Summary: Resolving feelings of inadequacy by observing God's ability to use the marginalized for service
Luke 1:26-38 “Announcement of Jesus’ Birth”
All of us probably wish that there were something special about ourselves.
Sure, there are those who seem to be gifted with a strong confidence in life and an intense sense of purpose, but the vast majority of us struggle with feelings of inadequacy and inferiority in all areas of life
What are some of the areas we can feel inadequate to deal with?
...in relationships, at work, even just in facing the challenges of life.
This is also something that effects our thinking at times when it comes to God.
We have this very common tendency, as we talked about a few weeks ago, to assume that there are those who are really good at being Christians, and then there is me.
I struggle with this all the time...a feeling of inadequacy and inability when it comes to my journey with Christ, not to mention the insane idea that I’m supposed to be a leader in this church.
It’s very easy to create a straw man in our minds, the good Christian, the one who is capable of doing and saying the right things all the time, the ones who are really in a position to be USED by God in significant ways.
Our current Christian culture has only reinforced that tendency by creating ministry CELEBRITIES...the big name authors and speakers whom we idolize and look up to and consider to be the important Christians in our time.
But I’ll tell you, if there’s one thing Luke’s gospel will do...it will shatter that idea.
We’re gonna’ continue our study in Luke, so if you have a Bible, open it to Luke 1 please.
One of the driving themes of Luke’s gospel is the way God intentionally seeks out the marginalized to use and to bless.
Luke loudly proclaims, this plan of God’s is for EVERYONE...ANYONE is able to be a part and play a significant role in what God’s doing.
This becomes very clear as we read the next story in the events that lead up to X’s appearing on the earth.
Last time, we read about a priest named Zechariah and his infertile wife Elizabeth...how an angel visited Zechariah while he was in the temple, and told him that God heard his prayer for a son…and remember, Zach had trouble believing that, so God sent a corrective impairment to get his attention.
The section ended with Elizabeth getting pregnant, and we considered how we can learn about coping with disappointment by looking at their story.
So now today, the story picks up 6 months later...after Elizabeth has realized she’s carrying a child.
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.
Now, just off the bat, we don’t notice much about the details Luke provides here...we hear names like Galilee and Nazareth and they are automatically associated with sacred places in our minds…but that certainly wouldn’t have been the case to the first readers of this account.
Especially 1st Century Jewish readers...they would have been suspicious right off the bat.
Gabriel they would have known from the book of Daniel...only two angels are ever mentioned in Scripture...he is one of them…but why Gabe would have ignored Judea and Jerusalem, which has always been the heart of God’s work with Israel...and gone north to Galilee...to a town that probably most of that time had never heard of…THAT wouldn’t have made any sense.
Galilee was a place of contempt for most respectable Jewish people at that time. It was largely inhabited by what one writer called a “mongrelized” population...mostly gentiles, Roman soldiers and Greek merchants...and the Jewish people who lived in Galilee were not known for their piety.
Nazareth was a non-place. I remember years ago when Hurricane Opal came through, and Robbie and I gathered up the kids and evacuated, we were heading North and we drove through this little place called “Two Egg” Florida. I looked them up….here’s the historic downtown district.
This gives you an idea of what Nazareth was like. There’s a larger city in Nazareth now...but only because of Jesus’s story...before that, it was Two Egg.
Right off the bat, something is strange with this story...an announcement is about to be made that the Messiah is going to be born...God is coming into the world...not in Jerusalem or Rome or Athens...but in Nazareth. Not in London or Paris or Washington DC or in Hollywood...but in Two Egg.
Some nowhere town...and who the angel goes to is strange. Not a famous person, or, even like at least Zachariah and Elizabeth were, people of religious significance….not to one of the high priest’s children, not to anyone from Herod’s court.