“and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This Christmas, we will study the Christmas message in three parts. Today’s passage, the first one, has to do with the great news delivered by Gabriel about Jesus and His eternal kingdom. Jesus came to give His eternal kingdom to his precious children. Today’s passage describes a one to one Bible study between Gabriel and Mary. Perhaps it took just five minutes or a little more. Yet, the outcome of this encounter was great. Mary opened her heart and said, “I am the Lord’s servant: may it be to me as you have said!” We can learn from her response why God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus. May God bless us to have the joy of Mary in receiving God’s blessing in our hearts!
1. Read verses 26-31. Why was Mary greatly troubled at the Angel’s words? (26-29) What did God’s favor mean for Mary? (30-31) In what respect is she highly favored?
1-1, Read verses 26-31.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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. 28 The 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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
1-2, Why was Mary greatly troubled at the Angel’s words? (26-29)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,
Six months prior the angel Gabriel was sent from God to foretell the birth of John the Baptist to his father Zechariah when he was in the Jerusalem temple.
Now Gabriel was sent to Nazareth, a small local town. Nathaniel said in John 1:46, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Due to the reputation of a place like Nazareth, we can assume that the people there were very humble.
to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
Among the humble people living in this unknown town, there was a young woman whose name was Mary. According to Wikipedia her name could mean; “bitterness” or “rebellious”.
During the time period in which she lived, under the Roman occupation, in the middle of nowhere, her name most likely meant, “bitter.”
There seemed to be many women named Mary in those days, probably because life in those times were extremely bitter for the Jews.
However, she was pledged to be married. The man’s name was Joseph, a descendant of David. Her engagement might have been her joy and hope.
But there was more to this engagement than her personal happiness. God’s eye was upon her, and he sent his angel to speak to her.
28 The 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.
We know that Gabriel appeared to the righteous, elderly priest whose name was Zechariah. In the past, the angel Gabriel had appeared to righteous people, like the prophet Daniel. But Mary was nameless, enjoying the ordinary blessings of marriage.
So Mary was greatly troubled when an angel came and visited her, telling her she was highly favored. She was puzzled, “What kind of greeting this might be?”
1-3, What did God’s favor mean for Mary? (30-31)
30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
It seems as if God had chosen intentionally to show her favor. There was nothing favorable in her, except her sincere humility.
God was very much concerned with her humble state. He wanted to show that he cared for her and was mindful of her humility.
God’s favor was for her to become pregnant and give birth to a son. This seems a pretty strange favor from her point of view.
1-4, In what respect is she highly favored?
This son was to be named “Jesus.” God’s favor was not easy for Mary. Her simple life would suddenly become complicated.
Maybe might have thought, “Why me? Why not pick someone else?” There were so many consequences that would arise from Mary’s becoming pregnant.
This pregnancy might ruin all her hopes and dreams. She might wonder about how she could handle this responsibility to bring up her son properly.
God knows we don’t deserve God’s favor. But he gives us grace because of his name. We can humbly receive this grace that he has given us, with thanks.
We are made to live for the glory of God. Philippians 1:29 says “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him…”
We might think that giving up our comfortable standard of living in California would be cursed. But the opposite is true! It is far better to suffer for doing good in the Name of God.
God’s favor involves God’s mission to save a lost world. The Bible’s great message is that from the beginning, God had a plan to restore the fallen world back to himself.
Ephesians 3:7-9 reads,
“I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power.8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ,9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”
Likewise God’s favor to Mary was to participate in his ongoing work that has one single goal: “to return lost mankind to God’s glorious presence.”
May the Lord bless each of us to be on the line of duty in God’s wonderful redemptive history. May we reach out to to each and every campus as Bible teachers for wandering souls. “You(your family) are HIGHLY FAVORED!”
2. Read verses 32-33. What did the angel tell Mary about the Son she was going to bear? (32) What are the characteristics of His throne and kingdom? (33)
2-1, Read verses 32-33.
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, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
2-2, What did the angel tell Mary about the Son she was going to bear? (32)
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,
David was a shepherd, the youngest of all his brothers. But God lifted him up from his place of humility, for he was willing to give his life to honor God and take care of God’s sheep. David was a sinner like us but he was a man after God’s own heart.
2 Samuel 7:11-13 says, “The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
God was pleased to give David an everlasting kingdom. David’s offspring would be our eternal king. Now Gabriel announces that Mary would give birth to a son. He would be the King, and God would give him the throne of his father David.
All worldly kings of the world die. But Jesus became the eternal King, for He destroyed the power of sin and death. Thus he became our eternal king. Our eternal King gives eternal salvation from sin, eternal life and the kingdom of God to those who believe in him.
2-3, What are the characteristics of His throne and kingdom? (33)
and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This king was not just promised to David, but to Daniel at the time of Babylonian captivity. Daniel 7:14 says, “He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.”
This kingdom became the hope of all of God’s people throughout history. It is still our hope today. The angel’s message was troubling to the humble young woman, Mary. But it was full of hope that God’s promises were about to be fulfilled at last.
Only the kingdom of Jesus is forever because he rules in our hearts. Jesus is a spiritual king! He became our eternal king through his death and resurrection. Though Jesus is the Son of the Most High God, he came to this world. He humbled himself and was born in a manger.
Jesus humbled himself in order to save men from their sins. Moreover, Jesus emptied himself and became as nothing. Jesus cared for all kinds of needy people as their friend and shepherd. Jesus taught them the word of God and planted the hope of the kingdom of God in the hearts of God’s flock. So participating in Jesus’ remaining suffering in saving souls has eternal value in this transient world!
Daniel 7:27 reads,
“Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.”
3. Read verses 34-38. How did the Angel help Mary? (34-37) What was her final reply? (38) What was the basis of her decision of faith?
3-1, Read verses 34-38.
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
3-2, How did the Angel help Mary? (34-37)
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the 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 unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
Mary’s initial response here was not negative. But she did have a logical question. When the angel expounded that Mary’s pregnancy was not an accident, but was precisely the work of the Holy Spirit, Mary accepted the angel’s message absolutely. Now Mary was ready to respond to the angel’s message.
The angel explained using the case of an old woman, Elizabeth’ miraculous pregnancy. The angel convinced Mary that nothing is impossible with God. She realized that her destiny is absolutely in the hand of God.
3-3, What was her final reply? (38)
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
She also realized that even if she had rejected God’s plan, God would carry it out anyway. She could have been very rebellious and rejected the angel’s message, but Mary decided to obey based on God’s words.
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.” When Mary said this, she was not speaking from her emotions, or with blind resignation to fate; she said this on the basis of God’s promise.
3-4, What was the basis of her decision of faith?
She acknowledges that she is a servant of the Lord. It is a realization of who she truly is before God. In other words, Mary had found herself in God. Mary knew herself fully when she said, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
In America, we believe that we must “live free or die.” So it is a strange concept for us to say, “I am the Lord’s servant.” But the fact is that each of us is created in the image of God, and each of us is specially designed to fulfill a purpose in God.
We have an eternal nature. When I realize I am the Lord’s servant, it becomes clear that God made me to live forever in his presence.
Isaiah 26:3 says, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” A person whose thoughts are consumed with God and His kingdom will have perfect peace instead of anxiety and worry. When we find ourselves anxious or worried, we should check if we have lost a God-centered mindset.
Hebrews 5:8,9 says, “Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” Christ, even though he was the Son of God, humbled himself and learned how to obey God the Father through suffering.
To serve the Lord with thanksgiving gives me ultimate meaning and joy. Serving people or money or our desires that we are not created to serve can only make us cursed and miserable. Our lives become dead, and death becomes our reality and destiny. But when we can recognize “I am the Lord’s servant,” our life takes on eternal significance, and eternal life becomes our reality.
Mary also said, “May it be to me as you have said.” She was pleased to carry out her mission as the mother of God’s Son. She knew that she could offer nothing to this son – she was a poor, helpless girl. But she was filled with hope to learn from God through the birth of this blessed child. She looked forward to all God was going to give her through her mission. “May it be to me as you have said.”
Today we learn how to receive God’s blessing from Mary, a humble country girl. May God grant us a humble servant attitude so that we may receive God’s blessing to us in this Christmas time. May we be opened to the truth that we are highly favored to be the Lord’s servants! May God use us as your servants in your great redemptive history!