By Jay McCluskey
Pastor, North Cleveland Baptist Church, Cleveland
Focal Passage: Luke 1:26-35
The Scripture today is the event some Christians call “The Annunciation.” This expression means the announcement. To be honest, receiving announcements does not usually generate enthusiasm. Yet Mary received from the Lord an amazing announcement that His role for her life was to be the mother of His son.
God’s announcement changes the ordinary into extraordinary. God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary (vv. 26b-27 NIV).
Who was more ordinary than Mary, a simple, unassuming peasant woman from a nowhere town? We know nothing of her life up to this point except this one thing: In her quiet, unremarkable, day-to-day life, Mary “found favor with God.”
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (v. 28 NIV).
Is this not what is most important in life? Mary was an ordinary person living a good, normal, ordinary life. Still, God calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
God’s announcement changes the comfortable to the discomforting. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be (v. 29 NIV).
The greeting was unnerving enough. But the announcement itself was staggering. “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end” (vv. 31-33 NIV).
You can understand Mary’s reaction to such life changing news. She is young, probably just a teenager. She is unmarried. She had to think through the implications of this news the angel had told her. “Joseph is going to probably leave me. My parents are going to doubt me. The community is going to disgrace me.”
It had to be overwhelming. But often the moments just before God does His most amazing work are times when life is confusing, disturbing, and overwhelming. Like Mary, we often feel overwhelmed just before we are going to be blessed.
We often think of God as our comforter. But sometimes His role is to bring us discomfort. When God announces His plans to do something significant and meaningful in your life, be prepared to have to move out of your comfort zone.
God’s announcement changes the impossible into the possible. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin” (v. 4 NIV)?
A lot has changed since Mary’s day, but biology is still biology! Faith is trusting that somehow God will do what He said He would do even if it seems impossible.
I can believe George Washington was the first president of the United States of America because it is true. But this kind of faith does not change my life. It does not make demands upon me. Unfortunately we treat our faith in this way by saying that if we believe in my head that something is true we have faith. To believe something is true in your head is one thing, but to act as though it is true is another thing altogether. Yet faith incorporates both dynamics.
When God asks something of you, your first reply may be, “But that’s impossible.” Maybe so. But it also is impossible for a virgin to give birth. In reply to Mary’s question the angel shares a simple statement: For “nothing is impossible with God” (v. 37 NIV).
It is not impossible for a virgin to give birth.
It is not impossible for the world to find forgiveness and grace.
Mary trusted that somehow God would take care of those matters, and she believed that what God had said would happen! So, while she did not have a complete understanding of things, she knew who to trust.
Again, this event is called: The Annunciation. The Feast of Annunciation is celebrated March 25 (nine months before Christmas.) It embraces the idea that the Holy Spirit placed the seed of Jesus’ life inside Mary this day, AFTER she said, “May it be to me as you have said.”
Will you say “May it be as you have said?”
— McCluskey is pastor, North Cleveland Baptist Church, Cleveland.