Sunday School Material 12-1-13: The Angel Foretells of Jesus' Birth

(Luke 1:26-40; 12/1/13)

Introduction::A key idea in today’s Sunday School material is that God sends an angel to tell Mary about the birth of Jesus and she accepts her role. Prayerfully, we will be challenged to accept what God has planned for our lives.

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Read Luke 1:26-29

I. Humble Setting. During Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent Gabriel to Mary. The angel greets whom we would call Joseph’s fiancé announcing that she was highly favored.  Mary is troubled by the greeting.

Applications -

- Angels. Notice in vs. 26 of the Sunday School material that the angel obeyed God’s instructions to tell Mary about Jesus. First, an angel in the Bible is not pictured as winged people with haloes over their head.

They are messengers. It is in this sense that Pastors are sometimes called angels of the house - messengers.

Second, the angel went to Nazareth to talk with Mary. Nazareth was far from an affluent community. Mary was probably a young virgin who was cooperating with a prearranged marriage.

But yet this is whom the Lord has chosen (i.e., notice the talking to the woman and not the man) and the place that God has chosen. Thank God for the obedience of the angel.

Let’s work on appreciating God’s sending messengers to places that lack prestige and to people who seem to be unlikely candidates for special assignments.

As believers, we should let God use us as angels and messengers to those in places like Nazareth and who have a social status of low expectation like Mary.

Read Luke 1:30-33

II. Surprising Announcement. In our Sunday School material the angel tells Mary to not be afraid. She is to give birth to Jesus. Jesus is going to reign over Jacob’s descendants forever.

Applications -

- Faith over fear. Notice in vs. 30 that the angel tells Mary to not be afraid. She is called to believe that she has found favor with God. In like manner, we are called to develop and live by our faith, instead of feeding and living by our fears.

There are many things that we don’t understand; however, we have a God who takes care of us, in spite of our lack of understanding.

Let’s work on developing and living by faith, instead of fear. Prayerful Bible study, obedience, and the support of other disciples can help us with faith development.

- God the promise keeper. Notice in vss. 31-33 that God makes and keeps big promises. First, Jesus did not simply happen up. God promised and saw that the promised was fulfilled. Second, Jesus is the spiritual ruler now and we yet await His physical ruler-ship on the Earth.

Let’s live like we believe that God is a promise keeper. Such living should include obeying what God told us to do and avoiding any breath of His instructions.

It is inconsistent to talk about Jesus being Lord and God being such a promise keeper and then we don’t even trust Him to honor His promise regarding our giving to Him in proportion to how He has given to us.

Read Luke 1:34-37

III. Unparalleled Explanation. In our Sunday School material Mary asks how this can happen, since she is a virgin. The angel explains that the Holy Spirit will come upon her. Elizabeth is an example of how God can do great things.

Applications -

- God’s miraculous power. Notice in vss. 34-37 that God is able to perform great miracles. He is able to cause an aged woman to bear a child. And He is able to cause a young virgin woman to have a child.

We may never be satisfied with the social justice issues related to the Holy Spirit getting a woman pregnant and leaving Joseph to father the son.

The point of the narrative is not an examination of social justice but to point to the miraculous power of God and how such is being used for our benefit.

In similar fashion, God is still able to perform miracles that serve our benefit. Let’s live like we believe that God is still able to perform miracles for us. Such living should be known for obedience and hope that goes beyond what we see.

Read Luke 1:38-40

IV. Faithful Reaction. Mary accepts the prophecy as a servant of God. We see in our Sunday School material that the angel leaves. Mary makes her way to Zechariah’s house to talk with Elizabeth.

Applications -

- Servanthood. Notice in vs. 38 of the Sunday School material that Mary responds as a good servant. She essentially says to the angel, “let God have His way.”

First, this is a great model of what every believer should do, when God is calling us to do something for Him. There may still be unanswered questions, but we should learn to simply trust God, even when we don’t understand everything.

Second, Mary’s servanthood in the text makes it embarrassing to have formal discussion in our churches about can women serve as ordained servants/Deaconesses in our churches.

The tension around ordaining a Deaconess may have more to do with thinking that Deaconship is focused on power than on the issue of formally recognizing mature and trained servants in the church.

Let’s work on being submissive servants to God’s will and recognizing those who fit the bill of being an ordained servant (i.e., Deacon and Deaconesses) in the church.

- Supportive relationships. Notice in vss. 39-40 that it is good to have people to talk to about what God is doing in your life. Mary had an Elizabeth.

There are too many people in our churches who have too few people to talk to about what God is doing in their lives. Let’s work on being more relational in our churches.

This is a step higher than simply being friendly. Friendly is noted for smiling, shaking hands, and greeting people whose names you may not even know. Relationship is about getting in touch with each other’s values, goals, and needs.

Conclusion: Let’s work on accepting what God has planned for our lives. God has much for those who obey His will.

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