Summary: How devoted to Christ are you? Christ’s call to discipleship is one of sacrificial devotionThe lives of Mary, Abraham and Paul provide us with examples of what it means to be sacrificially devoted to God.
In Luke 14:33, Christ declared, “Whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.” Christ’s call to discipleship is one of sacrificial devotion. Is your commitment to Christ only token or completely total commitment? If Christ called on you to give up everything you treasured or to go through extreme hardship or difficulty how would you respond? How committed would you remain? Truthfully, how devoted to Christ are you? The lives of Mary, Abraham and Paul provide us with examples of what it means to be sacrificially devoted to God.
I. The example of Mary’s sacrificial devotion to God.
A. Mary was an ordinary Jewish girl when the angel came to her.
B. Jewish girls lived under their father's authority were taught to protect their father's honor. In public, young women were to dress according to their social standing, behave according to good manners, and spoke to men only when spoken to. A Jewish woman's words didn't count - everything had to be supported by male witnesses. Every day, the Jewish man thanked God that he had not been born a Gentile, a slave or a woman. Women received little education and were not taught the Law of God. In public, they were veiled; an uncovered head could result in divorce. Their social relationships were confined to other women. They did not eat with male guests, and men were discouraged from talking to women. When they left the house to go shopping, they were usually accompanied by a suitable companion to protect her husband's name from mistakes they might make. At puberty, daughters were expected to marry, and suitable husbands were found by the parents. Daughters had no choice in this, otherwise they would bring shame on the family. Marriage age was low -- 18-24 years for the man, 13-16 years for the girl. It was a patriarchal society which placed women in the same category as one's ox, donkey or possessions. Mary was engaged to Joseph, the contract probably being arranged by their fathers and finalized in a public ceremony in the town square. If the husband-to-be wanted to break the betrothal, he had to get a bill of divorce. – adapted from George Hawke, Grace & Truth Magazine, Danville , IL, USA
C. Mary is confronted by an angel who makes a startling announcement.
D. Luke 1:30-33 ““Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
E. This creates a great dilemma.
F. Luke 1:34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
G. Consider the situation with which Mary was confronted. To be pregnant outside of marriage was disgraceful. To be pregnant while engaged was scandalous. If suspected of unfaithfulness a woman could be divorced or even put to death as spelled out in Deuteronomy 22:13-30.
1. There would be the loss of reputation
2. There was the great fear of rejection. Mary might not be believed by her fiancé.
3. She faced ostracism by and expulsion from her family.
4. She stood the chance of losing all of her friends who would not want to be associated with a loose woman.
5. Realistically, she could be branded for life with the stigma of being an unwed mother and her child considered illegitimate.
H. But how would she respond? What would her answer be?
1. Luke 1:38 "I am the Lord's servant, may it be to me as you have said"
2. Mary says, “Behold, I am the bondservant of the Lord”. Mary calls herself a slave, the Lord’s “doulos”. Humbly she yields herself before God and then yields completely to God saying, “let it be to me according to your word”
I. Mary did not understand all that God was doing in her life and through her life but she knew that what God said He would do, He would do. Mary was willing to let God have His way completely with her and in her humble obedience became an important part of the fulfillment of God’s purpose to save humanity through the cross of Christ. – copied
II. The Example of Abraham’s sacrificial devotion to God.
A. Genesis 22:1-2 “And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.”