her child-bearing years.
  • Last time, Gabriel brought good news to a priest, standing in the Holy Place. This time, he comes to speak to a girl, in an unfashionable northern town.
  • Last time, he came to prophesy a great prophet - John the Baptist. This time, he comes to prophesy the Messiah - Jesus.

God can do anything. And God can reveal Himself to anybody. Nothing is impossible with God.

He came to Mary, and promised she would have a baby by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this baby would be the Saviour of the world. It would take some getting used to.

Luke 1v38
"I am the Lordís servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."
Then the angel left her.

Mary was a good, God-fearing girl. She knew that if God wants to do something through her, then the right response is to accept the will of God.

I'm sure she knew that the people of the village wouldn't understand. I'm sure she knew some of them, at least, would be horrible to her. But Mary had a very special gift. She had the gift of knowing that whatever God wanted to do, was good. She trusted God.

May we follow her example.