Summary: Mary, as her song indicates, did look at the big picture, but maybe even better, she looked at her Lord. She is a servant of the Lord. She is in his hands; she lives for his glory. What more does she need to know when she knows him?
Luke 1:26-56 Announcing the Lord’s Coming
12/12/04 D. Marion Clark
The last judge of Israel was Samuel. His mother, Hannah, had been barren. Finally, the Lord answered her prayers and granted her a son who was named Samuel. In gratefulness, she “lent him to the Lord,” letting him grow up under the service of Eli, the priest of the Tabernacle. Samuel became judge over Israel, and eventually anointed the first king to rule over the land – Saul. Saul turned out to be a poor ruler and was rejected by God. But the second king…he was special. God sent Samuel to the small town of Bethlehem to anoint the next king of Israel. Though Samuel thought God’s chosen would be the oldest son, he turned out to be the youngest (eight in all). As God told Samuel concerning the oldest, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Indeed, David was chosen as a man after God’s own heart.
Years later, after David’s throne had been established and the ark of God brought to Jerusalem, God sent the prophet Nathan with a message. He made a covenant with David, to make his name great and to establish his line on the throne of Israel. As he said, “And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:16).
All did not go according to expectation, at least those of David. Because of his own sins and those of his succeeding sons, there would be trouble. Israel would split into two kingdoms. David’s house continued on the throne of the southern kingdom Judah, but their reigns were marked sometimes by righteousness and sometimes by wickedness. Eventually the northern and then the southern kingdom would be brought down. After the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. there was no king to sit over a sovereign nation.
Despite this troubled progression of lineage, God’s promise to David remained alive in the hopes and imagination of the Jewish people. For the promise of steadfast love to God’s covenant people was intimately connected with his promise to David to keep on Israel’s throne an anointed king from David’s house. They hoped some day that one the anointed kings would be The Anointed. Do you know the Hebrew word for “anointed”? It is “masah” or “messiah.” From David’s line was to come the Messiah.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this (Isaiah 9:6-7).
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness’” (Jeremiah 23:5-6).
I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the LORD, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the LORD; I have spoken (Ezekiel 34:22-24).
The day came when God sent the angel Gabriel to announce to Zechariah that his wife would bear a son who would be the Elijah foretold to return and prepare the way for the Messiah. Six months later he sends Gabriel to Elizabeth’s cousin Mary to announce that she will give birth to that very Messiah.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary.
The same angel who appeared to Zechariah now appears about six months later to Mary. She is a young woman, probably about sixteen, who is betrothed (engaged) to Joseph. Unlike our modern engagement period, which has no legal significance, a betrothal was a legally binding contract. Their pending marriage most likely had been arranged by their parents. Mary’s future is preset. She will fulfill the traditional role of a peasant wife and mother in a rural town of a territory far away from Jerusalem, the center of Jewish culture.