Updated, Sunday, September 20, 2015

Do you remember Zechariah and Elizabeth, a couple disappointed by life because they couldn’t have kids, find out from God’s angel that God was going to bless them with a baby (John the Baptist)? Now as we look at the story of Jesus through the Gospel According to Luke, the third book of the New Testament, we see a similar story. The angel Gabriel is making another birth announcement, but this time he’s talking to Mary.

In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came to her and said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you.” But she was deeply troubled by this statement, wondering what kind of greeting this could be. Then the angel told her: Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

What a way to kick off your morning. You’ve just poured yourself a nice hot cup of coffee, when all of a sudden an angel appears before you. Notice at the very beginning that Luke, in only one sentence, is giving us a ton of information about the story and everything that plays a part of the backdrop of the story.

1. The woman is a virgin.
2. Joseph is of the house of David.

People have argued about the virgin birth since the time of Christ, and I don’t expect this post to put the argument to rest. There comes a point where you accept or reject the Bible as a matter of faith. I believe in God. I believe that God intervenes in human history and does crazy-spectacular things no one else could ever do. Sometimes we call these things miracles.

Is it normal for a virgin to conceive without the help of a man? No, it is not. But God is a God of impossibilities, and so I take it on faith that this is how God brought it to be. Luke believes it, for he references Mary as a virgin a couple times right off the bat. Mary proclaims it later in the story. It is affirmation of what the prophet Isaiah said LONG before Gabriel showed up in Mary’s living room:

Isaiah said, “Listen, house of David! Is it not enough for you to try the patience of men? Will you also try the patience of my God? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel.

-Isaiah 7:13-14

The whole point being that this pregnancy and birth go beyond the scope of “normal”—this is a divine act, and the baby is going to be far beyond the scope of “normal.”

And, like Isaiah, Luke makes reference to the house of David. Luke is letting us, his readers, know that there is a royal bloodline at play here. It’s a sign that the baby is the true heir to the throne (think about every movie or tv show you’ve ever seen about kings and bloodlines – same thing here). So Gabriel continues:

Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will have no end.

Can you hear the regal language oozing out here?
– He will be great
– called Son of the Most High
– throne of his father David
– reign over the house of Jacob forever
– kingdom will have no end

It’s a pretty impressive resume for a baby who hasn’t even been born yet.

Now put yourself in Mary’s shoes. How would you respond? When I picture her this is what I see:
eye-roll

She even asks the angel:

“How can this be, since I have not been intimate with a man?”

God is asking something huge of Mary – he’s asking her to take on the stigma of a pre-married pregnancy and everything that comes with it. In our time and culture we don’t quite grasp that stigma as strongly as it would have been present for people in the Ancient Middle East.

But Gabriel is undaunted.

The angel replied to her: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. And consider your relative Elizabeth—even she has conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called childless. For nothing will be impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

We’re ending the message today with the Lord’s Prayer. Even in the comfort of your own home (or wherever you’re viewing this), read it out loud as we pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.
Amen.

We’re going to have some reflection and response time. We have two songs that connect thematically with what we’ve been talking about. Think about the message and focus on the words of the songs.

Our first song is called Forever Reign. Like Gabriel told Mary, he will reign over the house of Jacob (Israel) forever. The bridge declares ~

Nothing compares to Your great name
Light of the world, forever reign

As you listen, think about what it means for a king to reign. What kind of authority does that king have? What would Jesus’ authority look like if you allowed him to reign in your life?

Ask yourself, “Can I surrender to Jesus’ reign and kingship?”

Let’s worship…

The kingship of Jesus and his reign really comes down to a question of faith on our part. We can live our whole lives without acknowledging his reign. As I said earlier, we receive the Bible and the stories of Jesus as an element of faith. My hope and prayer is that you are open to this kind of faith.

Our second song this morning deals with that theme and says:

Give me faith to trust what you say…

Let’s worship…

For Reflection

– Have I surrendered to the reign of Jesus in my own life?
– If God works through the common and ordinary, how can he work through me?
– Have I missed seeing God work because I’ve been looking for the spectacular instead of the ordinary?

Making It Real

– This week, make a point of looking for “God moments” in the mundane and ordinary. Perhaps it’s watching the sun set. Maybe it’s a chance to help someone at the supermarket. You can be used by God if you will make yourself available!
– At the end of the week share your God moments with us here on the site or on our page at Facebook!

If you’ve been blessed by Chaplain Linzey’s ministry, please consider donating to The Church Plant by clicking here.

Photo by Svein Halvor Halvorsen via Flickr