Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Sentiments: Lesser to Greater

Sunday Sentiments is an attempt to record what God has been teaching me and the way in which He does it.

Oh my gracious, y'all.  Last night's sermon was crazy good.  I'm still mulling it over.  It's amazing how the verses you've read for years can be turned on their side when a skilled teacher reveals new connections, parallels, and insights.  That happened in spades last night. 

My church started a sermon series on Luke a couple of weeks ago.  Several years ago, I went to a church that studied Luke for a whole year, from the sermons to our weekly small groups.  I learned a lot then so I thought Fellowship's spin might be a nice refresher course.  Then I thought about how much I've learned and grown since joining Fellowship and realized that Luke was probably going to kick my butt in a whole new way.  Michael, Lloyd, and Bill have that kind of skill when it comes to unveiling truth.

Which brings us back to last night.  Lloyd taught on Luke 1:26-38, when the angel appeared to Mary.  Lloyd noted that the Catholic church tends to overvalue Mary's faith while the Protestant church doesn't value it enough.  He pointed out Zechariah's response when the angel appeared to him, which we studied last week in verses 5-25.  Zechariah asked for a sign that what the angel had said would happen would actually happen. His lesser faith rendered him mute until the birth of John the Baptist.

There is purpose in the order of Luke's first chapter.  The announcement that Elizabeth will become pregnant segues into the announcement that Mary will become pregnant.  Elizabeth's pregnancy, while unexpected due to her age and barrenness, is unexpected but not atypical as it's assumed that she and her husband still enjoyed marital relations.  Mary's pregnancy, as a virgin, is both unexpected and impossible as she and her fiance would not have had sex.

Luke mentions John the Baptist first because he prepared the way for Jesus.  John prepared the way for Jesus, who is greater.  Then we have the comparison of Zechariah's faith to Mary's faith.

Similar to our study on Noah over the summer, Lloyd mentions that just as Noah didn't do anything to merit God's favor, nothing in Mary caused God to favor her either.  He chose to grace her.  Just as I hadn't previously realized that Noah wasn't more righteous or better than the rest of folks at that time, I'd always assumed or been taught that Mary was somehow more special and that's why God picked her to be Jesus's mother.  Not the case, however.

Mary's response is worth honing in on.  Mary heard what the angel said and she pondered it.  Then she states in verse 38:
"I am the Lord's servant...May it be to me as you have said."
Mary's declaration that she is the Lord's servant is a statement that she no longer has a personal agenda. Instead of belonging to Joseph, her betrothed, she belongs to God. This statement of faith jeopardized her future with Joseph and her standing with her family and the rest of Nazareth. It didn't matter to her though.  She knew what God had said and that was enough. 

Do I believe that God will do what He says He will do in my own life?

"May it be to me as you have said."  That is faith in spite of all the uncertainty and the sheer impossibility. 

As I was taking all this and more in, Lloyd made the link that I'm still rolling around in my mind.  The baby in Mary's womb will grow to surpass her faith. Jesus probably asked his mother to tell him the story of his birth and how the angel appeared to her.  He most likely knew her response to the angel. "May it be to me as you have said."

What was Christ's response as He prayed on the Mount of Olives just before Judas betrayed Him?
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." Luke 22:42
"Yet not my will but yours be done."

Do you see the parallel between Mary's statement of faith and Christ's?

I pray that I will have a willing heart to listen to what God is telling me and to then act on it.  I pray that Christ will produce great faith in me, to believe that God can still initiate events that are humanly impossible in order to keep His word to me.

The sermon, titled The Annunciation, hasn't been posted yet but I would encourage you to keep an eye out for it here. Well worth listening to.

What do you make of this teaching?  Any other insights into this passage in Luke?


  1. I am reading the book "The Joy of Full Surrender" right now and you basically just summed up the first 5 chapters! All those verses you talked about are in the book. Surrendering our will to him...sooo good! should probably finish your book soon, I really want to read it :)

  2. It's funny but the verse just gives me peace - nothing more. I feel more and more that I need to go with the flow and deal with things as they come...I see that in this verse.


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