Saturday, December 20, 2014

Christmas Story 1, Gabriel and Mary (Luke 1:26-38, Isaiah 7:14-15, 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, Luke1:46-55)

The story begins in the Old Testament with prophecies.  It's such an incredible story, I'm sure people debated how the prophecy could possibly be fulfilled for many years.  I wonder if they discussed whether the scripture is literal or figurative...  Here's one prophecy:

Isaiah 7:14-15
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.  
27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence.
(1 Corinthians 1:27-29 NKJV)

After many many years, God sent the angel, "Gabriel," to visit Mary.

Luke 1:26-38
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. 

I would have been nervous too if I heard the words, "Rejoice highly favored one..."  I'd be skeptical of who this was, and what this was about.  This is a common reaction to an angel's appearance in the Bible.  But it also shows how humble Mary was.  She didn't say, "You got that right!"  

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?"

Jacob became Israel after wrestling God.  Another twist is that there already was a king in place for Israel, "Herod."  He was put in place by the Romans.  So what Gabriel is saying is that her child would reign over Israel.  Her response is so sincere.  "What!!?  Wait a minute... She might've been thinking, I was just picking flowers and feeding animals what is all this?"

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. 


Her faith must've been very strong.  She seeks to please God, acknowledging she is His maidservant.  Perhaps this is why God chose her to bear His Son.  Her faith is simple trust, she is humble, and wise.  You would think God would choose a wealthy family, people with educations, and a big safe house.  But not our God.  He chose Mary and Joseph, two hardworking young people, with a simple faith that helped change the world.  I can only imagine what Mary must've been thinking after meeting Gabriel.  I would've been going over this for awhile in my mind.  

"Mary pondered these things in her heart"
© Karen Kyle Ericson, all rights reserved.
Mary's song:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
   of the humble state of his servant.
   From now on all generations will call me      blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
    from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
    he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
    but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
    but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
    just as he promised our ancestors.”

Luke 1:46-55

Here's a song that describes how Mary may have felt:   

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