Summary: #2 in Christmas series on fear. What was Mary told not to be afraid of? God’s plans were about to change hers.
Luke 1:26-38 – Mary, Did You Know?
Today we are continuing our series on fear at Christmas time. In the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke, there are 4 times when people are told specifically not to be afraid. Last week we looked at Zechariah, and this week we are looking at Mary. Let’s read the story from Luke 1:26-38.
Now, you can see that Mary’s 1st response to the angel showing up was subdued. I mean, last week we saw how Zechariah, an old man, was terrified of the heavenly messenger. But Mary, a young teenage girl, wasn’t terrified. She seemed more questioning of the angel’s appearance than scared by it.
The angel shared good news with Mary. He said she was highly favoured, that God had chosen her to be part of His wonderful plans. The angel said that the Lord was with her. Now, this is important. Mary most certainly needed to know that the Lord was with her. She needed to know that what was going to happen was part of God’s plans.
Which is why Gabriel told Mary not to be afraid. Because Mary’s life was about to be turned upside-down forever. And that’s never an easy thing to handle.
Generally, change is hard. Positive changes we generally welcome. A better job, a new relationship, an improvement of some kind in our lives. But even then, a change comes with certain difficulties. Getting used to the new thing takes time. Getting married is wonderful, but then you have to give up half the bed. It’s a welcome change, but it’s still a change that takes some getting-used-to.
Now, picture Mary’s changes. She was engaged to a good man, Joseph. They were going to be married. Back then, an engagement was practically as binding as a marriage. To end an engagement was the same as divorce.
So then the angel showed up and told her she was going to have a baby. That would be stunning enough. Let’s pause there for a moment. Even if girls got married as teenagers back then, and it was expected, you tell her she’s pregnant out of wedlock, too. Nowadays, it’s shameful. Then it was disgraceful. Nowadays it’s sad. Then it was considered sinful.
Mary was entering a whole new world by becoming pregnant. That was a change that she seemed to embrace well, but the angel still told her not to be afraid over it. Mary’s plans for her life and for her family were changed forever by the announcement that she would have a baby.
As if that weren’t enough. As if hearing the news that you were going to have a baby isn’t life-changing enough. Throw in the fact that it was impossible for her. She was a virgin. She had never been with a man. Now, that’s even more of a shock. There’s the shock that she was having a baby out of wedlock, but there’s the shock of being impossibly pregnant.
On top of it all, we must not forget the main point of the story: the shock of being pregnant with the Son of God. That’s what this is about. This is about Jesus coming to earth. You see, Mary’s plans weren’t being changed just for the sake of change. It wasn’t some whim or flight of fancy. Mary’s plans were being changed because it was for the greater good. It was for everybody’s good. Even if the changes were not going to be 100% pleasant, they were certainly good.
I think of the Chronicles of Narnia. The King, the lion Aslan, is returning to the fantasy world of Narnia. When he returns, he will set the world right. There’s an old saying, “Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”
But the question is, is he dangerous? Well, yes. He is. I mean, have you ever met a tame lion? He most certainly is not safe. But, he’s good. He’s not safe, but he’s good.
I think that describes God’s plans too. They are not always safe. They will sometimes lead us into dangerous places. Missionaries go to unsafe places. Many of the early explorers were believers, and they entered unsafe places. Many believers over the years have lost their lives because they were willing to follow their faith in unsafe places, like Communist regimes, radical Muslim countries, or extreme Hindu nations. Look: if you think that following God’s plans will always lead you to green pastures and beside still waters, you’re in for a shock. God’s plans are not always safe.
But they are good. God’s plans for Mary’s life were good. She was favoured. The Lord was with her. She had found favour with God. You can see the excitement in Mary’s voice as she sang her song that we call the Magnificat, in Luke 1:46-55. She was excited to be part of God’s plans. She took the angel’s words to heart when he said, “Don’t be afraid.”