Dear friends, Merry Christmas. I pray that as you have read these words, you are brought back to the miracle of Christ’s birth, the miracle of the fact that He has come with the sole purpose of saving us from sin (Luke 19:10), and the miracle of the fact that God Himself speaks to us. There is much we can learn from Mary, Jesus’ mother, but I have been struck in recent days by her conversation with the angel when he came to announce Christ Jesus’ coming. This passage is a wonderful example of God, coming to one He has chosen and laying at her feet the plans that He has for her. Let’s look at this passage, verse by verse, to see what we can learn from Mary’s conversation with the angel and how we can apply it to our lives.
Luke 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
God has sent the angel to talk to Mary. For this announcement, He chose to send an angel, but He speaks to us each day. God speaks to us through His Word, through those people He places in our lives, and through that still small voice in each of our hearts (I Kings 9:12). God is always speaking, our job is to be in a place where we can hear Him. When the angel came to Mary, he told her that she was highly favoured. Mary was as holy and righteous as she should be, or God would never have chosen her to bear His Son. And because she lived rightly and was a faithful woman who understood who God was, she was in a place where she was able to hear Him when He called.
Luke 1:29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be .
Initially Mary did what many of us do when we hear God begin to speak to us. She heard His voice, and she immediately began to try to figure it out. She “cast in her mind” what she had heard, trying to figure out what it could possibly mean. Though Mary was a faithful, godly, and holy woman, she, like so many of us, possibly wasn’t expecting to hear from God at that moment. And when she did, she immediately tried to place what she was hearing into a realm she could understand, so she “cast in her mind”, looking for a place within her understanding where she could place God speaking to her. How often are we surprised when God speaks to us? And when He does, what is our reaction? We try to figure out what it means, instead of trusting and waiting for Him to keep talking.
Luke 1:30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God .
God always keeps speaking. God spoke to Mary and then He kept speaking. He didn’t tell her on one day that she was important in His eyes and then come back weeks later to tell her that she would be Christ’s mother. No, He began to speak to her and then kept speaking. And in this verse, He told her not to be afraid. God continued to speak, but what was of the utmost importance, was that Mary was such a holy and righteous woman that there was nothing between her and God to keep her from hearing Him. When we hear God speak and try to figure it out ourselves, it is because we do not trust Him and we are afraid. And yet, if we just trust and keep our hearts calm before Him, He will explain to us what He is trying to tell us.
Luke 1:31- 33 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end .
See, God continued to speak. After telling Mary not to be afraid, He gives her the details. If we refrain from trying to figure out everything when God speaks to us, He will give us all the details, we need to just trust. If we look at this for just a minute, look at how He lays this out. God has told Mary the who (Mary), the what (will bear His Son), the when (in 9 months). And He doesn’t just leave it there.
Luke 1:34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man ?
Mary, now getting the hang of this, doesn’t try to figure out how this is going to happen on her own, instead she asks Him how it will work. God tells us in Jeremiah 33:3 ” Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not .” God will give us all the details and the explanations, if we but ask. ” Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you ” (Matthew 7:7).
Luke 1:35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God .
And here are the details. The Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive. God has now told Mary the who, what, when, and how. He made the “why” very clear earlier in the passage – she was a woman most favoured, and it was time for the Messiah to come into the world ” to seek and to save that which were lost ” (Luke 19:10).
Luke 1:36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren .
And then what does God do? Lest Mary begin to doubt, He gives her some more evidence of His greatness. He tells her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was barren, was going to have a child. God not only explains to her all that she needs to know, but He shows her the many ways that He is faithful. We have evidence of this all throughout His Word. Whenever we begin to doubt, we can pick up His Word and see that He is a God who works in people’s lives. He is no “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34), so if He worked in Elizabeth’s life, He will work in mine. The key here, again, is to be in a place, like Mary was, where we can hear His voice and receive His blessings.
Luke 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible .
And then we have the big finale. After explaining to Mary all that was going to happen, bringing her to a place where she could trust Him and all He was saying, God makes the statement that ” with God nothing shall be impossible” . Oh what a truth! With Christ, we can do all things (Philippians 4:13). Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Lest we ever doubt His plans for us, this simple truth should remind us that as long as we have Him, nothing is impossible.
Luke 1:38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her .
And then we see Mary submitting to God, telling Him, I hear You, I believe in what you’ve said, I’m your handmaid, I’ll do what You ask. Mary knew Her God well and knew that what He wanted for her was the absolute best for her. She knew that He had ” plans for her ” (Jeremiah 29:11) and that His plans were best.
Luke 1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda ;
And then I think we see the greatest lesson Mary teaches us in this whole passage. What does Mary do next? Does she sit around and wait to make sure that she is really going to bear a child and then go to visit her cousin Elizabeth to make sure that she is really pregnant, too? No. She believes God and takes Him at His word. As soon as she hears from Him, she just gets up and goes on faith, believing in what He has said.
What is God speaking to you about today? What is He asking you to do? Are you in a place where you can hear His voice when He speaks? What do you need to rid your life of so that you can hear Him when He calls? My friends, remember when God speaks, believe that He has all the details worked out, that He will tell you all the details, and then get up and do it. Get going and walk on faith. ” For without faith it is impossible to please Him ” (Hebrews 11:6)