THREE ENCOURAGING PHRASES

 

 

In the gospel of Luke 1:26-38 we read the account of how the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ to Mary. First of all Mary must have been a very special young woman. She most likely was not unlike other young Jewish girls of her day; she had a desire to be a good wife to the man she was pledged to as well as a looking forward to a family of her own. As many young Jewish girls, a secret desire would be the one to bear the promised Messiah, the liberator of Israel, these things would have been the focus of a young girl in her mid teens in the city of Nazareth. Her character most likely had certain qualities, which made her the right candidate for God・s choice.

Before we get to the three phrases I would like to mention three qualities that stand out in Mary・s character, firstly she was receptive, secondly she was humble, and thirdly she was a servant. With that framework in mind, let us consider the information that the angel Gabriel was conveying to her.  The awkwardness of what was being asked of her would have been monumental in her family and in society around her. A young girl, pledged to marry a man in the near future and here she was told she would bear a child without ever having a relationship with him or any other man! That was a recipe for a social disaster of epic proportions.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to her she was understandably afraid, his first words found in verse 28, were; :you are highly favored! The Lord is with you;. Mary did not understand immediately but as the angel spoke that God was with her it set the stage for her being receptive to what he had to say. As we consider that phrase, have you thought how God shows Himself and speaks to us and tells us that He is with us? When we have an open heart, God is able to reveal His comfort even though the situation may be difficult. Sometimes we embark on new ventures, we do not know how it will turn out; a few years ago I felt the call of God on my life and as I made that decision I remember being at my place of employment, BC Rail, at that time. I sat with my two bosses and told them I had made a life decision to leave my well paid and upward moving job. They informed me how they had plans for me that summer; they reminded me of the good pension, benefits and opportunities that were presenting themselves for me. To go and live by faith was a foreign concept, but deep in my heart I knew the Lord was with me, and as Mary was affirmed by those words to move forward, so could I.

The next phrase that we can look at is found in verse 30. The angel sensing the concern that Mary had, said the words :do not be afraid;. When a young child is afraid of the dark that is often a real fear. All of us have one fear or another in our lives, how we deal with them often depends on our maturity and in sense courage to face them. Mary・s fear was, how would Joseph react? Would she be alone? Would she be cast from her home? These were legitimate fears for a young girl, but God・s love is perfect and as the angel communicated that possibly the words of 1 John 4:18-19 can shed some light on the comfort those words by Gabriel brought. 18 :There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 19 We love because he first loved us.

The third phrase is stated in verse 37 when the angel Gabriel explains to Mary how the Spirit of God will come upon her and she will be with child. The angel mentions how her cousin Elizabeth in her old age is expecting when hope was gone in her life of that ever happening. Gabriel says, :For nothing is impossible with God;. The hope and the possibilities of that truth are endless. The God of Abraham and Isaac, of David and Elijah revealed Himself to a young Jewish girl and gave her hope and joy in the midst of this new and unusual situation she was placed into. Her reaction in verse 38 says it all and reveals to us the character and the obedience that Mary showed as she says :I am the Lord・s servant, May it be to me as you have said;. How are our reactions to the things that God requests of us, are we as Mary ready to be at His service and accepting so we may used to advance and serve in the God・s kingdom.

 

By: David R. Jones