Summary: we reflect on Gabriel's announcement to Mary, what a great gift Jesus is, and how we respond.
12.20.20 Luke 1:26–38
26 In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin pledged in marriage to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” 29 But she was greatly troubled by the statement and was wondering what kind of greeting this could be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God. 31 Listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to 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 his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered her, “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. 36 Listen, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age even though she was called barren, and this is her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible for God.” 38 Then Mary said, “See, I am the Lord’s servant. May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Jesus is the Greatest Gift
We never asked for
It was Father’s Day, maybe about 10 or 15 years ago, that my wife showed me a present she had bought me. It was an above ground pool. I wasn’t as thrilled about the gift as one might think, because it meant that I would have to spend my afternoon putting the pool together. I would also have to make sure that the water didn’t turn green. So I was kind of grumpy that afternoon because of that “gift”, but we laugh about it now.
It goes to show that not all gifts are wanted or well received. Sometimes you might need to ask first before the gift is given. Think of King Ahaz, a king of Israel who lived about 700 years before Jesus was born. They were under attack by Aram and Ephraim and on the verge of defeat. God offered Ahaz the gift of a sign to prove that he would not lose a battle and that God would rescue them. But that would have required Ahaz to not trust in his alliance that he wanted to work out with a foreign country and just trust that God would work it out. That was too much of a risk. Ahaz didn’t WANT that gift of a sign. He refused it. He didn’t want to believe.
Think about today’s text. God sends the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that she’s going to receive a gift - the Messiah is going to be born through her! He simply says, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women.” In humility and fear, Mary is troubled by what he has to say. “Why am I favored? Who am I to receive such a favor? And HOW exactly am I favored?” Gabriel sees the fear and wonder in her face. He says, “Do not be afraid, Mary, because you have found favor with God. 31 Listen, you will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to 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 his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” Talk about dropping a bomb on someone! He doesn’t give her a choice in the matter. He simply says, “this is what’s going to happen.”
I mean, you don’t just show up on someone’s doorstep with a dog, much less a human. What are you going to do with that?!? And what’s more - she isn’t going to adopt this child - she’s going to bear this child. She’d most likely experience the weight gains, the food cravings, the morning sickness, the pain of childbirth, and then the rest of her life would be changed raising this child. She had no choice in the matter. God had chosen her not to just have a child, but to give birth to the Messiah, the son of the Most High, God in the flesh. These words of Gabriel were reflected in our Old Testament prophecy for today. Mary probably had heard these words in church. They may have been popular in her day. She knew exactly what he was saying.