Introduction (Luke 1:26-27): We continue our series, Christmas Questions.
Children ask the most interesting & entertaining questions at Christmas.
- “Mom, do reindeer really fly?”
- Children’s questions reveal what they are interested in or thinking about—so do the questions of adults.
- The questions we ask reveal what is on our minds and in our hearts.
A young woman named Mary was surprised by a visit from an angel.
- The angel told her that she would become pregnant with a very special child.
- Luke 1:34 (NLT) tells us that, Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen?...”
- Her inquiry, and our title for this message, was An Innocent Question.
- Luke 1:26 (NLT)[P820]—26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel [messenger] Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, [region of Sea of Galilee]
- Nazareth was small, insignificant village, of perhaps 400 uneducated farmers, shepherds and laborers, many of whom were poor and living in limestone caves.
- Jews in Judea (in the south, location of Jerusalem and temple) disdained Jews in Galilee (in the north) because of their contact with Gentiles and laxness regarding God’s law.
- Luke 1:27-28 (NLT)[P820]—[The angel came] 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married [betrothed = legally binding year-long engagement breakable only by divorce, occurred after puberty for a woman, so Mary was likely aged 13-15] to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. [Mary was also.]
- Mary’s question wasn’t voicing skepticism; it revealed her innocence—personally and in her relationship with God.
An innocent relationship with God includes… (Luke 1:28-56?)
#1 - Conviction about God’s guidelines. (Luke 1:28-34; C/R: Psalm 119:9; John 14:21; 1 John 5:3)
- Luke 1:28 (NLT)[P820]—Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored [Gk. charis=graced or blessed] woman! The Lord is with you!”
- : There is a cave in Nazareth [image] identified as Mary’s home where Gabriel appeared to her, with steps that could have led up to an above-ground part of the house that no longer exists. [Catholic Church of the Annunciation was built over.]
- Luke 1:29 (NLT)[P820]—Confused and disturbed [not by angel’s appearance, but by his words. May have appeared human), Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.
- How was she favored by God (v.28)? She was uneducated, uncultured, poor; her life was menial, tedious, ordinary.
- Luke 1:30-33 (NLT)[P820]—30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! [repeated] 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name Him Jesus. [Gk. transliteration of Heb. Yeshua, (Eng., Joshua), meaning “YHWH saves,” hence, Savior] 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 [lit., the house of Jacob] forever; His Kingdom will never end!” [Messianic king promised in Isaiah 9:1-7;11-12;61;66; Jerimiah 33.]
- Mary was favored by God by being chosen by Him to be the mother of Israel’s Messiah, not because she was perfect or sinless, but she was devoted to God.
- She was graced because she was chosen to be used by God in this most significant way!
- Luke 1:34 (NLT)[P820]—Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
- Mary’s question was not based on doubt or skepticism; it was an expression of her innocence due to her age, but also her moral and sexual purity. (Psalm 119:9)
- This is not a statement of unbelief (unlike Zechariah’s at 1:18); it is an expression of faith and a question of fact by a 15-year-old girl who was asserting her obedience!
- She was asking this angel, “Tell me more; I don’t understand how this can happen, because I have never been intimate with a man.”
- If we want to have an innocent, pure, relationship with God, we must, like Mary, live with the conviction to obey God’s guidelines contained in the Bible. (John 14:21; 1 John 5:3)
- Asking God honest questions for clarification or understanding does not dishonor Him; in fact, seeking answers from God can be motivated by a desire for greater insight and intimacy with Him.
- : Do you ask God questions to receive His guidance and to know Him better?
An innocent relationship with God includes…
#2 - Certainty about God’s Word. (Luke 1:35-37; C/R: John 8:31-32; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; James 1:5-8,22)
- Luke 1:35 (NLT)[P820]—The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. [Same word applied to the presence of God in the holy of holies (Exodus 40:35).] So the baby to be born will be holy, and He will be called the Son of God.
- Jesus’ holiness results from being conceived by the Holy Spirit; though fully human, He did not inherit a sinful nature, as all other humans do. [2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Incarnation = “in flesh,” divinity entering humanity]
- Then the angel used a personal example of God’s miraculous power for someone she knew, that would provide reassurance to her (knowing she was a 15-year-old girl).
- Luke 1:36-37 (NLT)[P820]—36 What’s more, your relative [older cousin or aunt] 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 nothing is impossible with God.” (Some manus.: For the word of God will never fail. rhēma, an utterance or matter.)
- Mary was certain that what the angel described would occur, though she may not have understood the complete meaning of his response until later, when it occurred!
- Her innocent relationship with God meant that she accepted as true whatever He said, whether through the Scriptures or in this startling experience, through an angel.
- Mary knew God, so she was certain that His Words were true—by faith.
- If we want to have an innocent relationship with God, we, too, must accept the truthfulness of His Word—though it is always appropriate to ask for understanding. (James 1:5-8,11)
- God’s responses to us are always true, but not complete; He typically provides answers that lead us to the next step we must take, not a description of His entire plan.
- We are certain that the Bible is true because we know the author; we have experienced Jesus, the One who is the Truth! (John 14:6; also John 8:31-32)
- We believe the Bible is true about salvation, morality, human nature, the spirit world, even creation, by faith—not mere faith, but trust based on experience! (Hebrews 11:3;
- 2 Timothy 3:16-17))
- : Are you certain that the Bible, God’s Word, is true about all that it addresses?
An innocent relationship with God includes…
#3 - Commitment to God’s service. (Luke 1:38,46-49 C/R: Proverbs 3:5-6; Luke 9:23-24; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 2:10)
- Luke 1:38 (NLT)—38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
- Mary understood that her life belonged to God so she immediately surrendered herself to fulfill God’s plan, without hesitation.
- Mary did not need to know everything God planned and how it would all work out, she only needed to know that this was what God wanted from her! (Proverbs 3:5-6)
- She wasn’t aware of the challenge, the difficulties, the fear, the pain, the loss, she would face, but still she yielded her life. (Jews did not expect a suffering Savior.)
- Like any teenaged girl, this young woman had plans of her own, hopes and dreams for her life, which she willingly relinquished. (Luke 9:23-24)
- She certainly was graced by God to be entrusted to be the mother of the Messiah—but after the shock of the supernatural encounter passed, she must have reflected on how her life would change and wondered, “Would Joseph still marry her? Would her parents believe her? Would her friends or relatives reject her?”
- She could sadly anticipate that Joseph would end their betrothal, call off the marriage, so she would be pregnant and unmarried in a culture that dealt sternly with immorality!
- She must have the disturbing realization that she would be regarded as an adulteress—disrespected, gossiped about, slandered, and possibly even stoned! (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)
- She must have had the shocking thought: How would she live? Would her father allow her to remain in his home!
- She would receive the responsibility of raising the man who every Jew had been awaiting—the Messiah—but would anyone believe that?
- She must have wondered what would be expected of her to raise Israel’s Savior?
- Mary didn’t hesitate to accept the angel’s assignment because she regarded herself as God’s servant, so she would always do whatever God asked of her. (Romans 12:1-2)
- An innocent relationship with God means we view ourselves as God’s servants who are willing to do whatever He asks of us, without hesitation. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
- Mary expressed her feelings in a song of praise (Latin, Magnificat; Eng., magnifies).
- Luke 1:46-49 (NLT)[P801]—46 Mary responded, “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. 47 How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! 48 For He took notice of His lowly servant girl, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. 49 For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me.
- Mary regarded being used by God for His purpose was a great blessing, though it altered her plans for her life!
- : Is your greatest desire to be used by God for His purpose, even if it differs from your plans? (Ephesians 2:10)