Summary: Mary teaches us to have faith in God’s promises/Word even if it seems impossible.
Who do teenagers look up to the most? Parents, you will be glad to hear that on the surveys I read on the internet this past week, you were on the top of the list. You are their biggest role model, although they probably wouldn’t say that to your face. Unfortunately, by the actions of many youth, it seems they have other role models as well because they are concerned with popularity, looks, having cool stuff, wearing the “in” clothes, and or even having a certain talent. Even though all of these things, and all of the role models change from year to year. The person who was cool and looked up to last year is no longer cool anymore. Someone younger, prettier, more talented comes along.
Other than their parents, I wonder why our kids role models can’t be an ordinary person, who was extraordinary not because of who they are on the outside but because of who they are on the inside.
Ironically, the most popular woman who ever lived, is rarely looked upon as a role model. She was not wealthy. She was probably not beautiful, just an ordinary looking woman (even though Hollywood had to make her look beautiful in the recent movie, “The Nativity Story”). She was probably not well educated (she might have even been illiterate). She was unknown outside of her home town during most of her lifetime. Yet she had an inner beauty that even impressed God! Her inner beauty was so powerful that she was chosen to become the mother of the most important person of all times: God’s own Son, Jesus. Of course we are talking about Mary, and the inner beauty that impressed God and should inspire us as our role model, whether we are teens or adults, was Mary’s faith and obedience to God.
1. God’s favor rests upon those who respond in faith
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he told her she was “highly favored,” or as another translation puts it, she was God’s “favored one.” Mary was favored not just because of what she was about to do in being the mother of Jesus, but because of the life she had already lived so far. We don’t know anything about Mary’s life before this event, but in her short life (13 or 14), she must have already exhibited an extraordinary faith in God because she because God chose her to be the mother of his Son.
What I want us to notice here is that God’s favor came to Mary even though she came from a modest if not poor family. God chose her even though she grew up in a remote region of the world, in a tiny village called Nazareth with only a few hundred people. God favored Mary because of the inner beauty of her faith and obedience. God’s favor is upon those who exhibit faith and obedience.
It doesn’t matter how old you are, whether you are a child, a teen, or an elderly person. Mary was in her teens, the OT patriarch Abraham was in his 70’s when God first called him (75). It doesn’t matter where you come from, you might come from the country, the city, the suburbs. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or what your family life is. It doesn’t matter how much money you make. Looks don’t matter either. The prophecies about Jesus said that he would be rather plain looking (Is 53:2). God looks at our faith.
We talk a lot about faith in the church, but what is faith?
2. Faith Is…
A. Believing that What God Says Will Happen
After the angel visited Mary and told her she would bear God’s Son, she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who herself was pregnant with a boy who would become John the Baptist. Listen to Elizabeth’s response during Mary’s visit with her. Elizabeth said:
NIV Luke 1:45 Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
That is Faith! Faith is believing that what the Lord has said will be accomplished, or that the Lord will do what he said he would do. We have to remember that the angel Gabriel told her something which was totally impossible, first that she would have a son who would be named Jesus. She hadn’t been with Joseph or any other man yet, she was a virgin, so how could she have a child? But the second impossibility was that this child would be the Son of the Most High, the Son of God. How could a human woman bear God’s Son, a divine being? Impossible. This was Mary’s question to Gabriel. Gabriel told her that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of the Most High would overshadow her. Not a lot of details there. Gabriel then reminds us, “With God nothing is impossible.” In other words the angel was telling her God can and would do the impossible if she had faith. And Mary believed. She said, “I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said.”