This morning, we are continuing in our series entitled, "What We Have Learned From the Christmas Story." Today’s message is the third in this series that will take us up to Christmas. In the first message, God revealed to us His sovereignty in Matthew 1:18-25. The second message brought to light another participant in God’s plan - Joseph, and we saw how Joseph was God’s man for God’s time.
Now we come to the first chapter of Luke and see another important participant in this drama. We see the mother of our Lord. We see Mary. Let’s turn in our Bibles to Luke 1:26. This morning, by the help of the Lord, I’d like to preach a message entitled, "Mary: Pure, Prepared, and Privileged."
We are told in Revelation 13:8 that the Lamb was slain before the foundation of the world. So we understand that God has always possessed a plan to redeem fallen humanity. The plan, however, was very specific, and it is here that I would like to begin.
I. Mary Was a Chosen Vessel
Since before the foundation of the world, Mary was to be the chosen vessel to bring our Savior into this world. But why did God choose Mary? Why not someone else? I believe that God’s Word sheds light on why Mary was chosen.
First, Mary was chosen because of her purity. The Scriptures explain to us that the angel Gabriel was sent to the city of Nazareth during the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. The purpose of this trip we are told is so that Gabriel can relate God’s plan to a virgin named Mary. This virgin was espoused to a man from the lineage of David named Joseph.
Hundreds of years before, the prophet Isaiah foretold of this event when he stated, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." (Is. 7:14). The event also marked the soon coming fulfillment of the promise of Genesis 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Some today attempt to discount the validity of this point saying that the word "virgin" only refers to a young woman. Others feel that Mary being a virgin is not of great importance. Both views are incorrect. God promised that the Savior of the world would come through the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15) without the aid of a human male. Why? Because all humans are sinners (Rom. 3:23). According to Romans 5:12, their sinful nature is passed on through the seed of the man. When Adam sinned in the garden, he became a sinner. From that point on, just as the man’s human nature is passed on to his offspring, so also is his sinful nature. God’s plan to send a Savior into the world involved Him sending a pure Savior that did not inherit the sinful nature of humanity, but rather only inheriting a physical body and a human nature. God accomplished this through the virgin birth of Jesus.
Secondly, I believe that Mary was chosen because of her passion. Often, when we ask someone to complete an assignment, or as a pastor, if I ask someone for help in regards to the functioning of the church and it’s ministries, the reaction is not always positive. For some, it’s like pulling teeth to get them involved in the work of God. Many use excuses, some gripe, and others just plain say no. But not Mary. When she was told of God what her assignment was, she immediately acquiesced and excitedly went and told Elizabeth. Would to God that we would have the excitement and passion that Mary possessed when God moves us to action. It is little wonder that submissive Mary who stated, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word," would bare a Son who would state, "take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt."
Thirdly, I believe that Mary was chosen because of her preparation. Mary was raised under God’s Word. Most scholars believe Mary to be only 14-15 years old at this time, but in the Magnificat, we read of Mary praying much in the same manner as Hannah when she praised God for Samuel. She also quoted many of the Psalms in her song to the Lord. This allows us to understand that Mary was well versed in the Word of God. We need that same commitment to understanding the Word of God. In Hosea, we hear God state that His people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge. We need to be well read in the Word in order to be ready when God calls us to action. The Christian life is not a playground but a battlefield.
II. Mary Was a Capable Vessel
Accepting this assignment from the Lord was not an easy task to do. It would also bring much heartache as Mary would be viewed as a fornicator and sinner (Luke 4:22; John 8:41; John 9:34), and she would have to endure the horrible death of her son. But yet Mary was fully capable to fulfill God’s will.
With all of the pressure, how was she able to it? First, because she trusted in God’s plan. The plan was for God to bring forth His Son in order that He would establish His eternal kingdom here on earth and reign over the house of Jacob forever (v. 31-33). If Mary knew God’s Word, and we know that she did, she knew that this was the plan for the Messiah. This was foretold in Isaiah 9:6-7 when the prophet wrote, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this."
Secondly, Mary trusted in God’s purpose. She was told to call the name of this child JESUS. This was a very specific and important request. The name JESUS means "Jehovah is Salvation" and confirms the message given to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-25 where Joseph was also to name the child JESUS, "for he shall save his people from their sins." This also confirmed the message to the shepherds when the angels proclaimed, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." God’s purpose was to provide a redeemer. The Apostle Paul stated in Galatians 4:4-5, "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons." Mary trusted in this for she states that her spirit "hath rejoiced in God my Savior." (v. 47).
There may be those that will say that Mary was perfect therefore needing no Savior, but Mary herself would disagree. In Luke 1:48, Mary sings, "For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden..." The words "low estate" come from the Greek "tapeinosis" which means humiliation. But this is not humiliation which comes from a naturally humble spirit, but rather a humiliation because of one’s vileness. Mary knew that she was a sinner, and considered herself a vile one at that. But how could Mary see herself as vile? In the light of God’s glory, even the most moral upstart is as a filthy rag. Listen to the Apostle Paul: "O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" (Rom. 7:24), and "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief." (I Tim. 1:15). It was more wonderful to Mary to know that even in her vile condition that God had regarded her.
This same type of event occured once in the Old Testament when King David sought to do kindness to those left of the house of Saul. At the word of Ziba, a servant of Saul, David finds Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan, and commits to provide for his every need. Mephibosheth’s response? "And he bowed himself, and said, What is thy servant, that thou shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?" (II Sam. 9:8). Here the king sought to do kindness to one whose family had sought to kill him. That is exactly what Christ does. He seeks to show kindness to all who have sinned, the very reason He had to die, adopt them into the King’s family, and provide for their every need. Mary fully knew and understood this.
Thirdly, Mary trusted in God’s power. Mary was a virgin, and virgins do not conceive children. Admittedly, Mary was perplexed about this and asked the angel how this would be. The angel’s response was that, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." Upon hearing these words, Mary’s doubt disappeared and only submission appears for with God nothing shall be impossible.
III. Mary Was a Cherished Vessel
Finally, I believe that Mary was chosen to fulfill this divine task, because she was cherished of God. We can know that she was cherished in God’s eyes because of three things. First, she was accepted by God. The angel told Mary in verse 28 that she was "highly favored." The words "highly favored" is translated from the Greek "charitoo" which means "to make accepted." This same Greek word is also translated as "accepted" in Ephesians 1:6 when Paul tells us that we are "accepted in the beloved."
Isn’t that a wonderful feeling to know that because of Jesus’ blood and righteousness that we who are born again are accepted by God. No matter how sinful our past or how many times that we will fail Him, God still accepts us. To those here this morning who are not saved, God will accept you as well if you will come to Him by faith, confessing your sins, and believing on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Secondly, we see that Mary was cherished, because she was affirmed by God. This is interesting to know. The angel tells Mary that she is "blessed...among women." This word "blessed" is translated from the Greek "eulogeo" from which we also receive our English word "eulogy." When one attends a funeral, one might here a eulogy or hear someone being eulogized. When one gives a eulogy, one is speaking well of another. This is what the angel is telling Mary - that God is speaking well of her. In other words, God brags on her in heaven. Wow! What a thought!
Wouldn’t you like to know that God brags on you in heaven? There is another instance in the Bible where God bragged on someone in heaven. Look in Job 1:8. Let’s read what God said to Satan about Job, "Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?" Oh that we would be the kind of individuals that God would brag on in heaven!
Thirdly, I believe that we can see that Mary was cherished of God, because she was assured by God. God was not going to allow her to be without His peace. In verse 30, the angel instructs Mary to "Fear not."
We also can be assured by God that He will be there for us in the most difficult of circumstances. Jesus stated in John 14:16-18, "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you." I am so thankful that I do not have to walk this road alone. God has promised that He would never leave nor forsake me and that by His strength I can do all things.
Mary was pure, prepared, and privileged. What about you? Are you pure? Have you been washed in the blood of Jesus? You cannot be made clean until you come to Him in repentance accepting His sacrifice. Today, you know the purpose. The purpose was to redeem your soul from sin, death, and hell. Jesus Christ accomplished His Father’s purpose on Calvary. There He bore your sins and mine. There He paid the price and was punished for our sins. There He poured His blood out for our washing. There He died so that we can live forever.
Would you stand as we get a song of invitation...