SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The book of Luke was written by a doctor and historian of the same name. Many scholars, including archeologist William Ramsey, consider Luke to be one of the most accurate historians in history. Luke's goal was to gather information to write a thorough account of Jesus' life. This book was specifically written to a person named Theophilus, a guy whose name means "lover of knowledge." It is unclear whether this is a real person or a play on words to those who seek to know more about Christ.
- The book opens with an angel appearing to the priest Zechariah. Gabriel informs Zechariah that his wife will become pregnant with a son whom they should name John. John's job will be to prepare the world for the Messiah. However, Zechariah has a hard time believing the angel because his wife is old and infertile. The angel reprimands Zechariah for his disbelief and strikes him mute until the birth of his son. Five months later, Elizabeth finds out she's pregnant and declares that God has taken away her disgrace. Back then, not having children was considered humiliating and a curse from God.
- We then see the angel Gabriel go visit a young woman named Mary. The angel tells Mary, who is a virgin and engaged to a man named Joseph, that she has been chosen to give birth to the Son of God. She responds by stating that she accepts this responsibility and is the Lord's servant. This does not mean she was perfect. The Bible tells us that, other than Jesus, no one is perfect (see Romans 3:23). However, Mary shows an amazing willingness to submit to and serve God.
- The angel Gabriel appeared to two different people with good news. However, it is interesting to compare their reactions. Zechariah, a religious priest, could not believe the angel's message. However, Mary, a young girl of no importance, not only believed the angel, but considered herself blessed to be able to serve. Mary knew this would make her life very difficult. But instead of responding negatively like Zechariah, she chose joy, showing us that God works best through regular people.
- Jesus was born of a woman and was fully human. This means he can relate to us. But Jesus was also born of the Holy Spirit, and therefore fully God.
- Like Mary, we need to have the attitude that we are the Lord's servants and are willing to do what he says and follow his plan. It may induce fear, but God's message is to not be afraid, and that he will help us and bring the plan to life through his Holy Spirit.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Every day we have the opportunity to be like Zechariah or Mary. God wants to work through us in both big and small ways every day, but we can easily miss them if we're not looking or listening. Who do you choose to be like today?
- Are you like Zechariah? When God asks you to do something are you grumpy and unbelieving? Do you do it, but do it begrudgingly? Do you have faith that he will come through? Or do you respond like Mary? Do you thank God for both the challenges and the blessings he sends your way? Do you thank God for the opportunity to serve, even if it's difficult?
- If you were like Mary and willing to submit to and serve God however he wanted, what do you think he'd ask you to do? Is it possible he's already asked you to do something that you're not doing because of fear? Just like the angel Gabriel, God tells you not to fear, because his Holy Spirit will help you to do what he's asked you to do. So, be like Mary, and do it!