The Annunciation of the Lord | March 25, 2020
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For the word of God will never fail.”
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Luke 1:26-38 New Living Translation (NLT)
Imagine being a young girl in 1st Century Israel. You knew that at some point the promised Messiah would arrive. You also know that this is a very dark time. Israel had suffered under one occupation after another since the time of Nebuchadnezzar. They hadn’t heard from God via the prophets for over 400 years.
Now, God breaks the silence – first to Zechariah, then to Mary. Gabriel’s visit comes as a surprise. We often think of angels as meek and mild creatures, but as Pam reminded us on Sunday, angels are part of the armies of heaven. I think this is a good representation of an angel:
No wonder the angel’s first words were “Do not be afraid.” I certainly would be afraid to see the creature above. Not only is the appearance frightening, but the angel brings unbelievable news. Mary learns that she – a virgin and pledged to Joseph was going to have a baby. This baby would be the promised Messiah.
She still doesn’t understand and asks for more detail. The angel obliges. Gives her the details and offers reassurance.
Mary’s response is this: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
The times we are living in try our souls. The angel’s message to us would be the same, “Do not be afraid.”
We need to remember that God is with us through His Son, Jesus. John writes: “14 So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” (John 1:14)
Jesus has experienced the things that we are experiencing.
The writer of Hebrews writes: 16 We also know that the Son did not come to help angels; he came to help the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore, it was necessary for him to be made in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. Then he could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. 18 Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested. (Hebrews 2:16-18)
We are reminded that since he has gone through the same sufferings and testings we have gone through – Jesus is able to help us. The angel said, “Do not be afraid.” Today we remember that when we need comfort…when we need Jesus’ help, he is there. He is our great high priest and we are encouraged to boldly go to the throne of our gracious God – who desires to give us grace when we need it the most.
14 So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15 This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
So today – just nine months before Christmas, we celebrate the angel Gabriel coming to Mary, telling her, “Do not be afraid” because the Son of God is coming in the flesh and Jesus came to save us and give us eternal life. This same Jesus can give us comfort in our times of trials.
Do Not Be Afraid! Why?
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4 He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 5 For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. 6 Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. 7 We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)