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Sunday School Lesson

December 4

God Promises a Savior

 

Devotional Reading:Isaiah 6:1-8

Background Scripture:Luke 1:26-38

 

Luke 1:26-38

 

26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth,

 

27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

 

28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

 

29 And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.

 

30 And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

 

31 And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

 

32 He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:

 

 

 

33 And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 

34 Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

 

35 And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 

36 And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.

 

37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

38 And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

 

Key Verse

 

Behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.—Luke 1:31

 

Lesson Aims

 

After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:

 

1. Retell the incident of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary.

 

2. Explain how Gabriel’s message prepared Mary to accept God’s plan to be the mother of the Messiah.

 

3. Write a prayer of submission to be God’s servant in the Christmas season.

 

 

Introduction

 

A. On an Adventure

 

I am the kind of person who likes to follow a plan. When our family goes on vacation, I want to know the distance and time between each day’s destination. I do my homework about where we will stay and how much it will cost. Realizing this tendency may not always make a vacation as enjoyable as it should be for others, I have asked my family to plan daily activities once we get to where we’re going.

 

Whether my plans or theirs, sometimes plans need to change. When this happens, my wife will often say, “It just means we’re going on an adventure!” It’s her way of saying, “Changing our plans isn’t a bad thing, because we’re facing the unknown together.”

 

In today’s lesson Mary learns that God wants her to be a part of His plan to bring salvation. Her part in His plan is one that will change the plans she and Joseph were making for their life together. As each was visited by an angel, they found their plans being adjusted by God’s extraordinary plan to put on human flesh. Joseph and Mary were about to begin an adventure unlike anything either of them could have imagined. It was an adventure that changed their lives, and ours, forever.

 

B. Lesson Background

 

Today’s lesson examines a vital segment in a sequence of bigger stories. On a personal level, it is Mary’s story. At the time of Gabriel’s visit, she was a virgin and espoused to be married to Joseph (see Matthew 1:18).

 

The path modern couples take to marriage can cloud our understanding of Mary’s circumstances. In the ancient Near East, couples might become married through a variety of arrangements. These customs involved various levels of freedom and consent on the part of one or both persons to be married. The espousement or betrothal custom was one in which a man and woman became legally bound to one another before the actual marriage ceremony. Betrothal was much more binding than today’s custom of “being engaged.”

 

The betrothal period usually lasted about a year. A betrothed couple was committed to see each other but did not live together or engage in sexual intimacy. During that time, a couple made preparations to live together as husband and wife. Since a betrothal was legally binding, ending the relationship required a divorce. Indeed, Joseph considered such action (Matthew 1:18, 19).

 

The text of today’s lesson is part of the larger story of God’s relationship with His covenant people. The era in which Gabriel appeared to Mary was a time of subjugation for the Jews. Although Jerusalem and the temple had been rebuilt after the Babylonian exile, the Jewish people remained under the control of various pagan powers over the centuries that followed. The Roman Empire was the occupying power at the time of Jesus’ birth. Oppression by those Gentiles fueled hope and expectation that God would send His Messiah to liberate and lead His people.

 

I. Hearing God’s Plan

 

                                                                  (Luke 1:26-33)

 

A. Mary Greeted (vv. 26-28)

 

26. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth.

 

This verse connects Gabriel’s visit to Mary with his visit to the priest Zacharias. In the verses just prior to this one, Gabriel told Zacharias that his wife, Elisabeth, was to give birth to a son. The sixth month Luke mentions here refers to the progress of Elisabeth’s pregnancy (Luke 1:36).

 

How to Say It

 

Cornelius Cor-neel-yus.

 

Davidic Duh-vid-ick.

 

Gabriel Gay-bree-ul.

 

Galilee Gal-uh-lee.

 

Messiah Meh-sigh-uh.

 

messianic mess-ee-an-ick.

 

Nathanael Nuh-than-yull (th as in thin).

 

Nazareth Naz-uh-reth.

 

Theophilus Thee-ahf-ih-luss (th as in thin).

 

Zacharias Zack-uh-rye-us.

 

Luke may have in mind readers of non-Jewish background as he makes a transition from Jerusalem (where Gabriel encountered Zacharias) to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth. While most such readers have heard of Jerusalem, it is unlikely they know anything about Nazareth (about 64 miles north of Jerusalem as the crow flies, and perhaps 90 miles by road). Nazareth is a small, insignificant village like so many others in the region of Galilee. This seems to have been the way Nathanael thought of Nazareth (see John 1:46).

 

27. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.

 

After Luke tells us the when and where of God’s sending Gabriel to announce the Messiah’s arrival, he reveals the circumstances and identity of the recipient of Gabriel’s visit: a certain Mary. The fact that she is a virgin (mentioned twice) is consistent with the betrothal stage of her relationship with Joseph (see the Lesson Background). Her virginal status is also significant for understanding how she reacts to the angelic message (v. 34, below).

 

The fact that Joseph is of the house of David is the first suggestion in this Gospel of a messianic significance for what is to happen. The reason this is so is because of the prophecy that the Messiah is to be a descendant of King David (compare Isaiah 11:1, 10; Jeremiah 23:5; Matthew 22:42).

 

What Do You Think?

 

What role should awareness of personal heritage play, if any, in preparing for marriage? Why?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding differing cultural values

 

Regarding expectations of extended family

 

Regarding boundaries within the immediate family of origin

 

Other

 

28. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.

 

Gabriel initiates the verbal interchange with a greeting that is certainly more than an ordinary “hello”! We may wonder what it is about Mary’s character that results in the angel’s declaring her to be highly favoured. The text does not tell us, but elsewhere the Lord’s favor is said to be granted to those who seek and find wisdom (Proverbs 8:1, 35) and who pursue a “good” lifestyle (12:2).

 

This raises the question of whether God’s favor toward Mary is a result of merit on her part. Some think the case of Noah is a precedent for an affirmative answer in this regard, since the declaration that he “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” is followed by the analysis that “Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:8, 9). On the other hand, evidence for a negative answer might be the case of God’s favor on the Israelites as a whole. They proved time and time again that they merited no such favor (Deuteronomy 7:6-8; Nehemiah 9:16-31).

 

We are safe to assume that Mary’s character in some way makes her eligible to receive the great honor of being chosen to give birth to the Messiah (Luke 1:30, 31, below). Even so, there are doubtless many other young Jewish virgins of similar character in Mary’s day. Why she receives the honor to be blessed … among women in this way instead of any of them is, in the final analysis, a matter of speculation.

 

The affirmation the Lord is with thee mirrors similar statements found elsewhere (Joshua 1:5; Judges 6:12; etc.). His presence is also part of Matthew’s account of an angelic visit to Joseph, although stated in a different way (Matthew 1:20-24).

 

B. Mary Comforted (vv. 29-33)

 

29, 30. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.

 

Angelic appearances can be disturbing (compare Matthew 28:5; Luke 1:11, 12; 2:8-10; Acts 10:1-4), and that is the case here. Luke doesn’t tell us specifically that Mary is afraid, but it is not hard to imagine that she is!

 

Gabriel calms any fears by repeating that Mary has found favour with God. This reaffirmation lets her know that regardless of any uncertainty that arises and regardless of how others might view her circumstances, she doesn’t need to be afraid. She has God’s approval.

 

What Do You Think?

 

How should we react when we recognize God’s favor at work in our lives in various ways?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding an opportunity being presented

 

Regarding material blessings we already have

 

Regarding a change of financial status

 

Regarding a change in position of authority

 

Other

 

31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.

 

There is no small talk or get-acquainted session here! Rather, Gabriel proceeds immediately to deliver the message that is his task to do. Divine initiative is suggested in the promise that Mary will name her forthcoming son Jesus. Unlike today, biblical names are loaded with meaning and significance (compare Hosea 1:4-9). The Old Testament origin of Jesus’ name is found in the name Joshua. In turn, that name is derived from a Hebrew verb that means “to save.” When Joseph is told what the name of Mary’s baby is to be, the angel leaves no question that the name has prophetic significance (Matthew 1:21).

 

What Do You Think?

 

What sequence of steps have you found to be useful when receiving life-changing news?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Concerning positive news (job promotion, news of a birth, etc.)

 

Concerning negative news (layoff notice, news of a death, etc.)

 

32a. He shall be great.

 

While most parents think their children are special, Mary has the best reason to think so. Since the Bible refers to God as great (Deuteronomy 10:17; Nehemiah 8:6; 9:32; Psalm 95:3; 104:1), the statement He shall be great seems to highlight the forthcoming child’s divine status.

 

32b. And shall be called the Son of the Highest.

 

This title, which Gabriel uses to predict the child’s exalted status, is reflected in both Old and New Testaments (Genesis 14:18-22; Deuteronomy 32:8; Mark 5:7; Acts 16:17). This divine designation conveys the sense of God’s authority over all things. God identifies Jesus as His Son at His baptism (Luke 3:21, 22). Jesus’ status as God’s Son is also recognized by demons (Matthew 8:29), by Simon Peter (Matthew 16:16), etc.

 

32c. And the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David.

 

This partial verse helps us understand why Luke mentions Joseph’s ancestry in verse 27, above. At this point, Mary should be realizing that Gabriel is saying Jesus will be the Messiah (compare 2 Samuel 7:12, 13, 16; Isaiah 9:7).

 

33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

 

Jesus’ messianic identity is further confirmed. In the Old Testament, the expression the house of Jacob is synonymous with Israel (Exodus 19:3; Isaiah 46:3; Jeremiah 2:4; Ezekiel 20:5), the people over whom the Messiah is expected to reign.

 

But Gabriel reveals that the nature of Jesus’ rule will diverge from expectations. If some believe the Messiah’s rule will be limited in duration, Gabriel makes clear that it will be eternal. There will be no line of succession as is customary with earthly kings. Neither Jesus’ reign nor His kingdom will ever cease to be.

 

While nothing is said about when Jesus’ rule is to begin, Jesus will speak of his kingdom as present while He is on earth (Luke 17:20, 21). He will speak of it in future terms as well (22:16, 18). The fact that Jesus describes the kingdom of God in both ways indicates that He doesn’t see His messianic role being limited to His time on earth.

 

II. Trusting God’s Plan

 

                                                                  (Luke 1:34-38)

 

A. Mary’s Question (v. 34)

 

34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?

 

It’s not hard to imagine that Mary’s mind is filled with the normal who, what, where, when, and why questions. But the question she chooses to ask is that of how. Her question suggests she is thinking Gabriel’s prediction of her conceiving a child will come to pass sooner rather than later. If she is thinking that Gabriel is talking about Joseph and her having a baby after they consummate their marriage, then her virginity (I know not a man) would be a nonissue, and her how question would not be on her mind.

 

Zacharias also questioned Gabriel—questioning that resulted in the skeptical priest’s being made mute! But no penalty results from Mary’s question. The difference seems to be that Zacharias questioned from a standpoint of doubt. The elderly, experienced priest (Luke 1:5-7) should know of the power of God to make things happen. In the history of God’s people, barren wives had indeed become pregnant (Genesis 18:10-14; 21:1-7; Judges 13:2, 3, 24; 1 Samuel 1:1-20).

 

Mary’s question, on the other hand, stems from the fact that virgins do not have babies. There is no Old Testament instance of a virginal conception. If there were, her question could make her guilty of undue skepticism. Her question is reasonable.

 

What Do You Think?

 

How do we know when questions to God cross the line from being appropriate (as in Luke 1:34) to being inappropriate or even sinful (as in Luke 1:18)?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

In times of national distress

 

In times of personal distress

 

When faced with an opportunity

 

Other

 

Unique, but Not Alone

 

When I used to express concern about being able to do something that seemed too difficult, my husband would reply, “How do you think the pioneers did it?” That response always made me realize that life wasn’t as hard as it could be. It also made me wonder how I would have fared in an earlier era—that is, until one day when I had an epiphany. None of my ancestors crossed the mighty Mississippi River until after an interstate highway was built across it! My takeaway lesson was clear: not everyone need be a trailblazer.

 

At one level, God’s plans are the same for every Christian: we are to “walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10). Above and beyond that, it seems that God reserves specific plans for relatively few people. All of us are to travel the “highway … called The way of holiness” in a general sense (Isaiah 35:8), while relatively few are called specifically to go to foreign countries as missionaries with the Word of God in hand as the spiritual machete for hacking a trail.

 

Mary’s call was unique to her, never to be repeated. She had neither podcast sermons nor Christian books to help prepare her for all that the call entailed. Even so, God met her needs—usually, it seems, through interactions with other people (Matthew 2:11; Luke 1:39-45, 56; 2:16-19, 22-38; John 19:25-27; Acts 1:14).

 

We need not fear what God’s plans entail. He has unlimited resources. He is able to provide comfort in any situation. He is faithful to help us succeed in what He entrusts to us. “Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10). Expect it!—V. E.

 

B. Gabriel’s Answer (vv. 35-37)

 

35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

 

The nature of Gabriel’s words may leave modern readers with the impression that he is using euphemisms to describe how Mary will become pregnant. On the contrary, Gabriel’s descriptions rule out the type of divine-human mating found in some pagan religions. His language describing The Holy Ghost at work is similar to what Jesus will later say in Acts 1:8 to prepare the disciples for Pentecost. Gabriel’s description of God’s overshadowing of Mary is similar to how God is said to be present to protect His people (Psalm 91:4).

 

36, 37. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.

 

Even though Mary doesn’t ask for confirmation of Gabriel’s words, it is given nonetheless. The confirmation is the startling pregnancy of Elisabeth, a relative of Mary. Mary seems not to know about Elisabeth’s pregnancy before Gabriel mentions it, since Elisabeth has hidden it (Luke 1:24).

 

Gabriel’s words are reminiscent of the Lord’s words to Abraham in Genesis 18:13, 14. Elisabeth’s pregnancy serves as an example to Mary that things that are humanly impossible are not impossible for God. The conceptions of John the Baptist and Jesus are manifestations of this truth.

 

Luke 1:56 says that Mary stays with Elisabeth “about three months.” Since 6 + 3 = 9, some students think Mary is with Elisabeth when John the Baptist is born. However, Luke 1:57 indicates that Mary’s departure occurs just prior to John’s birth.

 

C. Mary’s Faith (v. 38)

 

38. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

 

There is nothing in Gabriel’s words to suggest God’s plan is contingent on Mary’s agreement. Even so, her statement of submission is important. In describing herself as handmaid, Mary uses a term that refers to slaves. By doing so she expresses her immediate and forthcoming obedience—she is God’s, and He is the Lord.

 

While no details are given as to when Mary becomes pregnant, Elisabeth realizes that her younger relative is with child when the two meet (Luke 1:41-45). This suggests Mary becomes pregnant shortly after Gabriel’s visit, since she departs “with haste” to visit Elisabeth (1:39, 40).

 

What Do You Think?

 

Which Bible passages help you most to distinguish between the Lord’s leading and your own personal desires?

 

Points for Your Discussion

 

Regarding Bible commands intended for all

 

Regarding successes and failings of Bible characters

 

Other

 

Favorite Quotes

 

It seems to be somewhat chic to be called a nerd these days. I’m glad, because I suspect I am one. Not the science- or genius-type, mind you. I’m more of a word-nerd in that I love to collect quotes. Consider these treasures from my personal trove:

 

I have a point of view. You have a point of view. God has view.

 

—Madeleine L’Engle

 

Time sneaks up on you like a windshield on a bug.

 

—John Lithgow

 

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

 

—A. W. Tozer

 

Many of my favorites are verses from the Bible. These favorites pierce the dullness of doubt and my own “analysis paralysis,” inspiring me to (quoting Nike®) “Just do it.”

 

Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts.—David (1 Samuel 17:45)

 

 

 

Here am I; send me.—Isaiah (Isaiah 6:8)

 

And at the top of my list is the terse, no-nonsense affirmation by a young lady with no literary credentials: “Be it unto me according to thy word” (Luke 1:38). May we too be open to His leading.—V. E.

 

Conclusion

 

A. A Change of Plans

 

Mary’s life was already changing by the time of Gabriel’s visit: she was espoused to Joseph, legally committed to becoming his wife. But when God chose her to be the earthly mother of the Messiah, His plan changed her plans. Even given Gabriel’s answer to her question, “How shall this be?” there was still much she didn’t understand about God’s plan. Yet Joseph and Mary didn’t need to understand everything about that plan to be part of it. What they needed to do—and did do—was trust God.

 

Before Jesus was born, both Joseph and Mary understood at some level that He would be the promised Messiah. Both Joseph and Mary accepted the “adventure” of the divine plan, even though it meant changing their own plans. At different times, we all need to trust God’s promises and plan. When such times come our way, there will be some things we understand and there will be some things we don’t. The challenge is to trust when our understanding is incomplete.

 

When we do so, we change forever. When we agree to be part of God’s “adventure,” we won’t be taking the journey alone. He will be with us every step of the way!

 

B. Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, grant us the wisdom to know Your will for our lives as You strengthen our faith in Your promises. May we realize that Your Word has Your plan: we are to bear fruit for Your kingdom. Grant that we may say yes to every chance to do so. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

C. Thought to Remember

 

Trust that depends on full understanding—isn’t.

 

 

 

 

Kid’s Corner

No Words from God Will Fail

Luke 1: 26-38

Sunday, December 4, 2016

 

 

Luke 1:26-38

 

(Luke 1:26) Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth,

 

During the sixth month after Elizabeth had conceived John the Baptist, the angel Gabriel, who had appeared to Zechariah in the temple and had foretold the conception and birth of John the Baptist, was sent by God to visit the virgin Mary, who would soon become the mother of Jesus the Messiah. Whereas John’s parents were of the tribe of Levi and lived in Judea, Mary and Joseph were of the tribe of Judah and they lived north of Judea in land formerly occupied by the northern kingdom, called the Kingdom of Israel. Since Elizabeth and Mary were related, Mary may also have had some Levite priests in her ancestry. Joseph, who would become Jesus’ legal father, was of the house of David of the tribe of Judah.

 

(Luke 1:27) to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

 

Some Bible teachers state that the virgin Mary was probably only 12 or 13 years old when the angel Gabriel appeared to her; however, just because some rabbis say a girl at that time could be engaged or betrothed to be married at the age of 12 and married at the age of 13 is no indication that Mary was that young. Mary was probably younger than 20 years old, but the Bible does not indicate her age. In my opinion, God would have chosen an older girl to bear the infant Jesus for her sake as well as for the sake of her Son. Mary would travel great distances for that historical period of time, and she would face hardships both before and after Jesus’ birth. An older girl could probably deal with these hardships easier than a very young girl. Mary would probably travel 90 to 100 miles (a 3 or 4-day journey at least) to visit Elizabeth before John’s birth and then travel back to Nazareth. She would travel about that same distance again when she traveled to Bethlehem with Joseph (a 3 or 4-day journey at least) immediately before the birth of Jesus. After Jesus’ birth, she would travel to Egypt to save Him from the murderous King Herod. If Mary were a mother older than 13 years old, she would be stronger emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually and better able to do all of these things. One can ask themselves, “What age of a girl would God most likely choose in this unique situation; especially since God knew beforehand what Mary would face in the future after she conceived Jesus?” The name “Mary” means “exalted one.” The name “Joseph” means “May he (God) add (sons).” Though tradition seems to teach that Joseph was a much older man than Mary, the Bible does not tell us his age either; so he may have been close to Mary’s age. Since the Bible simply does not tell us the ages of Joseph and Mary, all guesses are merely speculative. Joseph was of the house of David, and the Bible foretold that the Messiah would be of the house of David. Joseph would be the legal father of Jesus, the Son of God. Later, God would legally adopt all who would believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and receive Him as their Lord and Savior. Jesus declared that He was the root of (or the foundation of or the beginning of or the life-giving means of sustaining) the House of David as well as a descendant of the House of David, saying “I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Revelation 22:16).

 

(Luke 1:28) And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

 

The angel Gabriel did not appear to Mary in a way that would frighten her. We are not told that he appeared to her in a dream. He may have simply knocked on the door of her home and greeted her. His words encouraged her with a standard formal greeting, plus the revelation that his visit was to bring her a blessing (true happiness) from God and not the judgment of God, for God was with her and favored her. For the Lord to be with you is an indication that the Lord will help you. Mary may have wondered what God wanted and why she would especially need God’s help.

 

(Luke 1:29) But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.

 

Mary’s first response to the angel was perplexity or confusion. She had no idea what the angel might want or what message God had sent the angel to bring her. The title “angel” means “messenger.” As far as we know, nothing in her previous experience had prepared her to expect a meeting with an angel. She had a brief moment to wonder why God favored her and an angel had appeared to her.

 

(Luke 1:30) The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.

 

Perhaps the initial appearance of the angel did not frighten Mary, but perplexity could lead to fear. The angel came to give her a message, and he did not want her to be frightened by his message or by him. He had not come to give her bad news, but good news that she had found favor with God; God intended to bless her and give her the opportunity to serve Him. To comfort and encourage her, the angel mentioned twice that she was favored. God had His own reasons for “favoring” Mary above all other women, but surely He had prepared her mentally, physically, morally, and spiritually in advance to be the mother of His Son; just as He had prepared Moses in advance to save His people from bondage in Egypt. Jesus would save His people from their sins, so God gave His Son the best parents possible to nurture and train Him in God’s law, love, justice, and mercy. The parents of John the Baptist were “righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments and regulations of the Lord” (Luke 1:6). We have good reasons to believe that these spiritual traits and righteous ways of living would also characterize the mother and father that God had prepared to be the mother and father of His only begotten Son, Jesus.

 

(Luke 1:31) “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.

 

Mary had found favor with God because God had chosen and prepared her to be the mother of Jesus before she was born, as the psalmist so eloquently declared about himself and all of God’s chosen ones: “For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb” (Psalm 139:13). The Bible does not say that Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit before she was born (as the Bible teaches about John the Baptist), but God could so arrange events and people in Mary’s life to prepare her to serve as the mother of the Son of God. Mary had the moral, spiritual, mental, and physical qualities that would make her a perfect mother for the Son of God. The angel told her to name her son “Jesus,” which means “Yahweh (or God) Saves.”

 

(Luke 1:32) “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David;

 

In the temple, the angel Gabriel told Zechariah some things about John’s future ministry; after John’s birth, the Holy Spirit filled Zechariah and directed him to give his newborn son the title “the prophet of the Most High” (Luke 1:76). The angel Gabriel told Mary some things about Jesus, and why Jesus would be called “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32). Jesus was great; so great in fact that His enemies crucified Him and left Him in a tomb; however, after His resurrection from the dead, His church has spread around the world. Unlike John the Baptist, who was the foretold prophet of God, Jesus would be called “the Son of the Most High,” because God would be His Father and His followers would see this fact in His life, love, ministry, prayers, teaching, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Having the “throne of his ancestor David” meant Jesus would be the long-expected and prophesied Messiah whose reign would never end.

 

(Luke 1:33) and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”

 

Mary did not know or understand all that the angel meant when he declared these facts about Jesus’ future, about the Son she would bear. The “house of Jacob” included all of the 12 tribes of Israel, not just the tribe of Judah, even though the northern kingdom, which was called the Kingdom of Israel, had been destroyed in 722 BC. Perhaps the angel used the term “house of Jacob” so no one would mistake his meaning and try to distinguish the Kingdom of Judah from the destroyed Kingdom of Israel (Jacob’s name had been changed by God from Jacob to Israel). Because Jesus would live forever after His death and resurrection and sit at the right hand of God the Father, His kingdom would never end.

 

(Luke 1:34) Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

 

Though Mary was engaged to be married to Joseph, she was not married yet and she had never done anything toward the conception of a child. Therefore, she wanted to know what she was to do in order to conceive her child, Jesus the Messiah. The angel would tell her that the only thing she needed to do was receive this blessed gift of God. She was not to seek an earthly husband to be the physical father of Jesus. She, of course, married Joseph, who became the legal father of Jesus and who would help care for and raise Him in a godly home. Thus, Jesus was fully human and fully God as the Son of Mary and the Son of God.

 

(Luke 1:35) The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.

 

The angel told her what would happen, but he did not give her (nor do the gospel writers give) much specific information or details about how she would receive the blessed gift of a baby, who would be the Son of God. Any supernatural medical explanation would have been beyond her comprehension and the comprehension of those she might tell (including us today). The power of the Most High God through the blessed Holy Spirit would conceive within her the Son of God, Jesus the Messiah. The conception of the true Son of God was totally unlike the myths of the Greek gods in classical or modern fiction. God the Father totally respected Mary as a person and as a woman, and He performed a miracle so Jesus would be holy and the only begotten Son of God (see John 3:16).

 

(Luke 1:36) “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month.

 

The angel then gave Mary information that she could use to help her during this time of dramatic change in her life. She would visit Elizabeth, who in her old age would give Mary much wise advice and confirm for her what the angel had told her. The Bible often requires two witnesses to confirm a legal fact, and filled with the Holy Spirit both Elizabeth and the baby John within her would serve as second witnesses for Mary that the angel’s appearance was real and Mary’s child was the Son of God (Luke 1:41-42). In addition to Zechariah, Elizabeth and the baby John would also serve as second witnesses for Joseph and Mary when Mary told Joseph about the angel’s appearance to Zechariah in the temple and to her in her home and about the miraculous birth of John and Zechariah’s ability to talk once more; thus confirming for Joseph that his own angelic dream about Jesus and His mother Mary was an authentic revelation from God. When we think of how God can speak through angels, prophets, and a baby in a womb as witnesses for God, we bow in wonder and praise to God.

 

(Luke 1:37) “For nothing will be impossible with God.”

 

Some translations read, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). A suggested literal Greek translation is: “From God no word shall be impossible.” Whatever God says, God can do; whatever promise God makes, God will fulfill. In the context of Luke 1:36, it was not impossible for God to give supernaturally the boy Isaac to Sarah and the boy Samuel to Hannah through natural human means in their old age; therefore, it was not impossible for God to use natural means to supernaturally give the boy John the Baptist to Elizabeth in her old age. It would not be impossible for God to give Mary a Son who did not have a physical human father, and God would do so in a way unlike the conception of human beings and unlike the supposed conception of some of the fictional Egyptian and Greek gods or idols. For example, in Moses’ day some believed wrongly that the son of Pharaoh was a god because he was conceived by the son of a god, the Pharaoh. Through God’s miracles in Egypt, God defeated all the pagan gods of Egypt including Pharaoh, just as God said He would. In Jesus’ conception, the Holy Spirit would “overshadow” Mary. “Overshadow” is the term the angel used when he told Mary how she would conceive the Son of God, and “overshadow” is a term similar to the word used in the Bible when God descended over the tabernacle after Moses set it up.

 

(Luke 1:38) And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

 

Mary humbly submitted to the will of God, but she may have lived in faithfulness to God daily for many years before she met the angel — she may have committed each new day to God using the very words that she spoke to the angel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord.” With these humble words, she has become an example for all who would truly follow her Son as their Lord and Savior. Today, disciples of Jesus can say to God each morning with respect to the day ahead, “As I read the Bible today, may your word to me and the world be fulfilled” or “Let it be with me according to the Bible” or “Let it be with me according to your word” or “Tell me what to do and I will do it, because I am your willing servant.”

 

 

No Words from God Will Fail

Luke 1: 26-38

Sunday, December 4, 2016

 

“For no word from God will ever fail” (Luke 1:37).

 

After the angel Gabriel told Mary that even though she was a virgin she would conceive Jesus the Messiah after the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, he assured her that what he said was true by saying, “For no word from God will ever fail.” As people read the Bible, they can remind themselves that no word from God has ever failed or will ever fail. Also, they can find a multitude of examples of this fact as they read the Bible. Sarah conceived Isaac in her old age as God said she would. Hannah conceived Samuel in her old age as God said she would. Elizabeth conceived John the Baptist in her old age as God said she would. And though Mary had never known a man, she conceived Jesus the Messiah as God said she would. God has made many promises in the Bible, and His word has never failed. If we were to ask why, a more familiar translation of Luke 1:37 provides the answer, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Both translations accurately  represent the ancient Greek text, and both translations emphasize similar truths: “God’s word will never fail, because nothing will be impossible for God.” As we think about the future regarding the promises God has made to us about the future in the Book of Revelation and other books of the Bible, we have very good reasons to believe that based on God’s promises and past performances, His future performances are assured. As we read the Bible, we also have good reasons to say to God as Mary said to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:38).

 

 

Thinking Further

No Words from God Will Fail

Luke 1: 26-38

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Name _____________________

 

 

1. If you were God the Father, what type of girl or woman would you want to choose to be the mother of your only begotten Son?

 

 

2. What does the angel say to Mary so she will not be afraid?

 

 

3. What does the angel say about Mary’s Son that makes Him special and what are some of the ways Jesus is different from John the Baptist?  

 

 

4. How is Mary’s reply to the angel a good example for all who claim to be Christians?

 

 

5. How would many churches be different today if every church member had the attitude of Mary each day?

 

 

 

Questions for Discussion and Thinking Further

 

1.     If you were God the Father, what type of girl or woman would you want to choose to be the mother of your only begotten Son?

I would want to choose a young woman I had begun to prepare before she was born. One with parents who would train her in the way she should live as a devout believer in God and follower of the Ten Commandments in a believing and loving family. One who would mature in every way, and one who showed mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional maturity even before the angel visited her. One who would be able to trust in God and find her strength and faith in God the Father through dark days. One who would love her Son and her family and raise her Son to grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and others. One who served others outside of her home and showed hospitality to others.

 

2.     What does the angel say to Mary so she will not be afraid?

He reassures her that she has found favor with God, which would affirm for her at least that she had been living the right way and God did not have any reason to judge or punish her for her behavior. He also affirmed that God would be with her.

 

3.     What does the angel say about Mary’s Son that makes Him special and what are some of the ways Jesus is different from John the Baptist?

He would be called the Son of the Most High God, and He would be conceived without a human father when the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. John was a prophet of the Most High God and John was conceived naturally with supernatural help from God.

 

4.     How is Mary’s reply to the angel a good example for all who claim to be Christians?

She said that she was present and ready to serve God right then whatever God wanted. She humbly called herself a servant of God. She said that she wanted everything in her life to be according to the word of God. Her words probably expressed the state of life in which she lived each day, so her reply came very naturally to her.

 

5.     How would many churches be different today if every church member had the attitude of Mary each day?

 Every church member would be present before the Lord God and ready to serve God and others at the moment God called them. Every church member would study the Bible and try to live like Jesus wants all Christians to live. Every church member would pray to God and pray for each other and try to discover and also do the will of God in all decisions that the church had to make. Every church member would seek to serve God, the church, and others inside and outside the church according to the will of God in the Spirit of God. Everyone would try to serve as a good model of Jesus Christ, as a good Christian, in every circumstance. Every church member would trust completely in God and God’s Word as trustworthy and true.

 

 

 

Word Search

No Words from God Will Fail

Luke 1: 26-38

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Name _____________________

 

W A D J I V W Z S Y H A N Z L

R E I G N T C O N C E I V E J

O Q M R C K R M O D G N I K N

A W V U G A L I L E E Y G D Z

V B D L D R S B C Q V M R B S

D M W E D E G E S U S E J A V

E F O I L R R Y R Z W G Q U M

R H D R C B O E M V H L D N V

O M A B P V U W D T A A Q I C

V Y H A N G S O E N V N U G W

A I S G P E Q R R I O I T R B

F D R O U D A P D T X W X I K

J P E Y W Z J O S E P H N V M

V K V B A K E T D X U V E O B

S G O N Z T U K W T J R C G S

 

 

Gabriel

Nazareth

Galilee

Joseph

David

Mary

Virgin

Favored

Troubled

Wondered

Conceive

Jesus

Son

Reign

Kingdom

Servant

Word

Overshadow

 

 

 

 

True and False Test

No Words from God Will Fail

Luke 1:26-38

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Name ______________________________

 

Circle the true or false answers. Correct the false statements by restating them.

 

1. Gabriel spoke to Mary, Joseph, and Elizabeth. True or False

 

2. Galilee was a small town in Nazareth. True or False

 

3. Mary was a virgin pledged to be married to Joseph. True or False

 

4. Gabriel encouraged Mary and told her that the Lord was with her. True or False

 

5. To help her not be afraid, Gabriel told Mary that she had found favor with God. True or False

 

6. Gabriel told Mary that her child would be the Son of the Most High. True or False

 

7. As the Messiah, Mary’s Son would inherit the throne of Jacob. True or False

 

8. The angel warned Mary that Jesus’ kingdom would end after He died. True or False

 

9. The angel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would overshadow her and she would conceive the Son of God. True or False

 

10. Mary told the angel, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” True or False

 

 

Answers to the True and False Test

Luke 1:26-38

Sunday, December 4, 2016

 

 

1.     False

2.     False

3.     True

4.     True

5.     True

6.     True

7.     False

8.     False

9.     True

10.True

 

 

Prayer

 

Heavenly Father, grant us the wisdom to know Your will for our lives as You strengthen our faith in Your promises. May we realize that Your Word has Your plan: we are to bear fruit for Your kingdom. Grant that we may say yes to every chance to do so. We pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.