Stephen Caswell © 1999
Grace Of God, Better Than Instructions
Pastor Clifford S. Stewart of Louisville, Kentucky, sent his parents a microwave oven one Christmas. Here's how he recalls the experience: " They were excited that now they, too, could be a part of the instant generation. When Dad unpacked the microwave and plugged it in, literally within seconds, the microwave transformed two smiles into frowns! Even after reading the directions, they couldn't make it work. Two days later, my mother was playing bridge with a friend and confessed her inability to get that microwave oven even to boil water. ' To get this darn thing to work,' she exclaimed, 'I really don't need better directions; I just needed my son to come along with the gift!' " When God gave the gift of salvation, he didn't send a booklet of complicated instructions for us to figure out; he sent his Son.
Over the last few weeks we have seen the commitment of Daniel and his three friends. But since Christmas is quickly coming around I felt we should take a break from this. So today we will look at the announcement of the good news to Mary by the angel Gabriel. In fact Gabriel is referred to by many commentators as the advent angel. He was sent with the good news of the Messiah to Daniel in Daniel chapter 9. Today we see his ministry in Luke's gospel. He is God's divine messenger sent to reveal divine mysteries. He brought the news of God's grace to man. In the previous verses Gabriel appeared unto Zacharias to announce the birth of John the Baptist. Here the Lord sent him to Nazareth in Galilee. Gabriel's name means God is powerful and man of God. Luke 1:19 tells us that he stands in the very presence of God. He knew first hand the power of God. He witnessed God's power continually as he saw the Lord reign on the throne.
Luke 1:26-27 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
In today's passage there are three main points we will observe.
I. Gabriel's Greeting - Rejoice - highly favored one.
II. Gabriel's Good News - Behold - You will bear the Messiah
III. Gabriel's Great God - Behold - Elisabeth is having a son
I. Gabriel's Greeting - Rejoice - highly favored one.
a. Gabriel's Request - Rejoice - God's grace
Luke 1:28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” After Gabriel appeared to Mary, he conveyed a greeting from the Lord. He called her highly favored one. The words highly favored mean to be an object of gracious visitation. To receive God's grace, unmerited favor. Literally to begrace someone. He told her that the Lord was with her.
Then, Gabriel commanded Mary to rejoice because God had freely her His grace. This word is only used one other time in the New testament. Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. Now, God has showered His grace upon all men. God poured out His grace on Mary with the result that she would remain highly favored. This is why Gabriel commanded her to rejoice in the Lord. She truly was blessed among all women! Mary did in fact rejoice afterward when she understood. Read Luke 1:46-55.
Grace, Our Ticket to Heaven
Billy Graham said on an interview on Australian television, "I know I'm going to heaven, not because of what I've done but because of what Christ has done for me." And the agnostic master of ceremonies of the program was so stunned by this, he went out in the streets and started asking people, "Do you know that you're going to heaven?" This agnostic became a street evangelist by just asking the question and making people think about it.
b. Mary's Response - Troubled Heart
Luke 1:29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. How did Mary respond to the Gabriel's greeting? Did she rejoice? No, she was troubled in her heart, perhaps a little fearful. Why should God be so kind to her? After all she was just a poor young Jewish virgin engaged to a poor Jewish man. She didn't think she was very special. In fact the people of Judah despised anyone from Galilee and Nazareth was a very disdained. Why would God consider her worthy of receiving His favor, His grace? Mary felt unworthy of God's grace. So she was troubled and wondered what this all meant.
c. Gabriel's Reply - Fear Not - God's Grace
1:30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Gabriel saw her amazement and encouraged her further. He commanded her not to fear. He explained further that she had found favor with God. The word favor is cari" which we usually translate grace in the New Testament. Mary had received God's grace, His unmerited favor. Therefore she should rejoice. It didn't matter that Mary was poor, living in a town that was detested by the well to do people of society. God chose to give her His grace. God's grace is never earned or received because of our actions. It is given out of His abundant love.
Grace In A Bible College Exam
At Bible College I learned a lesson about God's grace. The class was given two tests in a course called, " Bible Study Methods." We received our tests back a couple of weeks later in class. Then the lecturer said to the class you can receive either the mark on your paper or 100% for this exam. If you write down I accept 100% for this test by grace and sign it that day, you would get it. I had 17 out of 20. I took the 100% by grace. Some students didn't, they felt they didn't earn it or deserve it. But that's what grace is, unmerited favor. No one deserves God's grace. But God gives it freely to all who will receive it. Mary received God's grace, His unmerited favor.
God has proclaimed His good news to man. He saves sinners by grace. Do you feel you are unworthy of God's grace? You may believe that you are a nobody. That you will never amount to anything. Do you think that you are beyond God's salvation? Mary was a poor Jewish virgin despised by the rich and religious people of her day. Yet to God she was important. She received God's abundant grace and experienced the Lord's presence. We all need God's grace. And God gives it to all who will come to Him. Are you afraid of the Lord? The good news is that He wants to save you. Will you receive His word today? Will you accept His gracious offer?
After receiving Gabriel's Greeting, Mary received:
II. Gabriel's Good News - Behold - You will bear the Messiah
a. Gabriel's Revelation - Behold, You will bear the Messiah
Luke 1:31-33 "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
The angel Gabriel now shared the Good News he had brought from heaven. Mary would conceive and give birth to the long awaited Messiah. Mary couldn't miss the words used to describe this wonderful baby. The Son of the Highest who would rule from David's throne. This was foretold in 2 Samuel 7:16. In Biblical times a man's son was considered to be equal to himself. Mary's boy child would be the Son of God. He would rule over the house of Jacob, the Israelite nation. His kingdom would have no end. She must have been amazed to know that God had given her this honor. This was wonderful news. The Savior had been promised since Adam and Eve fell in the Garden of Eden. Mary was told to name Him Jesus. The name Jesus means Jehovah saves. Matthew 1:21 brings this meaning out: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
b. Mary's Response - To Understand The Good News
Luke 1:34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
Unlike Zacharias, Mary didn't doubt the angel's word; she simply didn't understand how this would happen since she was unmarried. Mary was still a virgin. She didn't understand how God would bring this wonderful promise to pass. So Mary asked the angel how it would take place. This news though wonderful was mysterious to her. She wanted to know how this good news would be fulfilled in her life. Therefore she asked Gabriel to explain it to her.
A Psalm for Christmas Eve -- Joseph Bayly in Psalms of My Life
Praise God for Christmas. Praise Him for the Incarnation for the Word made flesh.
I will not sing of shepherds watching flocks on frosty night or angel choristers.
I will not sing of stable bare in Bethlehem or lowing oxen
wise men trailing distant star with gold and frankincense and myrrh.
Tonight I will sing praise to the Father who stood on heaven's threshold
and said farewell to His Son as He stepped across the stars to Bethlehem and Jerusalem.
And I will sing praise to the infinite eternal Son who became most finite a Baby
who would one day be executed for my crimes.
Praise Him in the heavens.
Praise Him in the stable.
Praise Him in my heart.
God has proclaimed good news to all mankind. Lost sinners can find favor with God. We can receive God's abundant grace. The Lord has provided free salvation for all who will believe in Jesus Christ. Jesus means Jehovah saves. Have you heard the Good News but can't understand it? Then can I encourage you to do what Mary did, ask someone for an explanation of how God's salvation works. Please speak to someone after the service. We would love to share with you God's Good News. Don't let God's good news pass you by this Christmas!
This leads us to our third point.
III. Gabriel's Great God - For with God nothing will be impossible.
a. Gabriel's Sign - Behold - Elisabeth is having a son.
Luke 1:35-37 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. “Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. “For with God nothing will be impossible.”
The angel Gabriel didn't rebuke Mary for asking how the Lord would perform this miracle. He explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the power of God would bring about this miraculous conception. Isaiah 7:14 says: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Gabriel said that the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. The sinful nature was not passed on to Jesus because He was conceived of the Holy Spirit. Mary and Joseph wouldn't bring the Savior into the world. It wouldn't be accomplished by human effort. The birth of Jesus Christ was totally a work of God. The Holy Spirit brought about this miracle. The Son of God became the Son of Man too.
The Humble Ruler
There was a European monarch who, a couple of times each year, would take off his royal garb and, dressed as a peasant, go out amongst his people. The courtiers worried about this, but the king said, "I cannot rule my people unless I know how they live." But God came as a baby in a barn. The infinite God took on the form of finite man. -- Bruce Thielemann,
The angel Gabriel then gave Mary a sign to prove what he said would come to pass. Mary's cousin Elizabeth had conceived a son in her old age. For years she had been known as barren, but now the Lord gave her a child. Gabriel closes his explanation by saying that with God nothing will be impossible. The Lord is the God of the impossible. He does wonders and miracles as He wills. The ASV of 1901 translates verse 37 like this. For no word of God shall be void of power. That is a good translation. Most English versions don't translate two Greek words at the end of verse 37, every word. Every word of God is possible. It will be fulfilled.
What a paradox that a babe in a manger should be called mighty! Yet even as a baby, Jesus Christ revealed power. His birth affected the heavens as that star appeared. The star affected the Magi, and they left their homes and made that long journey to Jerusalem. Their announcement shook King Herod and his court. Jesus' birth brought angels from heaven and simple shepherds from their flocks on the hillside. Midnight became midday as the glory of the Lord appeared to men. -- Warren W. Wiersbe in His Name is Wonderful.
b. Mary's Response - Behold the maidservant of the Lord! - Obedience
Luke 1:38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
How did Mary respond to Gabriel's news? She received the word gladly. Then Mary believed and asked that God's word might be fulfilled in her life. She welcomed the Savior into her life. She picked up on the fact that God was able to fulfill His word as He had done in the case of her cousin Elizabeth. Mary desired God's will for her life. She was pleased to be God's servant and bear Savior of the world. She willingly received the Savior into her life. Mary showed both faith in God and obedience to His word. That is good example for us to follow. We should receive the word, believe it and obey it.
What is your response to the Gospel, God's Good News? Have you believed God's word? Have you received the Savior into your life? Jesus saves! Have you been born again? With God all things are possible. The Lord is able to give sinners, new life, eternal life. He does this through the work of the Holy Spirit. Have you obeyed the Gospel and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ who died for you? Have you been born again? In today's passage we have looked at three main points:
I. Gabriel's Greeting - Rejoice - highly favored one. You have received God's grace.
a. Gabriel's Request - Rejoice. Gabriel commanded Mary to rejoice because she had received God's grace. The Gospel declares that God will be gracious to all who receive His word.
b. Mary's Response - Troubled Heart. Do you feel unworthy of God's grace? We are all unworthy. But grace is not earned. It is unmerited favor. Won't you receive His grace today?
c. Gabriel's Reply - Fear Not. Are you afraid of God? Do you fear His judgment? If you receive the Gospel you have nothing to fear; God declares good news, you can be saved.
II. Gabriel's Good News - Behold - You will bear the Messiah. The Savior
a. Gabriel's Revelation - Behold, You will bear the Messiah. The good news is that the Messiah has come to give us life. He has come to bring us back to God. Jesus means Jehovah saves.
b. Mary's Response - She wanted to understand the Good News. Mary didn't doubt God's Word. She wanted to understand God's plan. So she asked. Do you understand God's plan of salvation?
III. Gabriel's Great God - Behold - Elisabeth is having a son. God is powerful.
a. Gabriel's Sign - Behold - Elizabeth is having a son. Gabriel then explained how God would enable Mary to conceive and bear the Son of God. It wasn't by human means. The Holy Spirit would work the miracle of Jesus birth. Salvation is totally a work of God. God is powerful. He can fulfill every word He speaks. God had enabled Elisabeth to conceive a son.
b. Mary's Response - Behold the maidservant of the Lord! - Obedience. Mary gladly received God's word. Have your received the Good News? Have you obeyed the Gospel? Have you received Jesus Christ as your Savior? Has the Holy Spirit given you new life, eternal life?
Jude 24-25 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.