Sermon Outline On Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Frederick Buechner’s little book of character sketches of people from the Bible has this to say about the angel Gabriel as he encounters Mary: “She struck him as hardly old enough to have a child at all, let alone this child. But he had been entrusted with a message to give her, and he gave it. He told her what the child was to be named, who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. ‘You mustn’t be afraid, Mary,’ he said. As he said it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great golden wings, he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of Creation hung on the answer of a girl.”(1)
The response of Mary that day has been an example to centuries of women and men. Mary was a witness to the faith that God expects in us. Buechner paints such a vivid image of the young, innocent Mary and the significance of her response. She was going to be the mother of the Son of God. She would give birth to the Savior of the world.
Did she have any idea of what laid ahead? Was it necessary for her to know the events that were to occur in the next 33 years? Could she give her answer without more information? How often do we want more information before making our response? Did Mary have any idea what she was getting into?
There is a contemporary song that asks a similar question, Mary Did You Know. Listen to its words:
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you’ve delivered will soon deliver you.
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little Baby you’ve kissed the face of God.
The blind will see. / The deaf will hear. / The dead will live again.
The lame will leap. / The dumb will speak / The praises of The Lamb.
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your Baby Boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping Child you’re holding is the Great I Am.(2)
Mary had no idea how significant her response would be. This amazing story of a faithful response from Mary begins with the words, “In the sixth month.” It is a reference to the sixth month of pregnancy of Elizabeth. Luke begins his gospel with the story of the angel revealing to Zechariah, the husband of Elizabeth, that his prayers had been answered. They would have a son. Yes! In their advanced years, the impossible would be possible. Mary is given a sign. That which seems impossible is possible.
When Mary asks, “How is this possible? I am a virgin.” Gabriel tells her about Elizabeth. Gabriel gives her a sign to say, “What seems impossible is possible.” Gabriel then says to Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
“Nothing will be impossible with God.” That is what the angel promised Mary. Elizabeth wasn’t too old to have a baby, or Mary too virginal. God turns impossibilities into possibilities.
As a young girl in the 1920s, Lois Secrist felt a call to the mission field, but instead she got married and stayed home. When her husband died in 1988, Lois felt the call again, but said, “Lord, I’m too old to go now. I can’t do this.”
But God continued to call, and finally Lois answered. She went to the Philippines while in her eighties, and she established an orphanage for 35 children. Each of the children had been in desperate need before coming to the orphanage. Some were victims of parental abuse. Others were begging on the streets. For those 35 children, the orphanage was a gift of life.
When Lois decided to answer her call, she found no denomination that was willing to offer financial support. They told her exactly what she had told God — “Lois, you’re too old to go now. You can’t do this.” But she went anyway. She found people who were willing to help, and she answered her call. It would not be an exaggeration to say that she has saved 35 lives. Thirty-five children are safe and healthy because an old woman believed that nothing was impossible with God.
Lois says, “I serve a mighty God. He’s in control. I feel I’m not talented enough to do any of this. But God enables me. My responsibility is to do what I can.”(3)
Glyn Evans once wrote in Leadership magazine, “God must reserve for Himself the right of the initiative, the right to break into my life without question or explanation. That shattering phone call, that disturbing letter … may indeed be the first stage of God’s interruption in my life. … Since God does the initiating, He must be responsible for the consequences.”(4)
God breaks into our lives without question or explanation. Someone needs our help-a ride to the doctor’s office, food to eat, a place to sleep, a kind word, a phone call that says, “I remember,” a visit, a note.
God breaks into our lives without notice or even asking if it is convenient. There are 20 new churches to be started and we are asked to help make their ministry possible. Our university students sit among the pans catching water from a leaking roof. They are crammed into space that is too small. The question we must ask is, “God are you talking to me?”
Gabriel told Mary “what the child was to be named, who he was to be, and something about the mystery that was to come upon her. ‘You mustn’t be afraid, Mary,’ he said. As he said it, he only hoped she wouldn’t notice that beneath the great golden wings, he himself was trembling with fear to think that the whole future of Creation hung on the answer of a girl.”
I can see Gabriel right now. Looking at us and thinking, “You want them to do what?” He trembles as he thinks about the whole future of Creation hanging on OUR answer.
God broke into the lives of Mary and Joseph. William Barclay says that Mary chose not to pray the world’s most common prayer, “Thy will be changed,” but instead chose to pray the world’s greatest prayer, “Thy will be done.”(5) Is God calling us to something specific, something impossible? What will our response be? Which prayer will we choose?
1. Ben Patterson, “A Faith Like Mary’s,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 87.
2. Mary, Did You Know, Words by: Mark Lowry, Music by: Buddy Greene
3. Gail Wood, “Mission Delayed,” Virtue, June/July 1999; found in SermonWriter for Advent 4B, Richard Donovan
4. W. Glyn Evans, Leadership, Vol. 4, no. 1.
5. William Barcley, The Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of Luke, The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975, 13.