Jim Duggan, Pastor
Bellevue Baptist Church, Macon
It’s been said that courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to do the right thing despite our fear. Mary, the mother of Jesus, demonstrated great courage for her role in God’s plan of redemption.
Embracing God’s plan for us will require us to exercise tremendous courage. Today’s Bible study will show us three anchor points on which we can hang our trust.
The Presence of God
Luke 1: 26-30
“Greetings, favored woman…” The sudden appearance of an angel was not an everyday occurrence and certainly must have startled the young woman. The angel Gabriel immediately seeks to dispel Mary’s fear by declaring her standing in God’s eyes. “Favored” means one who receives grace – unmerited, positive, providential treatment from God.
“The Lord is with you…” Gabriel also sought to allay Mary’s fear with the declaration of God’s presence in this sudden meeting. From our side of the story, we can make the connection between Immanuel of Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:23. Just as Jesus coming to the world would be God with us, so also God was with Mary in what was about to be an amazing adventure of faith.
“Deeply troubled” translates a word that means to be inwardly stirred to the point of shaking. In our contemporary wording we would say she was “shook up.” One could imagine the shock of a sudden appearance of a heavenly being with a personal message!
The angel also reiterated his comforting message in verse 30. He encouraged her to allow the grace of God to replace her fear.
God was about to bring to pass the culminating event of all human history, and he had chosen an unassuming young virgin. She undoubtedly had been planning her exciting future with her betrothed, Joseph. Now, God intervened in such a way as to use their plan for His purpose.
The Plan of God
Luke 1: 31-34
The angel revealed the plan to an already frightened Mary. She would have a child and name Him Jesus. The angel revealed three things that made this child special.
He would be great. Even in His humanity, Jesus would excel. He would accomplish great things. This would be no ordinary child in deed or in character.
He would be called the Son of the Most High. This was a popular name for God in the Old Testament and indicated Jesus’ divinity. He would not be a mere man, He would be the Son of God.
He would sit as Davidic ruler over His Kingdom forever, without end. Kings come and go. They are born to eventually die. But Jesus would take His throne and never relinquish it. Mary was about to give birth to the Ultimate King.
This prophecy from Gabriel harkens back to Isaiah’s prophecy in 9:7, “He will reign on the throne of David… from now on and forever.” As we saw with the announcement to Matthew we also see in the announcement to Mary. Through these two, God was fulfilling prophecies made centuries before.
The coming of Jesus was not mere chance, it was the plan of God set in motion in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:14-15). Now the fullness of time had come (Galatians 4:4).
The Power of God
Understandably, Mary questioned the possibility of God using her since she was a virgin. Her question can be restated by many of us when God begins to lead us to serve Him. God, how can you use me? I don’t have the qualifications. I am not worthy. I can’t, because…
The angel reassured Mary that God did not need human agency to accomplish His plan.
“The power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The word translated overshadow is also used to describe the cloud that encompassed the Tabernacle as God’s people wondered through the wilderness (Exodus 40:35). The overshadowing cloud represented the presence of God.
For Mary, the presence of God would bring the power of God to bear and accomplish His purpose. The angel does not mention how the conception would take place and one need not try to force some idea of divine begetting here. However, it is most important to note that when God has a plan to do something, He also has more than enough power to accomplish it.
Mary’s Courageous Response
May Mary’s response also be ours when God calls upon us, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me according to your word.”