Because we’re so familiar with the Christmas story, it’s easy to forget Mary was probably a teenager when Gabriel showed up and told her she would give birth to the Messiah. She wasn’t wealthy. Nazareth was a small town. No one in the Christmas story was “special” by worldly standards. God’s majesty and sacred presence came to a very humble place. Part of the hope of the Christmas story is that God entered into the details of the lives of people who were just faithfully going about their business. As we near the end of a tumultuous year, join us this weekend as we encounter the God who shows up right in the details of our messy lives.
1. The humble setting
- When the story of Jesus opens, the setting is humble. Because we’re so familiar with the Christmas story, it’s easy to forget Mary was probably a teenager. She wasn’t wealthy. Nazareth was a small town. There’s no one in this story that was “special” by worldly standards. The angel came to announce the birth of Messiah to a group of people just living their daily lives. God’s majesty and sacredness came to a very humble place.
- Part of the hope of the Christmas story is God entered into the details of the lives of people who were just faithfully going about their business. All they had to do was be faithful and obedient. God did the rest. He supplied all that they needed, and showed up in miraculous ways.
Describe the circumstances of your life right now. How do you see God involved in the details of your life? Where would you like to see his work more clearly?
2. The promise of the Messiah
- Jesus is the God-Man, and the one mediator between God and mankind. The fact that Jesus was fully God and fully human is hard to wrap our minds around. That’s because Jesus, in his perfection is the only one who could stand in that place.
- Jesus reveals who God is, and he reveals who humans should be.
When Gabriel announces the promise of the Messiah, it’s the beginning of God’s perfect plan. For thousands of years, God had sent promises and messages about the Messiah through his servants, the prophets. Gabriel’s arrival was the sign that those promises were about to be fulfilled by Jesus.
Reflect on some of God’s promises in Scripture and some of the promises he’s given you specifically. Do you trust God’s promises? Does your life demonstrate that trust in the choices you make?
3. The miracle explained
- When Gabriel explains the miracle to Mary, she asks how it can possibly work––because she was a virgin being told she would give birth! Her response is not doubt or faithlessness, it’s practicality. And her question actually demonstrates great faith. She doesn’t question that the miracle will happen, she just wants to know how.
- Even when Gabriel explains the miracle, it still doesn’t make sense in a way we can understand with human wisdom, but Mary trusted God. God isn’t going to give us all the details, and his answers might not satisfy all of our questions. At the end of the day, whether or not it makes sense, all we can do is trust the Lord.
Is there anything in your life that feels truly impossible right now? How can you trust God with that?
4. The surrendered life
- Mary doesn’t lean on her own understanding. She surrenders to God’s wisdom, even though she doesn’t fully understand what is happening to her. She presents herself in humility as a willing servant, and that was all that was required: her humility and willingness. She didn’t need to have it all figured out, she just needed to believe that God had it all figured out.
- When God wants to do a work, he’s going to do it, no matter what barriers and obstacles are apparent to us. They might seem impossible to us, but when God wants to work, nothing is impossible. We don’t need to have it all figured out. We just need to bring our humility and our surrender and trust that God has it all figured out.
Surrender is giving up control (or our attempts to control) our circumstances. How do you need to give up control in your life?
Optional Follow-up Questions:
- What makes you say that?
- How do you feel about that?
- How would you explain your answer to a non-Christian friend or neighbor?
- Why did God design it to work that way? Why not just do (whatever else) instead?
- What would you say to someone who disagrees with that?
- Why do we really have to do it like that? Why can’t we just go (some other route) instead?