Luke 1: 26-38
God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 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 favoured! The Lord is with you.’
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 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, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’
‘How will this be,’ Mary asked the angel, ‘since I am a virgin?’
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[b] the Son of God. 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. For no word from God will ever fail.’
‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.
When the Queen or any other member of the Royal Family make a visit to another country there is a huge amount of detail and planning involved. One visit of the queen to America a few years ago involved her bringing 2 tonnes of luggage included two outfits for every occasion, a mourning outfit in case someone died (and you think you're bad when you go on holidays!?) She also brought white leather toilet seat covers, her own hairdresser, two valets, and a host of other attendants. A brief visit of royalty to a foreign country can easily cost £10-20 million.
Contrast this with God’s visit to earth. When the King of kings was born as a baby it took place in an animal shelter with no attendants present and nowhere to lay the newborn king but a feeding trough. God comes in great humility and is born to an ordinary young girl called Mary.
Have you ever asked yourself: Why would God choose Mary? What was so special about her?
She was young– scholars estimate she was between 13 and 15 years old. She was engaged to be married. 'Betrothal' it was called, which basically meant that legally you were married, but you were still living apart and hadn’t consummated the marriage.
She was from Nazareth. Nazareth was a little insignificant place with maybe a few hundred residents.
We aren’t told that she was rich, beautiful or from a powerful family. She was just an ordinary girl. Nothing special, nothing significant. Just a small town girl....
She was just like you and me. And yet God chose her to give birth to His son. God chose her to play a huge part in His plan to save humanity from their sins.
I’m sure her mind was filled with all sorts of questions and doubts and fears. Think about it. She was going to have to go to her fiancé Joseph and somehow tell him that she was pregnant. It was going to show. People were going to talk.
In that instant, just like that, God had turned this young girl’s life upside down.
Some people would tell us is that if we become a Christian – if you come to come to Jesus - this is what you get – joy, peace, fulfillment, happiness, eternal life. All your problems will go away. What do you have to give or do? Nothing. Just pray this wee prayer, come to the front and you’re a Christian and it’s all bliss and happiness from here on in.
And so when pain or suffering or divorce or sickness or depression or unemployment comes into our lives we can’t understand it – why has this happened? Has God not worked? Has being a Christian not worked? This isn’t what I signed up for.
What we need to understand is that God NEVER promised us perfect happiness and fulfillment in this life, at least not in the way we think we should have it. Jesus never said: 'Follow me, and you’ll be happy, healthy and wealthy.'
Jesus said: 'To follow me means to deny yourself and take up your cross; serve others, often with no return; give, and give some more, even if they don’t say thank you; love, even those who hate you; reach out and embrace, even those who are so different from you; endure, when people beat you and punish you for being a Christian.'
Often God’s will lead us into places and situations we’d rather avoid. God’s plan for us may well totally mess up our lives. He might our lives upside down.
That’s exactly what we find here. God visits this teenage girl called Mary and her life is turned upside-down. So why did God choose her?
It had nothing to do with her outward appearance or her background or power or status.
It had to do with her heart. Look at her response to what the angel tells her.
"I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." (v. 38)
What humility, what faith, what obedience, what trust, what submission.
I’m sure in her heart she’s going: 'God no!!. I don’t want this. What about Joseph? What will people say? Why me God?'
But her love for God is greater than her desire for anything or anyone else – so she simply submits to His will for her life.
Are you ordinary enough for God to use? We tend to always think – I’m not....enough.
Old enough. Young enough. Rich enough. Talented enough. Powerful enough. I haven’t been a Christian long enough.
We have excuse after excuse that we tell ourselves as to why God can’t do anything special or amazing through us.
Mary, I’m sure, could have rhymed off a huge list of reasons why God shouldn’t choose her.
But he did choose her, because she was ordinary enough to realise that if God wants to do something, he can and will do it, in anyone he chooses, through anyone He chooses.
Like Mary, we need to have an attitude of submission to His word, even when we don’t like it. Even if we feel unqualified, inadequate, just too ordinary.
Even if we know that doing it will make life very difficult for us. Because we trust him and love Him and know that His way is always best.
We need to be men and women who humbly say: May it be to me according to Your Word.