Connections 12.20.2020: Faithful to Send Jesus

Luke 1:26-38

I thought about opening with these words: “Put yourself in Mary’s place.” But then I realized that we can’t do that.

That’s because Mary’s position in God’s plan of salvation is unique. Only she bore the Christ child. Only she delivered him into the world. Only she was Jesus’ mother. Only she had that unique relationship with him. There was only one Mary, and only she did what she did.

On the other hand, we need to be careful not to downplay our own role in what God is doing through Jesus.

We should remember something that happens later in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus’ mother and brothers want to see Jesus, but they can’t get to him because he is surrounded by so many people. When someone tells Jesus that his family members want to see him, he replies, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it” (8:21).

We are Jesus’ close family members when we receive God’s word in ways that show up in our lives. We are his mother and sisters and brothers when we take God’s will and ways to heart so that we follow them. We are his family members when we respond to God’s call willingly and faithfully.

When the angel Gabriel tells Mary what God wants to do through her, she wants to know how such a thing can be. After Gabriel tells her more, Mary says, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”

We’ll have questions too. We’ll wonder how God can work through us. We’ll wonder why God would even want to. But what matters is that we say, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” It also matters that we mean it. It furthermore matters that we want God’s will to be done in and through us no matter what it requires.

What such obedience and faithfulness looks like varies from person to person because each of us is unique. Still, one thing it will mean is that our lives will change in ways that reflect our close relationship with Jesus. People will notice the family resemblance.

At this time of year we sing these words: “O holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today.”

The same hymn declares that “Christ is born of Mary.“ Mary grew large with Jesus until she had to release him into the world.

May Jesus’ presence in us grow to fill us so fully that he emerges from us into the world too.

Discussion

  • Mary doesn’t seem as surprised that an angel appeared to her as she does by what he said. Why do you think Gabriel’s greeting perplexed Mary?
  • When Zechariah questioned Gabriel about how Elizabeth could give birth to John, the angel takes Zechariah’s voice away. But when Mary questions how she can give birth, Gabriel further explains. How might the two questions differ? Why might Gabriel’s response differ?
  • What might it mean that Mary has “found favor with God” (v. 30)? What would it mean for you to find favor with God? Would it be a privilege or a responsibility?
  • Why does Gabriel tell Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy?

Michael Ruffin is husband to Debra, father to Joshua (Michelle) and Sara (Benjamin), grandfather to Sullivan and Isabella. A graduate of Mercer University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he has previously served as a pastor and as a university professor. He lives on the Ruffin Family Farm in Yatesville, Georgia. He is the Connections Series Curriculum Editor.

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