Summary: Mary's response to Gabriel's message is surprising. The message is unexpectedly encouraging, yet the Bible says she was deeply troubled. Are there times when God gives us good news but we don't treat it like good news?
THE ANGEL'S MESSAGE: Gabriel’s message was unexpectedly encouraging yet troubling to Mary.
- Luke 1:28-29.
- The message and the response don’t immediately line up. Let’s start with the response: v. 29 tells us that Mary was greatly troubled. Given that response, you would presume that the message she was given by the angel was a bad one. Yet the opposite is the case: Gabriel had told her that she was highly favored and that God was with her.
- Which raises the question: why did that trouble her? We want to look into this tension this morning and consider whether we do the same things.
SAFE, PREDICTABLE RELIGION: Things that shake our expectations leave us unsettled.
- Let’s try to figure out why Mary’s response doesn’t seem to dovetail with the angel’s message. I think the starting point for the biggest reason has to do with our expectations.
- Most of us like a safe, predictable religion. Sure, we might admire great missionaries or people of blazing faith. We like stories about that, but we’re not quite as excited about it happening in our lives.
- When we pray for our family, we pray a whole lot more for God to keep them safe than for God to use them powerfully for the kingdom of God.
- When it looks like God is opening up an opportunity for us to serve, are we excited at the open door or annoyed at the intrusion to our already-busy schedule?
- When God allows something in our lives that throws our set plans off, are we curious to see what He’s up to or perturbed that we have to move things around?
- A big part of the way most of us want God in our lives can be summarized in two words: insurance policy.
- We want God to protect us from really bad stuff.
- We want God to talk to when we’re feeling overwhelmed.
- We want God to make us feel safe in the face of death.
- We want God to keep everything on track.
- In sum, we want a safe, predictable religion.
- This is a far cry from a God whose goal is to transform the world.
- This is a far cry from a mission to reach people in the darkest corners of society.
- This is a far cry from a servant always ready to heed the master’s call.
- This is a far cry from someone who prizes God’s will above all.
- We all know the type of person that Mary was. After all, Gabriel says she’s “highly favored.” Yet even she responds to this message with a troubled heart.
- Most of us don’t embrace the unexpected very well. Again, we like the safe and predictable.
- Of course, Mary has her uncertainties and questions, but by v. 38 she makes the faithful declaration that she is the “the Lord’s servant.” That’s a pretty quick turnaround.
- What about us? Do we step up or step back?
- Often what God is saying to us to incredible and impressive. It’s something that you would think we would embrace with both arms. But we don’t. Maybe we think God’s promises are too good to be real. Maybe we just like our safety and security more.
- In either event, there are times today when God’s message to us, like His message to Mary, is unexpectedly encouraging and yet it leaves us troubled rather than excited.
- I want to look at a few examples this morning.
- What are ways that God speaks something great to us and our response doesn’t embrace that as Mary does?
- What are ways that we act like what God is offering is too good to be real?
EXAMPLES OF US IN A SIMILAR SPOT TODAY:
1. “You can be forgiven of your sins.”
- We believe that Jesus died on the cross in order to forgive us of our sins. He took our sin upon Himself. It was an act of incredible compassion and love.
- There are a number of reasons that people will not receive that forgiveness into their lives. The one that’s relevant to our discussion this morning is a major one: “You don’t know what I’ve done.”
- There are many people who respond to the offer of forgiveness from Jesus not with joy but with disbelief. They know they’re too bad to get it.
- We said that Gabriel’s message was unexpectedly encouraging yet troubling to Mary. We see something similar here.
- The idea that a sinner can be forgiven is clearly unexpectedly encouraging. As a sinner, we deserve punishment. As a sinner, we deserve condemnation. As a sinner, we deserve justice.