Focal Passage: Luke 1:26-38
Satan uses two tools to stymie God’s people: fear and discouragement. Fear causes a person to pause out of cowardice, while discouragement paralyzes us in inaction. Together these twin temptations can prove to be deadly to a person’s faith, producing faithless lethargy. In Mary’s story we see one of these sinister sins at work: fear. Yet, Mary confronts her fear with humble submission to God.
Don’t be afraid of the unknown (Luke 1:26-29). Numerous times throughout Matthew and Luke’s birth narratives the injunction, “fear not,” is commanded. Zachariah, Joseph, Mary and the shepherds are all instructed not to be afraid. It is understandable why Mary could have possibly succumbed to fear — an angel of God announced to her that she would give birth to the Son of God without the agency of a man. Such an announcement would frighten anyone.
Fear of the unknown is key. Why the angel? Why her? Why now? And how is it possible to have a baby without the intimate agency of a husband? Yet, Mary found favor with God. This means that even when we face the unknown the God who knows all things knows us and will guide us.
Don’t fear God’s plan (Luke 1:30-33). We all want to know God’s plan for our lives so long as we get to plan it and God simply signs off on what we have already planned. But this is not the way God operates. Nor does it require faith of any kind.
After the angel announced God’s plans to Mary and she responded with an initial season of trepidation, the angel told her not to be afraid. Further, the angel of God laid out in detail God’s plan for and through her.
The angel’s words must have been a stunner to Mary, Luke 1: her son would be: (1) miraculously born, (2) be assigned the name Jesus which means “to save,” (3) be called the Son of the Most High (God), (4) would fulfill the prophecy that the Davidic throne would never be emptied (King), (5) He would reign over Israel (have a people) and that (6) her son’s kingdom would never end.
In other words, Jesus would be the Savior, God-King wrapped in human flesh that would reign over His people, both Jew and Gentile, a kingdom that would never end. This is enough to take your breath away.
Don’t fear the impossible (Luke 1:34-38). Mary’s trepid response was to inquire how such a birth would take place. God explained to her that the Holy Spirit would enable her to conceive a son. Further, her older relative, Elizabeth, had unexpectedly become pregnant with the son we now know as John the Baptist.
One young lady conceives a child without the intimate agency of a husband, while one older lady past childbearing years conceives a son by her husband Zechariah — neither pregnancies should have been possible. Yet, as the angel declared, “nothing will be impossible with God” (v. 37).
And how does Mary respond? Her answer needs to be quoted, “See, I am the Lord’s servant. … May it happen to me as you have said” (v. 38). Would to God that when God makes clear His plan for us that we would respond with this kind of humble submission — your will be done in me. B&R