The Most Important Message We've Ever Delivered
I was summoned for a mission to visit a country girl in her early teens, “There is a young woman to whom you must give this message,” I was told. “It is the most important announcement we have ever made. The future of the world hangs on it.”
When I heard the message I was to give this girl, I was the one who couldn’t speak. I could hardly take it in. The truth is I still can’t. If you had seen His glory as I did, if you knew Him as I do, you would have been staggered too.
The day I visited Nazareth
I took down the details and off I went, not to Jerusalem, not to the temple, not to a daughter of Caiaphas the High Priest, but to a peasant girl in a despised town called Nazareth. Why she was chosen, I cannot say. God’s choices are as inscrutable as they are glorious. All I can tell you is that He has the right to choose.
Her name was Mary and she was a virgin. She was already pledged to be married to Joseph, who was a direct descendant in the line of David. Their marriage was planned, but it had not yet taken place.
When I appeared, I gave her my warmest greeting, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). I don’t know who was more afraid—she of what was happening, or me as to how she might respond. What would I do if she screamed and ran away?
It was obvious to me that she was a woman of great faith. And she seemed to sense that I had come as a messenger from the Lord. I saw how troubled she was so I said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).
I’ve noticed with humans that when God comes close, your first instinct is fear. You assume that when God comes near it means you are in trouble. No human conscience is completely clear before God, so your first instinct is to be more comfortable with God at a distance. I guess that’s what Mary was thinking too.
That’s why I said to her, “You have found favor with God.” “Favor” means grace. You have been graced by God—that’s what I told her. And it wasn’t just her—its you as well. The whole human race has been graced by God (Titus 2:11). The only question is how you will respond to the grace of God in Jesus.
Then I gave her the message
“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.” Luke 1:32
I paused and wondered what she would say. It seemed as if time stood still, just as it does in eternity.
Then she spoke: “How will this be,” she asked, “since I am a virgin?”
Then I realized she hadn’t grasped what I was saying. She thought I meant that she and her future husband would have a son who would turn out to be one of the great figures of human history. But since she was not yet married, that was not yet possible.
So I tried to explain. It wasn’t easy to find words to express the greatest mystery your world, or ours, has ever known, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” I said. And the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So, the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God” (1:35).
How the Light and the Life of heaven could take your human form and be born into the world as a helpless child is beyond what even angels can understand. It is a mystery to me as it will be to you, but it happened. All I can tell you is what I told Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
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This LifeKey is based on the message “Gabriel’s Story,” by Pastor Colin S. Smith on December 18, 2005, from the series “Christmas Stories.” Colin currently serves as Senior Pastor of the The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He is committed to preaching the Bible in a way that nourishes the soul by directing attention to Jesus Christ.