Summary: Some are hailing the new vaccine for the Coronavirus the greatest news ever! But is this really true? What is truly the Greatest News Ever is the ultimate gift of Christmas!
The Greatest News Ever
A very significant event for the world took place this last week. At 6:31 a.m. on Tuesday, December 8th the very first government-approved dose of the Covid-19 Vaccine in the free world was administered. A nurse rolled up the sleeve of a retired 90-year-old retired shopkeeper from Ireland by the name of Maggie Keenan, and gave her the first shot of Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine at University Hospital Coventry in England.
Asked for her reaction, Keenan replied that she was encouraging everyone to “Go for it. Because it’s the best news ever.”
Now perhaps we can forgive her for a little exaggeration at the moment. After all the Covid-19 Pandemic has killed 1.5 million people in the course of 2020 and has changed the lives of nearly every person on the planet as it has raged through the world’s population.
But let’s think a little more carefully here. Is it really the best news ever that there’s a vaccine that will prevent people from potentially dying somewhat prematurely? In Maggie’s case she may have another 10 to 12 years of life at best, even with the help of the vaccine.
The current plague tends to cause us to forget is that there is still another even greater, even more universal plague—it’s called death. And it’s really strange at this time of year, in this Christmas season, that a vaccine that temporarily puts off death should begin to overshadow in some respect the real best news ever. And that is that there is essentially a vaccine against death, a Savior which has been born, who saves us from our sins and death.
So we’re going to review the Christmas story—this time by examining how the response of one of the first people to receive the best news ever, Mary, Jesus’ mother, and the example she sets for how we should respond: She received it humbly, believed it fully and shared it joyfully. And so should we.
Luke’s account of the Good News of Jesus Christ actually begins with the miraculous birth of John the Baptist, Jesus’ forerunner. His coming birth had just been revealed to Zechariah and Elizabeth, in their old age, and Elizabeth is now in her sixth month of pregnancy when the Angel Gabriel makes his visit to the virgin, Mary, who is thought to have been about 15 or 16 years old at the time. The visit takes place in the town of Nazareth in Galilee, and Mary is engaged to be married. Both, as Scripture tells us, were descendants of David, of the tribe of Judah, a fulfillment ultimately of prophecy with regard to the very family who would bear the Jewish Messiah and coming King.
As some of you no doubt know, there was considerable speculation at the timethat the Messiah’s coming might be near. Prophecies which we have studied in the Book of Daniel, chapter nine, placed His coming at right about this time in history. And one of the great honors that were desired by many young women in Jesus’ time was that the incredible promise of Isaiah 7:13-14 might be fulfilled within one of them—that they might be the virgin who was with child and whose name would be “Immanuel” which means God with us.
The kind of person whom God chose to bear the Messiah tells us a lot about the kind of person who will likely be blessed by the greatest news ever. It’s the kind of person that the Virgin Mary of Nazareth epitomized. She was a humble young lady, as she puts it, a bond-servant of the Lord. She was willing to do anything the Lord asked of her.
There are at least three indications in this passage that show just how humble this Mary really was.
First, verses 28-29 show us just how innocent and unassuming she was. She was not the sort to expect anything great was going to happen for her, that she deserved something special. She was entirely innocent as the Angel Gabriel approaches her with his amazing greeting. In verse 28, he approaches her with “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you!”
Now such a greeting ought to cause us to ask why Mary was so favored by the Lord. What was it about her that caused her to be the one He selected for this very honored task—to be the mother of His only begotten Son?
It’s reflected in her response. Again, innocent and unassuming, verse 29 tells us “she was very perplexed at this statement and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.” She seems totally unaware that there’s anything very special about herself and wonders why she would be the recipient of such a blessed sort of greeting from an angel.
Some of the godliest people I know are like this—unaware of just how special they are. They are truly humble. So clearly, Mary wasn’t expecting that she would be the Lord’s chosen one to bear the Savior.