He Came: Mary's Did You Know?
He Came: Mary's Did You Know?
Do You Handle Unexpected News With Fear or Faith?
Illustration: Breaking Into Camp
In September of 1940, Witold Pilecki, a Polish army captain (Show pilecki 1), did the unthinkable—he snuck into Auschwitz. That's right, into Auschwitz. Pilecki knew that something was terribly wrong with the concentration camp and as a committed (Roman Catholic) Christian and a Polish patriot he couldn't sit by and watch. He wanted to get information on the horrors of Auschwitz, but he knew he could only do that from the inside.
So his superiors approved a daring plan. They provided a false identity card with a Jewish name, and then Pilecki allowed the Germans to arrest him during a routine Warsaw street roundup. Pilecki was sent to Auschwitz and assigned inmate number 4859 (show pilecki 2) . Pilecki, a husband and father of two, later said, "I bade farewell to everything I had known on this earth." He became just like any other prisoner—despised, beaten, and threatened with death. From inside the camp he wrote, "The game I was now playing at Auschwitz was dangerous …. In fact, I had gone far beyond what people in the real world would consider dangerous."
But beginning in 1941, prisoner number 4859 started working on his dangerous mission. He organized the inmates into resistance units, boosting morale and documenting the war crimes. Pilecki used couriers to smuggle out detailed reports on the atrocities. By 1942, he had also helped organize a secret radio station using scrap parts. The information he supplied from inside the camp provided Western allies with key intelligence information about Auschwitz.
In the spring of 1943, Pilecki joined the camp bakery where he was able to overpower a guard and escape. Once free, he finished his report, estimating that around 2 million souls had been killed at Auschwitz. When the reports reached London, officials thought he was exaggerating. Of course today we know he was right.
Here's how a contemporary Jewish journal summarized Pilecki's life: "Once he set his mind to the good, he never wavered, never stopped. He crossed the great human divide that separates knowing the right thing from doing the right thing." In his report Pilecki said, "There is always a difference between saying you will do something and actually doing it. A long time before, many years before, I had worked on myself in order to be able to fuse the two." The current Polish Ambassador to the U.S. described Pilecki as a "diamond among Poland's heroes."
Some two thousand years ago, God broke into human history much in the same way Pileki broke into Auschwitz. God knew that the world was a broken place. The world had slipped into wickedness and evil and it was time for rescue mission. So, what did God do. He sent His son. Jesus looked like us. We took him in and He lived among us. However, Jesus had no intention of breaking out, He stayed and He died. He was the rescue mission and the rescue happened before our very eyes.
We discover more about the story of Christ’s birth in Luke 1:26-38
The story picks up in the 6th month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Elizabeth was cousin to Mary. These two women, their families and their countrymen lived under Roman rule. It was a brutal and dark time for Jewish people as Rome was a military power who ruled with brutality. You will remember that Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt because Roman political figures wished to kill him. Recall that it was Herod, a Roman governor, who ordered all the children under 2 be butchered to prevent Jesus from coming to power.
God sends Gabriel to Nazareth to deliver to Mary a message of terrifying proportion. She is pregnant. This news is problematic as Mary is engaged to be married. Under Levitical law, Joseph could have had Mary stoned. No doubt she was fearing the worst. Yet, the angel offers Mary comfort and hope.
Understand the message of the newly arriving Messiah is not just for Mary. This message brings us hope even today. Let’s read it together.
Luke 1:26-38 (NIV)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! 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 favor 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 forever; 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 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.
Mary's Story Is Our Encouragement
I. Mary’s Interruption vs. 26-28
Luke 1:26-28 (NIV)
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, 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.  The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Gabriel’s Message Was…
Just look at all this information we discover in these verses. We discover details about Mary’s extended family. We discover information about where Mary is from. We even discover Mary’s status, she is a virgin pledged to be married. This is some very intimate knowledge that is on display.
Many times when God interrupts our lives, it is very personal. This is because God knows us inside and out. He knows what we need to hear and when we need to hear it. He knows the ways to get our attention because He is the one who created us.
When is the last time that God spoke to you personally? Was it in church? Were you driving a car? Did God speak to you when you made a mistake or did you hear His voice in a moment of triumph? God is always communicating to us in very unique and distinctive ways. We must be good listeners. We must keep a sharp eye to discover His ways.
Know this, God’s will is not a secret. He is not playing a game with you. I have spoken to dozens of people who are mystified as to what God wants them to do. Friends, the problem is not God, it is us. We are just not looking in the right place or we are engaged in some distracting behavior.
Are you listening like Mary listened? Do you hear His voice? He is speaking to you today?
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Wow, can you imagine an angel visiting you? Pretty unbelievable. Yet the angel gives Mary some amazing words pointed right at her spirit. God is with you. Wait, if God is with Mary, could He be with me as well? The answer is absolutely yes. Mary was an unbelievably obedient person to God. God’s presence was predicated by Mary’s obedience. We know that Jesus places a high value on obedience. Listen to His Words:
John 13:17 ESV
If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
"If you love me, you will obey what I command.
John 14:23 ESV
Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
You are my friends if you do what I command.
He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
You get the point. So, why did God come to Mary in the first place? Why was she so favored by Him? Can God come to us and show favor to us? The answers to these questions all hinge on our ability to be obedient to God’s direction in our lives.
Pastor, that is easy to do until God asks me to do something difficult.
Thats a good point. However we know that God was going to demand Mary do something enormously difficult. Mary showed unbelievable character and heart. She displayed amazing obedience. When the Lord gives us pointed instruction or direction, are we that obedient?
Mary shows her love of God by being completely obedient to His call on her life.
I John 5:3 ESV
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
I. Mary’s Interruption vs. 26-28
II. God’s Incarnation vs. 31-33
 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 forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Illustration: Preparing For Beyonce
In the midst of her one particular starlet’s world tour, her rider from her tour leaked to the press. Now, I would share the name of this person, but honestly I don’t want to be an advertisement. For the record, a rider is a document that lists the expectations of the star from her hosts. The Daily Star reportedly scooped up a copy of the list, which included the following demands:
- All crew members must wear 100 percent cotton clothing.
- Alkaline water must be chilled to 21 degrees and served with $900 titanium straws.
- Bathrooms must have new toilet seats and red toilet paper at every venue.
- Hand-carved ice balls should be made after each show to cool her throat.
- Newly refurbished, luxury dressing rooms with enough space that's typically used to accommodate entire sports teams.
Of course this one particular singer songstress isn't the only famous or wealthy person (or ordinary person like us) who makes outlandish requests. In sharp contrast, when Jesus came to earth, he demanded nothing—except for a cattle stall. A Christian from the 4th century (Theodotus of Ancyra) explained it like this: In the Incarnation, God "chose surroundings that were poor and simple, so ordinary as to be almost unnoticed, so that people would know it was the Godhead alone that had changed the world."
Gabriel’s Information Leads To Mary’s Inspiration!
A. Jesus Is Preexistent
John 17:5 NIV
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
B. Jesus Is God In Person
Colossians 1:15-16 NIV
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
C. Jesus Is A Provider (Life Giver)
II Corinthians 5:17 NIV
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
D. Jesus Is Productive (Miracle Giver)
John 20:30-31 NIV
30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
E. Jesus Is Powerful (Ruler and Sin Eraser)
Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
John 1:29 NIV
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
Isaiah 53:3 NIV
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
I. Mary’s Interruption vs. 26-28
II. God’s Incarnation vs. 31-33
III. Mary’s Inclination vs. 29 and 38
 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 favor with God.
 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Illustration: The Answer of A Girl
Frederick Buechner's little book of character sketches of people from the Bible has this to say about the angel Gabriel as he encounters Mary: "She struck him as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone this child. But he had been entrusted with a message to give her, and he gave it. He told her what the child was to be named, who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. 'You mustn't be afraid, Mary,' he said. As he said it, he only hoped she wouldn't notice that beneath the great golden wings, he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of Creation hung on the answer of a girl."
You can imagine what Mary must have been thinking. “Why me?” How in the world was she going to pull this off. Notice her first response is fear.
You know, there is a lot of fear in the Bible. Usually fear gives birth to doubt. Let’s look though Scripture together. God calls Abraham to move through Egypt. Abraham responds with fear and then fear gives birth to Abraham doubting God’s ability to protect his family. This doubt leads to lying to Pharaoh about Sarah his wife being his sister.
What about Sarah. She hears God’s promise of a son. She fears the worst and begins to doubt God’s ability to bring forth life from her old body.
The list goes on…
Moses was fearful and doubtful at the burning bush.
Joshua was fearful and doubtful too.
Then there is David. David sins and his sin brings forth fear. His fear is amplified by his doubt that God is sufficient to see his deeds which eventually leads to murder.
Plenty of New Testament characters were fearful and doubting too…
Joseph was afraid and doubted.
Peter was afraid and doubted.
There was even a disciple named Thomas. He was even given the moniker “doubting Thomas”.
The disciples were all guilty of being afraid and doubt in Jesus.
What about John Mark, he was fearful and doubted.
So, what’s my point, being fearful is not a sin. Even Jesus was afraid in the garden. Yet, when we allow that fear to give birth to doubt in God’s power to sustain us, provide for us or even protect us, that is sin. Mary responded to the angel in fear, but she did not allow the fear to plant a seed of doubt in her spirit. She did not allow the fear to germinate into sinful doubt.
Mary responded in faith. She responded in obedience.
How do you respond to the challenges of life?
Illustration: God Is Great
The Peace Speaker & the Problem Solver!
The Miracle Worker & the Heart Mender!
He's my Provider & my Supplier!
He's my Shepherd & my Song!
He's my Sword & my Shield!
He's the Healer of all my diseases!
The Forgiver of all my iniquities!
He is Holy & Highly Exalted!
He is Merciful & He is Majestic!
There is nothing too hard for Him!
He's the Overseer of the Overcomers,
The Captain of Our Salvation,
He is Altogether Lovely,
And Jesus is His Name!
Herod couldn't kill him,
Learned men could not baffle Him,
Politicians could not bribe Him,
And Pharisees couldn't trick him!
Pilot couldn't touch Him,
The devil couldn't budge Him,
The cross couldn't keep Him,
And the grave couldn't hold Him!
There is no Sickness that He Cannot Cure!
He's bigger than:
Aids or Alzheimer's
Arthritis or anorexia
Bulimia or bursitis
Cataracts or cancer
Depression or diabetes
Emphysema or Epilepsy
Hepatitis or Heart disease
Melanoma or Migraines
Turberculosis or Tendonitis!
Perhaps you feel like the seed of fear is germinating into doubt. Don’t let it happen. God is bigger than any problem. He will answer you and will show favor to you if you are obedient to His direction.
Psalm 46:1-3 NIV
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
Let The Incarnation Be Your Inspiration!