26 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31 You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32 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, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be calledthe Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Do you love your job? Or for those who are retired, did you love your job? I don’t know about you, but I really love my job. In my mind, I have the best job in all of the universe. I have the opportunity to bring God’s message to ordinary people just like you. Some of my fellow angels had the amazing job of giving glory to God to shepherds whom one of us told that the Savior was born and that they should go toBethlehemand see him. But in many ways I had an equally important task. About nine months before that very night, that first Christmas evening, God had charged me, Gabriel with an important message to take to an ordinary girl, someone just like you, someone just as sinful as you. This message from God was so important for all of you. It was a miracle above all miracles that occurred inNazareth. As I tell you my story, step back from the busyness of this holiday season and marvel at the miracle ofNazareththat would began your salvation.
Before I tell you about my trip toNazareth, I should probably briefly tell you about my first message. Six months before I visited Mary, I visited a priest by the name of Zechariah. I proclaimed to him that his wife that was barren and unable to have children would have a baby. Now babies are miracles of God anyway, but this one was even more of a miracle. Elizabeth, Zechariah’s wife, was an elderly woman, well passed the age typically of having children. What a miracle that God was going to work for this couple! Their son known as John the Baptist would prepare the way for the Savior to come. Now six months later, God sent me to a very different place. He sent me toNazareth.
Nazareth! Many people I tell this story to ask the question, “Why Nazareth? What was so great about Nazareth?” The fact is there was nothing spectacular about Nazareth. A man named Nathaniel, who would later become one of Jesus’ disciples asked the very same question. “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:48) Nothing was important about that little town. It was obscure. It was never mentioned in the Old Testament. It was never connected directly with any prophecy about the Messiah. Really nobody went toNazareth and nobody important came fromNazareth. It was a town off the radar. And yet, God wanted me to go there to proclaim the miracle that was about to happen, the miracle ofNazareth.
Yet that wasn’t the only thing that was different about this trip. God sent me to a virgin, a young woman named Mary who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a humble carpenter. She was a descendant of David. Remember David, the great king ofIsrael. David, the one God had promised to send the Savior through one of his descendants. Yet after so many years, the house of David was weak. It was unimportant. They were no longer ruling overIsrael. But soon David’s house would receive the greatest and most important king for the entire world.
So when I came before Mary, I greeted her. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” But after I greeted her, she became very disturbed and afraid. Who wouldn’t be afraid? People are always afraid when we angels appear before ordinary people. She also was a little concerned, because she didn’t know what to think when a messenger of God appeared before her telling her that the Lord is with her. But I calmed her down, told her not to be afraid, and delivered God’s message.
God had chosen her to be the mother of the Savior. There was nothing she did or nothing about her that made her special, but God had chosen her by his grace, his undeserved love, to give birth to Jesus, the Son of the Most High, the son of David, the Son of God, the holy one. Mary who was an unmarried woman, a humble, ordinary young woman was chosen by God. God chose her to have this special child just as God has chosen you to be his own children.
Mary’s question was only natural. It was not one of doubt or disbelief. It was a question of understanding. “How will this be since I am a virgin?” Physically in earthly minds, this doesn’t make sense. It goes against all laws of nature. It’s impossible. Sometimes people don’t believe this. It doesn’t make sense. There has to be some rational explanation to explain the conception of Jesus and pregnancy of Mary. Those are the kinds of thoughts that doubt God’s ability and letting his Word stand alone as truth. It is exactly what it is. I don’t even think I really understand it that well either, but God did promise that it would happen this way. In Isaiah he proclaimed that a virgin would be with child and will give birth to a son and he will be called Immanuel which means “God with us”.
In Christmas carols, you sing about this truth. Think back to some of the better known carols, many of them proclaim this miracle. This miracle that was about to happen is even more spectacular thanElizabethhaving a child. The conception of the Savior would be caused by the Holy Spirit. The concept goes against every rationale thought, but God doesn’t work in a rationale way. He works in miraculous ways for his people. This miracle ofNazareth, the virgin being with child, is all about God and what he would do through that child for you. If Jesus was not born of a woman, he would not be human. He would not be under the Law. He would not have been tempted like you. Most importantly, he would not be able to die. If Jesus was born in the same way as you with sinful father and mother, he couldn’t be the Savior. If he was only human, he would have been born in sin just like you. His death would have meant nothing. You have no need to sing those Christmas carols.
As I told Mary, her son, Jesus would be the Son of God. As some would try to disprove this unnatural pregnancy or understand how it was possible, the simple solution is found in the answer that I gave Mary. “Nothing is impossible with God.” Marvel at this miracle of God. Marvel at this message that was given to a simple ordinary virgin, that Jesus the Savior was coming. He was coming in a spectacular, unnatural, and miraculous way. Marvel at this wonderful news that the Savior was finally coming and has come. Marvel at the miracle ofNazareth that brought the Savior to you.
After I told Mary this wonderful news, you could only imagine the thoughts that might have been running through her mind. “What are the people of the town going to think? This is only a small town. Word travels fast. What am I going to do when Joseph finds out? He’s going to think that I cheated on him. Nobody is going to believe me that an angel came to me. That’s just a way to take away to excuse my guilt.” Many people might have looked upon her with shame as she began to show. Imagine what Mary could have said in response to my message from God. But she didn’t.
Her response was simple. It didn’t want any kind of glory or praise. It was a response of faith. “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” She believed the message. There was no way that she could ever understand even after I explained how all of this would come about. Her response demonstrates faith and humility. What a response of faith. She may not have understood, but she believed. She believed and acknowledged that she is God’s servant. Marvel at that faith. Marvel at her willingness to be a humble servant of God, just like me – someone God uses to carry out his plans and his will.
Mary’s response should always be your response. You will never understand how Jesus can be both true God and true man. You cannot understand how this is possible, but in faith you believe it. You believe that nothing is impossible with God. You believe that God did all of this to bring about your salvation – salvation which humanly speaking is impossible. But with God all things are possible. Jesus, who was born of that virgin, came for you. He came to die for you. He came to make the impossible, not only possible, but sure. In his coming, your forgiveness and salvation is certain because he finished his work. Your every sin was wiped away by his blood. Your Savior is Jesus, Mary’s son. In faith you receive him as your one and only Savior. In faith your salvation is sure.
In that same faith you live your life serving God. You may not understand why things happen the way they do in your life, but our faith leads us to proclaim the same thing as Mary. “I am God’s servant.” We are all God’s servants. We all in some way have the same wonderful job. We all proclaim the news of Jesus’ coming into the world. We all proclaim that the Savior has come for the world. We proclaim it to the world. I had the privilege of proclaiming to Mary that the Savior was coming through her. You have the privilege of proclaim that Savior that came through her to people you meet just like the angels to the shepherds, and the shepherds to everyone they saw.
Seven days before Christmas. There always seems to be so much to do. Last minute presents to buy, services to prepare, meals to prepare, and everything else as we prepare to celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus, your Savior. As you prepare, stop and marvel at this wondrous news that I brought not just to Mary, but news brought to you. Marvel at the news that the Savior of the world came in a miraculous way. Marvel at the miracle that God worked through Mary, for her sins and for your sins. Marvel at that miracle in faith believing that this spectacular birth brought the beginning of your salvation. Jesus, your Savior, your King is coming in a miraculous way. He is the perfect gift for you. Amen.