Today Pastor Choi talks about Mary the mother of Jesus: how willing she was to work with God who asked her to do something beyond her own strength. Besides the assurance to Joseph that it was alright to take her as his wife, Mary was not given any other special protections from God. Yet, she persevered and became a part of God’s eternal salvation work for humanity. May God help us to be like Mary who willingly said to the Lord’s invitation, “Here I am, Lord. Let your will be done in my life.”
Following is a summary of his sermon today:
Here I Am, Lord Luke 1:26-38
- The Birth of Jesus Foretold
- 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
- 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
- 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
- 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
- 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
I invite you to join me in listening to the author and what he is trying to tell us in the story.
- First, here’s a brief recap of the story: In this narrative the birth of Jesus the Messiah was foretold. 2000 years ago, God sent His chief-of-staff, Gabriel the angel, to Mary a young lady who was engaged to Joseph. She and Joseph resided in Nazareth, a small town in Galilee with less than 500 residents at that time (James Strange). [In 1918, 8000 people. In 2011, 80,410. 60% Arabs and 40% Christians—wikipedia]. The angel told Mary that by God’s power, not by man, she would conceive a boy child. Her son Jesus would be called the son of the Most High and He would reign over Israel forever.
- One of the best ways to listen to the author is to put ourselves in the main character’s shoes: that is, in Mary’s shoes. Had you been Mary, how would you have felt and reacted to this awesome visit from an angel?
- Think of Mary for a while. She was God’s highly favored one. She had found favor with God. The Lord was with her and she was a blessed woman chosen to work with God. This is what God was going to do for her, the angel said: she would conceive a child extraordinary without knowing a man. Her child would be called the son of the Most High. He would be called holy son of God. He would forever reign over the house of David and His kingdom would never end.
- That’s so great, isn’t it? So far so good.Contents
- Then, after the angel left, fears for the future began to set in her heart. She might have reasoned in her heart as follows: “It’s amazing that God has chosen me to work with Him. I am truly blessed. Now, how am I going to break the news to Joseph my fiancé? I know he is a good man, but will he believe me? Getting pregnant by God’s power? What’s going to happen to me if he doesn’t and breaks the engagement? How am I going to explain to my family and friends? Who’s going to believe my story about the pregnancy? I’d better hide from people for the entire nine months of pregnancy. If not, how will I cover my belly for several months since it will show to every one? Everyone will eventually find out about my pregnancy. Oh, how will I endure the cold stares and unfriendly gossip from townsfolk afterwards? I will be lucky if I am not pelted with stones. Furthermore, how will my child endure the town gossip? (Indeed, in later life, Mary and Jesus endured a persistent and malicious rumor that called Jesus “Mary’s son (not Joseph’s)—understood at that time as illegitimate child”).
- As you can see here in Mary’s story, being favored by God doesn’t always mean that everything in life will be rosy. In fact, being chosen to work with God and for God never means an easy road. On the contrary, sometimes it means very painful and uncomfortable experiences. A narrow and rugged road, if you will. For a long time, too. In fact, the greater God’s plan for you, the harder the road is that only a few choose to take this road. Yet, the reward is great! God’s call is always worth saying yes to. That was the path that Mary chose to follow.
- Think of Mary again. God already knew everything Mary would face or what she would go through in the years to come. Yet, He went ahead with His plan. A reminder here: no special provisions or protections were promised to Mary except His presence with her: except the fact that He sent the same angel Gabriel to Joseph, Mary’s future husband, to assure him that her pregnancy was from God’s Spirit, not from man. “This is happening according to God’s salvation plan,” the angel assured Joseph. “Therefore, take her as your wife (Matthew 1:20-21).”
- That’s all God had done for Mary. God provided no other special protections for her. What’s that mean for us? Sometimes, when God calls us to work with Him, He provides us with one or two promises or assurances about His plan. The rest, we must endure with patience and trust in the Lord clinging to His faithfulness until its fulfillment. We ought not to despair. We should not give up, because the Lord is with us and He will see us through. His grace and presence are sufficient for us to go on with God’s mission.
- By the way, I love the way Mary responded to God’s call in verse 38: here I am, Lord. I am the Lord’s servant. Let your will be done. God never forces anyone to follow His will against his/her wish. Anyone can say no to God’s invitation to work with Him. God only works with those who say a willing yes to His call. My prayer for all of us is that when we are invited to work with Him we too respond to His call with a willing heart saying, “Here I am, Lord. Use me according to your will.”
- One more thing: Note here how God communicates with His people: For Mary: it was an angel. Not just an ordinary angel but His Chief-of-Staff. It demonstrates the extreme significance of the case, because it was a water-shed event in human history. Christ’s birth divided the human history in two periods: B.C. and A.D.
- In the past, God used prophets to convey His messages for His people.
- He still uses prophets, angels, dreams, and visions to communicate with us. However, the most reliable and secure way that God uses today to reveal Himself to His people is His written Word the Bible. In the Bible, God meets us and reveals Himself to us. In the Scripture, God points us to the directions we need to go. The Bible is the meeting place. Devotion time is our time with God. That’s why it is crucial for us to get into the Bible daily. E.g. every morning God speaks to me in daily devotion reminding me of His will in my life. The other day’s message to me was “Walk in the light as God is in the light (1 John 1:7).” This is how He sends His message to His children every day.
- Folks, don’t be naïve and neglect this opportunity to meet with God. Too many of God’s people never meet with God because they never search God in the Bible. Yet, somehow they expect God to speak to them. They never discover God’s will for them. Therefore, they live out their lives according to their own will, not God’s and often end up living a life with no eternal perspective.Closing
- The Almighty God has a plan for you. You are not an accident. Nothing is a coincidence with God. You may not plan to be at a certain place at a certain time, but if God has called you to be there, He will arrange it accordingly, and it will happen (E.g. meeting a lady at dentist office). As God has chosen Mary to be the instrument of His plan of salvation, God also has a purpose for you. God wants you to be a part of His plan. The part you alone can fulfill. This morning He invites you to work with Him. His plan for you may not be as drastic as Mary’s, yet He still waits for your answer.
- Are you ready to say yes to His call? Are you willing to take a narrow path for God? Are you willing to suffer on behalf of Jesus the Lord? If you do, the reward will be great and eternal. You will never regret it.
- Let us pray.