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Summary: Mary was troubled by the angel's greeting, but Gabriel calmed her fears.

December 18, 2011 Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.

But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For there is no impossibility when it comes to every Word of God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Christ is Coming: Do Not Be Afraid

I. Of compliments

On Judgment Day many unbelievers will be surprised when none of their works will be recognized by Jesus. They will assume that God had been smiling at all of their works throughout their lives. Jesus spoke of the Pharisee at the front of the church who wanted to remind God in his prayers about how faithful he had been with his offerings and fasting. Jesus said that his prayers and works would end up being rejected. How surprised he would be at his death.

This is the nature of unbelief and pride; people want to be seen for what they do. They demand recognition; for their whole self-worth depends on what others think of them. They get angry and upset when all of their glorious works are passed by without recognition. The religion of the flesh is constantly doing things to be noticed by God and noticed by others; get a badge for an achievement. Everyone has temptations for this; it is a weight around the souls of believers as well. It is something we struggle with in life. One of the greatest revelations God brings in the Word of God is that the greatest of our works are but like filthy rags in God’s sight. We can’t put a badge on anything.

Ironically, in spite of the fact that our works are filthy, Jesus said that He will not be ashamed to mention the works of believers on Judgment Day. Most believers are embarrassed when their works are mentioned. They don’t feel worthy of being mentioned. On Judgment Day Jesus said that believers will even ask Him incredulously, “When did we do that?” This is the nature of faith. When we are brought to a realization of what sinners we truly are and the Holy Spirit shows us how filthy our works are; attention and recognition embarrasses us. It makes us leery of compliments, for we know we are not worthy of them.

Mary responded the same way to the angel Gabriel. Gabriel had some wonderful things to say about Mary. Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” “Highly favored” is a passive word in the Greek. It can mean that she was made beautiful, lovely, agreeable or charming or just plain “graced.” The proud man would have perked his ears up and puffed out his chest at such a greeting. But “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” The word for “troubled” is only used this one time in the New Testament; it is a thorough type of troubling; even more so than Herod at the news of the Wise men who had come to worship the true Christ; more than Jesus at the grave of Lazarus. Notice carefully what the Word says greatly troubled Mary. It doesn’t say that the appearance of the angel greatly troubled her. It was the greeting that did it. Mary didn’t know how or why she would get such a wonderful greeting. It greatly troubled her.

When someone says to you, “You have a servant’s heart,” you might pessimistically realize you are being flattered in order to be asked to do something nobody else wants to do. My overseer on the janitor crew back in college used to say to me, “You’re number 1 at weed whacking.” I didn’t care for this compliment because it meant I was going to have to keep doing it. Mary wasn’t troubled because she was afraid to serve. She just didn’t know exactly how or why God considered her to be so graced. She had done nothing extraordinary. She didn’t feel worthy of such a greeting. She was nothing but a young servant girl. What was God choosing her for? What was she to do? It isn’t every day that an angel hands out such compliments to someone. She was deeply troubled by this, but she didn’t need to be.

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