Each week of Advent we are lighting a different candle, and discussing one unique aspect of the Christmas Story...But as we do so, we are also more importantly, comparing the details of these Nativity Events of Old...To our own lives, in our journey to draw nearer to Our Savior...Or maybe, to even see Him for the FIRST TIME, as they did on that awesome Night! Listen each week, as we see key details and events, which prove that these people... Who were used by God to literally change the entire world...Are not so different from you or I... Or at least, not so different than we COULD BE... If we so CHOSE, in our love for the Coming Messiah as well!
Meaning, if they could be used that powerfully... If they could draw that close to Jesus... Then, you and I can as well...It is possible!
Last week, for Advent, we lit the BLACK CANDLE…To show the darkness over Israel while they waited in physical and spiritual oppression for their Savior to appear...And we heard just a few of the prophecies foretelling His coming in great detail... To a specific family, in a specific town, at precisely the right moment in history...Showing us the reality of the Scriptures!
The Proof of God's hand on all of the events that were to soon occur on that first Christmas... Piercing the Darkness!
Today we light the PINK CANDLE...To represent the sweet young mother of Christ... Mary! Who was chosen to bring the Hope of Salvation for all mankind, into this world! Listen, as she receives the news from the Angel, Gabriel...Which would change every aspect of her life, instantly!
Luke 1:26-38 (NKJV)
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.
We have good reason to believe Mary was between 13 and 15 years of age when she was given this calling! No special education, special knowledge, special experiences in life...She was from one of the simplest, backwards, lowliest places on earth... WHY was SHE chosen for such an important and intimate task?
What would make her so special, cherished, and "highly favored" to God?Maybe... Just maybe, if we can see what was different about this poor young girl... We can all learn how to draw closer to Him ourselves!
Now… Let's walk through Scriptures together and glean some wonderful facts from God's own Words... About why Mary was chosen for such a wonderful task! And apply them to our walk!
26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,
Gabriel is used on several occasions as a Messenger for God...And each time news is given in regards to the Coming of the Messiah…It seems that Gabriel is the Angel which is presenting the news! He appears to Daniel when the very timetable that we studied last week is given, telling of the exact time of our Messiah's coming...Then he appears to Zacharias in the Temple, foretelling of the birth of John to make a way for the Messiah...Then he appears here to Mary herself, announcing the coming of Jesus The Christ! It seems clear that Gabriel is somehow intimately linked…With overseeing and orchestrating the appearance of our Lord on this earth, in His eternal Plan?!
Now... let's begin a detailed look at Mary...This city to which Gabriel was sent to meet Mary... Nazareth...It alone, reveals so much about her...Nazareth was a very small town! (So small it made Bethlehem look big- Pop. 300 to 1000!) The population was literally about 50 to 100 max! (That’s the size of this church!)
There was ONE well for the entire community (can go there today) It was a backwoods, hole-in-the-wall, little town of the first century...
And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.”
Judeans considered this whole area where Jesus lived…Where the small town of Nazareth was located… Galilee…To be a land of uneducated country folk of questionable lineage…Who were rabble-rousers and trouble makers…Whose dialect did not even contain proper speech and pronunciation! Nathanael, a future disciple of Jesus was from the area of Galilee…When he was told about the Messiah who would come from Nazareth by Philip…
John 1:45-46 (NKJV)
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." 46 And Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see."
So even backwoods, simple folk from Galilee…Considered Nazareth to be backwoods! Meaning Mary comes from a very poor neck of the woods, from a very simple family... With a backwoods accent! And based on the culture as a whole, and especially where she was from, it is almost certain that Mary had little to no education at all! (Women weren’t often educated well) Record so far...Poor family...Small, backwards town...No education, or skills...Off to a menial start in life... Not much to offer!!
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary.
There are many guesses about the ages of this young couple...But everything we can find about the culture and times, along with the Greek word for, "virgin" used here, strongly suggests that Mary was somewhere around 13 or 14 years old when she was visited by Gabriel!
"Betrothal" meant they were, for all practical reasons, already married...This was a time of preparation for the young groom to prepare a home, usually an addition to the father's house... Hhmmmm...And a period of waiting (usually up to a year)Before moving into the same house together or consummating the marriage physically...This betrothal was so serious, that a bill of divorce was required to end the relationship!And any sexual contact outside this union was considered adultery!
28 And having come in, the angel said to her, "Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"
Just for the record, the word for, “highly favored" in Greek is charitoo (khar-ee-to'-o)Meaning accepted or favored in mercy and grace... Proving Mary needs God's Grace, as do we all! Now, try to imagine receiving the news in these following verses… When you are a 14 year old girl!
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.
Gabriel's appearance made both Daniel and Zacharias become overwhelmed with fear at his presence! Mary is troubled by his appearance… And his WORDS...An unbelievable occurrence…AND being called “favored” and “blessed”!? “Are you in the right house, Angel?!”
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."
Gabriel does not get angry with Mary's question, as he seemed to do with Zacharias' question…When he struck Zacharias silent until John's birth...Because Mary believed whole-heartedly in God's ability to do as He said…She simply questioned HOW He was to work, since she didn’t yet have a husband! Zacharias doubted! Which are you? If we see the entire picture communicated about Mary in these verses of Scripture…We will realize why God would choose…This seemingly plain, lowly woman for one of the greatest honors in history! LISTEN CLOSELY!!
Mary was in one of the most exciting, and anticipated times of her whole life... Making plans to be wed! And in the middle of all the plans for her entire future, Gabriel appears! Giving her news that would completely destroy everything she anticipated to this point! Ponder with me for a moment, Mary's reaction to all she was asked to give in complete and humble obedience:
Not once, did Mary question God as to whether anyone would believe her, or if she would even be protected! The Hebrew Law allowed punishment up to, and including death by stoning! And although proof shows that the Roman occupation may have taken away that power officially...It was not uncommon for the Roman Government to be lax on the Jews when they invoked, "lynch laws" in mob hysteria…And unofficially executed other Jews in religious charges (if not a Roman citizen) https://www.gotquestions.org/stoning-of-Stephen.html
Jesus was about to be publicly stoned on more than one occasion...Saul (Paul) held the outer clothing of the mob that stoned Stephen...Paul himself, was stoned and left for dead! Mary was absolutely accepting the possibility that she would possibly be stoned, or become a fugitive by following God! Even if they chose not to kill her, she knew she would probably lose her fiancé, and her entire planned future!
She knew she would completely lose her reputation within this small community of 50 to 100…Where everyone intimately knew one another...
Where would a 14 year old girl...In a patriarchal society…With no skills…Go if she was rejected by house and husband, in a small and remote village in the middle of nowhere?
This may very well be why she left for Elizabeth's house immediately upon her conception...She wanted the safety and faith building company of the only other person on earth that would truly understand, and celebrate with her! She wanted affirmation of the entire supernatural event from the ONLY other person who had been involved! She no doubt, was faced with skepticism even from the closest family members, if not outright disbelief and shame! Surely this also, was part of the reason she traveled so far with Joseph, when she was so close to delivery, even though law only required Joseph in Bethlehem! Jesus did not reveal Who He was until 30yrs after His Birth…Mary couldn’t flaunt a bumper sticker saying, “My Son can save your son!”
According to historical records…And the fact that everyone believed Jesus to be an ordinary Man most of His life…Mary lived with this social shame her entire life...
While living one of the most selfless, and righteous lives in history! At this young age…With her whole life about to be changed for what looked like the worst... Mary did not contemplate for one second...
What she would miss in life, or what she'd suffer...Who would stand with her, or who would leave her...Parents, friends, husband, place in society…And maybe her very life... Were all up for grabs with one decision for God! And yet, she didn't hesitate with THIS answer...
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 word Mary used here is very powerful and significant...The Greek word, doule (doo'-lay) mean...A female slave or bondservant...One who is a servant or slave for life…Who has no rights of their own...
In the Hebrew culture, an indentured servant…Served for six years, then were freed…But they could choose to voluntarily become a bond servant for life by declaring, "They love their master and do not want to go free!" (Exodus 21:5)
In essence she was answering every question of obedience we have just entertained with one attitude towards God... "I love You and do not want to be free! I completely belong to You, and it is not my life to decide... Have your way UNCONDITIONALLY!" Just as Christ said as He sweat drops of Blood in the Garden, "Never the less, not My will but Thine be done."
Philippians 2:5-8 (NKJV)
5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
The word for bondservant here is the masculine form of the exact word which Mary used!! If Jesus Christ freely became a Bondservant to God the Father, on our behalf... When HE was God Himself... If we say WE have accepted Christ...Then we can no longer claim…It is our right and our decision...
As to whether we will live in obedience to His will for our lives?!!! As to when and where we say yes or no when He calls?! As to whether we will choose to continue living in sin?! THERE IS NO CHOICE! IF THAT DECISION IS REAL... WE GAVE UP THAT DECISION FREELY, AND SUBMITTED TO HIS WILL!
Why did Mary so quickly submit every aspect of her life to God in an instant? Because she LOVED and TRUSTED Him so much! Meaning, she knew that everything God would ask of her, no matter how against the grain, or seemingly unpleasant...Was based upon His overwhelming love...And His wisdom, which is far beyond our reach! "It's not what you have, but what you give!"
When Mary went to stay with Elizabeth for those three months...Elizabeth called her blessed, and confirmed to her that all the things God said to her would be fulfilled...To which Mary responds with words of poetic praise & worship...
Words which show that even though Mary may have been illiterate...Her attention to, and love for the Scriptures was amazing...Because even at this young age her response…Now known as the, "Magnificat"…Included knowledge and quotes from a number of OT passages! Listen to these precious words of wisdom as a 14 year old girl praises God!
Luke 1:46-49 (NKJV)
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.
The praises go on for six or so more stanzas...But I want you to please see that in response to...Possibly ruining her entire life on earth... Guaranteeing that she will live a life of struggle and sorrow... Maybe even face public trials of humiliation and stoning...
Her heartfelt view...Her heartfelt reaction to the entire situation...Was worship and thanksgiving for being BLESSED BY GOD AS THE ONE CHOSEN TO BE USED... CHOSEN TO GO THROUGH ALL OF THIS FOR HIM!
AND SHE CONSIDERS HERSELF AND HER LIFE TO BE NOTHING! THAT IS WHY GOD USED SIMPLE, YOUNG, POOR, ILLITERATE, MARY... For the most awesome task in history...
Not because of one single thing that she had...But because of what she was willing to GIVE...Which was EVERYTHING...
Listen to what she gave up...And ask yourself if you are holding out on PRICELESS OBEDIENCE... Which truly shows your love...While trying to show all of the worthless THINGS…YOU THINK YOU HAVE of value to God!
- And in return, she received a man that would love, cherish, believe, and protect her to the end of his life!
MARY WAS SO CLOSE TO GOD, SO SPECIAL TO GOD, SO USED OF GOD...
BECAUSE SHE REALIZED SHE HAD NOTHING... YET SHE GAVE EVERYTHING!!
Her obedience in faith and love completely directed her entire life, even at 13 or 14 years old! We would all do well to take Mary's words of advice, stemming from her many years of intimate experience raising Jesus...When, in a precious moment of trust and silent communication at a wedding, she simply told Jesus,
"They have no wine." - John 2:3
And though Jesus even protests to her that it is not time for Him to show His power yet...The unspoken, intimate moment between their glances let her know He would fulfill her desires...And so, she showed absolutely no reservation or worry…As she boldly instructed the servants attending the feast...
"Whatever He says to you, do it!"
Because she had learned what complete and instant obedience brings when trusting God!!!
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