It never ceases to amaze, how much truth, help and blessing there is in our daily readings. I get fresh insights from the Lord most days, even from passages I have read many times. The temptation is to read familiar passages quickly, even skimming them – don’t! Try reading the passage out loud to slow you down to let it sink in.
Angel sent by God v26
Angels are spiritual beings, whose main function appears to be to act as messengers. They are NOT to be worshipped. If what they say lines up with Scripture and exalts Jesus as Lord then listen and act! We must be careful, because the Bible warns us that demons, who are fallen angels can appear as angels of light (2 Cor 11:14). Many in our culture, especially spiritual ‘New Agers’, chase after angels and find demons.
If you see or are visited by an angel from the Lord, it’ll be a great blessing! As it is here with Mary.
Mary was a virgin before the birth of Christ
That is important because it means that Jesus doesn’t carry our genetic propensity for sin, original sin which is passed down from Adam’s side. His death won’t be for his own sin (as he didn’t sin) and won’t be marred by the sinful nature. It will be a perfect pure, blameless, spotless sacrifice that is sufficient once for all sin, efficacious for those who trust in Him.
Mary didn’t stay a virgin, because Jesus had brothers! And she was a sinner like us too. But God chose her by grace, like us, to be greatly favoured!
Don’t be afraid
I’ve read occasionally that the Bible says “Don’t be afraid!” 365 times, one for each day. Fake news! It’s 82 times; but that is still more than enough for us. An encounter with God, or angelic visitation can be a fearful thing, as we are confronted with glory and wonder that is not natural! Mary was troubled by being favoured. Are you troubled by being favoured? Feeling unworthy, feeling like you don’t deserve it, weighed down with past sin or mistakes. Fear not, that’s grace! God favours us because he loves us and not because we are worthy, deserving or good enough. Fear not! God has chosen you to be favoured.
This kind of fear comes from a lack of God’s perfect love, because 1 John 4:17 tells us that fear has to do with punishment – to do with our unworthiness and so on. Perfect love drives it out!
It’s all about Jesus
We are finally introduced to Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. As I write this, I am listening to “Love has a name” – love has a name, victory has a name, joy has a name, peace has a name, freedom has a name – Jesus! Fix your eyes on Him!
- The baby to be born will be called Jesus – The Lord Saves.
- The baby born will be called the Son of the Most High – Most High is one of the Old testament names for God – (Genesis 14:18; Psalm 47:2, 91:1; Daniel 7:18). there is no one higher, no-one greater than God. Jesus, the Son of the Most High has the same essence as God Most High. “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” Hebrews 1:3.
- The throne of David – In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, God told David he would have a Son who would reign forever. And that Son was not Solomon, but the Messiah, Jesus.
- Never ending kingdom – this Jesus, Son of the Most High , on the throne of David will reign wonderfully and beautifully for ever more. This baby that was being announced will die on the cross. Death could not hold Him down. He will and now hasburst forth in resurrection power having disarmed and made a spectacle of Satan. More and more people are coming into the blessing of enjoying God as their Father, through what Jesus has done. One day, He will return to establish his kingdom on earth where there will be no evil, no pain and no tears… Handel’s Hallelujah chorus expresses it beautifully in the triumphant conclusion “He shall reign forever and ever!”
Acceptance, but questions
One of the things I love about Mary is that she accepts this amazing revelation, even with questions of “how can it be?” The mechanism will be an overshadowing of the Spirit – not an ancient pagan god having his wicked way with her, but a pure and holy overshadowing miracle. Even with questions though, she accepts what the Lord is going to do.
God opens wombs
Over the years, some of my hardest pastoral moments have been sitting with couples unable to have children. God opens and closes wombs – we see it with Rachel and Leah in the book of Genesis and we see it here with Elizabeth, filled with shame and past the child bearing age. It is God who fearfully and wonderfully knits us together taking the sperm and egg from conception and forming a wonderful human being. If you are struggling with conceiving, I pray that you will experience the same blessing that Elizabeth did. We’d love to pray for you – I’ve seen the Lord enable a pregnancy to happen where there was no hope and I trust he will do it again, because…
Nothing is impossible with God
It’s true, nothing is impossible with God. He who created the heavens and the earth can do it. The Angel Gabriel tells Mary that God can do it; don’t worry about how, just trust. Mary beautifully says “Okay God!”
And what follows will be the crux of history.