- Sermon Notes
The Promised One: When God Provides a Change of Plans
Read: Luke 1:26-38
From Luke 1:26, we learn that the angel Gabriel came to Mary in the “sixth month.” The “sixth month” is a reference to what was recorded earlier in Luke chapter 1. In verses 5 to 25, the Lord sent a message through the same angel, Gabriel, to an old priest named Zechariah, revealing that he and his wife Elizabeth were going to have a son in their old age, this son would be named John, and he was the forerunner of the Messiah. The announcement marked the end of 400 years of prophetic silence, to a nation that had been waiting for the promised Messiah.
Just as written on the Scriptures hundreds of years earlier, a messenger was going to clear a way before the Lord (Malachi 3:1), he would make ready a people prepared for the Lord (Luke 1:17). Zechariah was told that the prophesied forerunner who would prepare the way for the Savior, is going to be their son John. We looked last week at how God’s giving a child to a couple that is referred to as “well stricken” in age, seemed impossible, even to a seasoned priest as he prayed.
We ended our study of the first section of Luke chapter one with a point that was centered on what to do about God’s plans. The point specifically was, “Accept God’s plans as Prepared.” We looked at the plans God had prepared for Elizabeth and Zechariah, but also our opportunity to trust God’s plans, even when we don’t understand.
And as things fast forward to six months in the future, and the scene shifts from God doing what seemed impossible things in the life of an old priest, now we see that God is going to continue with things that seem an impossibility in the life of a young woman named Mary. It is a visit from the angel Gabriel again, and to Mary, he will provide information surrounding a change of plans God was preparing for her.
Gabriel is quite the angel in Scripture. He was entrusted to deliver several messages on God’s behalf in both the Old and New Testaments. He appeared to Daniel in the Old Testament twice (Daniel 8:15; 9:21) and some suggest a third time in Daniel 10. He had revealed God’s will to give a son to Elizabeth and Zechariah, and now, six months later, to Mary.
Mary was around the age of 14 years old when she meets Gabriel, she was a virgin, and had already been betrothed (engaged) to a man named Joseph. After we read a short description and read Gabriel’s greeting to her, we then read of when she first learned of God’s change to her plans.
Luke 1:30-33, The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 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; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
In a matter of three short verses, Mary learned some amazing things. She had found favor with God, she was going to have a child, bear a Son, she would name Him Jesus.
This announcement was not just any announcement. This was an announcement to the mother of the promised and prophesied Messiah. Last week we looked at many of the Old Testament promises surrounding the Messiah, the Savior who was to come. That he would one day crush the head of the serpent, satan himself (Genesis 3). All the nations be blessed through Him (Genesis 18). That He would come through the line of Judah (Gen. 49:10), and more specifically a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:13). The Lord had told David that One of his descendants to come, would have a kingdom established by God, and that kingdom would be established forever. His kingdom would have no end (Is. 9:6-7, Revelation 11:15).
Luke 1:34-38, Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 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. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” 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 had questions, but what she was told and then knew was that the conclusion of those questions was wrapped up in the fact that God was going to do what only He could do. Based upon what she now knew that the Lord was calling her to bear and birth Jesus Christ, that Jesus is the Son of the Most High, she decides to place her plans in God’s Hands, saying “may it be done in my life.”
God’s plan for her life, would surely represent a change in the plans she was preparing, but what we see is that Mary willingly accepted the plans God had prepared, and she accepted them as prepared. There were clear and present challenges that would have come with these changes, but Mary modeled several key opportunities for you and me when God prepares and provides plan changes in our lives. I want to look at three of those opportunities this morning.
- Choose His Changes
- After hearing God’s plan, Mary chooses God’s changes to her whatever plans she may have had in place by saying in verse 38, “may it be done to me.” In her responding this way, she would put many of her plans at risk.
- For starters, her impending marriage.
- In Bible times, Jewish marriage customs regarding a couple’s engagement were much more formal and stringent than what we know today. Marriages were arranged by the parents of the bride and groom, often without consulting the couple. In this arrangement, the groom’s parents would pay a bride price and it was immediately deemed binding, they were pledged to one another, often for many years.
- Betrothal could only be voided by death or divorce. It lasted a year and was a time whereby the bride would prove her faithfulness and purity, while the husband was to prepare a home for his bride-to-be.
- In Mary’s responding to what she knew the Lord was calling her to, These plans were at risk.
- In fact, we know from Matthew 1:19, that when Joseph finds out, his first response will be to put together a plan of his own into place to divorce her quietly.
- As Mary said “let it be,” there were also societal consequences. If Joseph did not believe her story, she could potentially have been stoned to death, if he chose not to marry her, she would most likely have remained unmarried for life.
- If her own father rejected her, she could be forced into begging, or prostitution in order to earn her living. Risked being called a liar, crazy or worse.
- Still Mary chose God’s changes in her life.
- From verse 34 we know, however, that Mary did have some questions: Specifically, “how can this be, since I am a virgin?”
- The fact that the Messiah would be born of a virgin was prophesied in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 7:14, The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son and will call him Immanuel.
- What is being revealed to Mary is that she is the virgin Isaiah once prophesied. She now knew what was happening, the Messiah was coming, she would give birth to Him; yet she found herself curious as to how it was all going to happen? How would it be possible? She is not in unbelief, but rather wondering how it all would come to be.
- Gabriel responds to her by tell her that it was something the Lord was going to do. The Holy Spirit would make this happen.
- The angel then gives testimony of what was happening in the life of her relative Elizabeth who was called barren but was not called and commission by God to bear a child in her old age.
- The conclusion? Nothing was impossible with God!
- When God provides changes to the plans we are preparing in our own lives, her question seems a question we all might have, how is this going to happen?
Illus. All set.
Job 42:2, I know that You can do all things, and that no plan is impossible for You.
- In doing so, she asks, how will I do this without what seems to be necessary, a man?
- So often, when it comes to the things we see in Scripture, we fix our eyes on the natural situation and circumstance. We look for a person to bring about the fulfillment of God’s will, rather than looking to God to pull off the changes He is providing.
Illus. What’s the plan?
- Many often get stuck on verse 34, “How can this be?” and never quite get all the way to verse 38 declaring “may it be done to me” in and over our lives.
- When God provides change or plans, choose His changes.
- Head Where You Can Hear the Blessings in Believing
- In verse 38, Gabriel departs, and in verse 39, so does Mary. Mary heard Gabriel say to her that her relative, Elizabeth, who was once barren, was in the sixth month of her pregnancy.
Luke 1:39, Now at this time Mary set out and went in a hurry to the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
- When Mary heard the news, she hurried to the hill country. It is interesting that she hurries there to her old relative’s house. Why would she go there? Why the hurry?
- It seems to me that Mary knew that the only person who would understand a 14-year-old being told by God that the Son of God was going to be conceived in her and it would happen by the power of the Holy Spirit, would be a woman who herself had just conceived miraculously.
- Elizabeth was 6-months ahead of Mary in the miraculous. She was six months ahead in saying yes to what the Lord desired to do in her life. She was six months ahead in seeing her plans in God’s hands, and she goes there.
- Who else would understand?
- The trip she took from Nazareth to Judea was around 60 miles. She would journey alone to get there, but when she arrived, she would not be alone.
Luke 1:40-45, When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord would come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord.”
- As soon as Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting, her baby (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
- The Holy Spirit revealed two things to Elizabeth in that moment, first that Mary was pregnant, and secondly, the identity of the Baby.
- Before any sit-down conversations of explanation, or any announcement of her own, Elizabeth cried out to Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” “How has it happened to me that the mother of my Lord would come to me!”
- Elizabeth knows that the Lord is who Mary is carrying in her womb, and because of her belief in what was spoken to her by God, Elizabeth calls her blessed.
- Mary’s blessing was found in her willingness to believe that God would fulfill what He had revealed to her.
- To believe is to think something to be true, to be persuaded of it, to credit, to place confidence in something.
- Elizabeth calls her blessed. It is a word that means to make happy, to bestow blessings on, to be favored of God.
- It is a blessing tied to believing God. In Galatians chapter 3 we read about Abraham, who believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness, that by faith and belief people would be justified…and in Galatians 3:9, So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
- Through Mary’s response of believing the news of Jesus Christ in her life, she was blessed.
- We too are blessed when we believe God.
Ephesians 1:3, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.
- In Matthew 13:16, Jesus told His disciples “blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear.”
- Mary heard the word of the Lord for her life, and she believed it. She was blessed in believing.
- As she believed, she hurried to the place where here faith would be built and encouraged!
- She pursued Elizabeth, a relative who was also experiencing the blessings of believing.
- When you make a decision for Christ, there will always be doubters, always be detractors, always those who will counsel you a different way.
Proverbs 13:20, One who walks with wise people will be wise, but a companion of fools will suffer harm.
1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Psalm 26:4-5, I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites. I hate the gatherings of those who do evil, and I refuse to join in with the wicked. (NLT)
Psalm 1:1-3, Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and on His Law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree planted by streams of water. Which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, Encourage one another and build one another up…
Hebrews 10:23-25, Let’s hold firmly to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let’s consider how to encourage one another in love and good deeds, not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
III. Rejoice in What He Reveals
- The reality is, the Lord was bringing about great blessing, but what was being revealed was also an interruption to plans Mary had been preparing in her life.
- The announcement would come with many realities. She was pregnant, the baby would grow, everyone would know about it. For the rest of her life she will have a stigma. Jesus at one time will be referred to as born of fornication. But Mary was willing to let the will of the Lord be, despite any questions or insults that might one day start coming.
- In verses 46 to 55, we read her first recorded words after her initial response to let the will of the Lord be done in her life. It is referred to as the Magnificat or Mary’s song.
Luke 1:46-55, And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bond-servant; for behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. His mercy is to generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has given help to His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, just as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
- Mary lifted up her voice in spontaneous praise. And her words of praise are filled with what she knew God’s word had to say. There are at least 15 references to Scripture in her prayer.
- With her song in response to Lord’s change to her plans, magnified the Lord and rejoiced in God her Savior.
Psalm 34:1-3, I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.
- When God brought a change to her plans, she took His hand and magnified Him.
- In verse 47, she rejoiced in Him. This is defined in the Greek as she “jumped for joy…or she was exceedingly glad.”
- She did not have all the details ironed out, but she was welcomed further into God’s will. And she knew that as she surrendered her plans, God would bring her closer to His good and perfect will.
Illus. Romans 12:1-2; postured for God’s good and perfect will.
Illus. A New Plan.