Summary: How Mary’s response to God’s enlightenment is an example to us all on how to respond to God.
How to Respond to God
Part 3 of 4 in the series, Christmas Calms Our Fears
Last week we reflected on the pronouncement of the angel to Zechariah that the prayers of he and his wife Elizabeth had been heard and that they were going to have a son. Let’s pick up the story in the first chapter of Luke’s Good News account.
Luke 1:26 (NCV) During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. 28 The angel came to her and said, "Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you." 29 But Mary was very startled by what the angel said and wondered what this greeting might mean. 30 The angel said to her, "Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has shown you his grace. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end." 34 Mary said to the angel, "How will this happen since I am a virgin?" 35 The angel said to Mary, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. For this reason the baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 Now Elizabeth, your relative, is also pregnant with a son though she is very old. Everyone thought she could not have a baby, but she has been pregnant for six months. 37 God can do anything!" 38 Mary said, "I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!" Then the angel went away.
Consider the world into which Jesus was born. It was a time of spiritual darkness. It had been four hundred years since the last Old Testament prophet penned God’s inspired words. The tyranny of Rome captivated the "civilized" world and the carry over from Greek culture included many immoral and unfulfilling philosophies.
And yet, instead of sighing, "Look what the world has come to!" the Bible says, "Look what has come to the world!" (E. Stanley Jones)
With the light of Jesus - darkness met its match! The Good News of the birth of Christ is very positive and uplifting and that’s how Mary received it.
She could have been fearful. As a poor young woman (most believe still in her teens) she could have been overwhelmed by her circumstances. She could have been filled with apprehension at the message of the angel that she, a young virgin, would bear God’s Son.
Instead, the way she responds to God is an example to us all!
So today I want you to further explore Mary’s response to God so that you may discover how you should respond to God.
Three Essential Ways to Respond to God:
1. Respond to God with humility.
Look at Mary’s response when she heard the incredible news that she, as a poor young virgin, would give birth to the Son of God.
Luke 1:38 (NCV) "I am the servant of the Lord. Let this happen to me as you say!"
Humility is all about how you see yourself - and Mary saw herself as a servant. That’s one of the reasons God chose her. God can’t and won’t use proud people to do His work. Proud people get themselves in the way. If you aren’t yielded to God and you think you can handle things on your own your pride will inflate your ego to the point you believe you don’t need God and you will eventually make a mess of things.
Humility in service to God is one of the underlying themes of Christmas.
When God picked a town for Christ to be born in He picked the one camel town of Bethlehem and a cattle stall as the birthing room in that town. When the angels announced Christ’s birth it was to the humble shepherds – not to Herod in the Jerusalem palace. When He needed a servant to bear His Son He chose a humble young woman from Nazareth.
God hasn’t changed. He’s still looking for big commitments from people small in their own eyes.
Proverbs 3:34 (GNT) He (God) has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.
It really shouldn’t be that difficult for any of us to be humble. It’s a matter of perspective.
William Beebe, the naturalist, used to tell how he and Teddy Roosevelt would go out on the lawn together after an evening of talk. They would search the skies for a certain spot of light near the lower left-hand corner of the Great Square of Pegasus. Then Roosevelt would say, "That is the Spiral Galaxy in Andromeda. It is as large as our Milky Way. It is one of a hundred million galaxies. It consists of one hundred billion suns, each larger than our sun."