Could anyone accuse you of being so “heavenly minded that you are no earthly good?” How often do you think about and mediate on eternal things? Robert Lewis defines one of characteristics of Biblical manhood is “One who lives for the greater reward.” One who is willing to live with delayed gratification… not seeking the fulfillment of all their temporary desires, here and now! Unfortunately too many of us are so earthly minded, that we are no heavenly good! What we want today hinders us from living for what God has promised in the future.
The Passage: Luke 1:26-38
In my Christmas message I shared a few things from this passage regarding Mary’s situation that seem appropriate to review. In Luke 1:27 we read that the angel came to a virgin named Mary, who was engaged to be married to a man names Joseph. What did this mean for Mary? Engagement involved 3 things.
- First, a contract drawn up by the parents or by the friend of the bridegroom. – No consent of the girl was necessary.
- Second, the meeting of the two families concerned, with other witnesses, at which time the groom gave the bride jewelry (Gen. 24:53) and declared his intention to observe the terms of the contract already arranged.
- Third, the payment of the mōhar (4119) by the prospective bridegroom. This occurred during a ceremony at which a priest may have been present. The status of the man and woman was now, as in Hebrew times, practically the same as that of married persons
Once this contract was final, she was not allowed to be engaged to any other man without a legal divorce, and any violation of the contract was as serious as if the two had been ceremonially married.
There is no clear evidence that the young woman had any right of appeal as to her family’s choice. The bridegroom himself did not conduct the negotiations, but the matter was in the hands of a third party such as his parents or some trusted servant or friend.
Here’s the picture. Mary has just been “engaged.” She has entered into this contract, this agreement, that she is wholly and completely set apart to marry Joseph. The only way to get out of it would be a legal divorce. She had no choice in the matter. It was all arranged, and “set in stone.” It is at this point the angel comes!
Fruchenbaum identifies 5 specific points in the angels message to Mary:
- Virgin Birth – The angel did not mention Joseph, nor did he mention marriage, and from Mary’s response in Luke 1:34, it is clear that she understood what he was declaring: She would conceive and bear a son in her virgin state (Lk. 1:30-33). The meaning of Genesis 3:15 and Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin conception and birth in Isaiah 7:14 now became clear. God would become incarnate; He was going to become a man in the person of Jesus, the Son of Mary.
- The Messiah’s Name – The angel’s second point pertained to her son’s name: Mary was to call Him Yeshua (Jesus). His actual name comes from a Hebrew root that means “to save,” “salvation,” or “savior.
- He Shall Be Great
- His Deity – Gabriel’s fourth point was that the Messiah would be called the Son of the Most High (Lk. 1:32a). Mary’s son, Yeshua, will not be merely a man, He will be the God-Man. At the moment of conception, the second Person of the Trinity will add to His divine nature a human nature, thus becoming the biological descendant of Adam, Abraham, and David.
- He will fulfill the Davidic Covenant – (I Chr. 17:11-14). In this covenant, God promised David four specific things: an eternal throne, an eternal house or dynasty, an eternal kingdom, and an eternal descendant. He would settle this descendant in His house and His kingdom forever, and He would call Him His son. According to Gabriel’s message, Miriam’s son is the one who will fulfill all four aspects of the Davidic Covenant.
- Luke 1:32b The Lord shall give him the THRONE of his father David
- Luke 1:33a He shall reign over the HOUSE of Jacob FOREVER
- Luke 1:33b His KINGDOM shall never end
- Luke 1:32, 35 He shall be the Son of the Most High… He shall be called the Son of God (eternal descendant) The eternality of the house, throne, and kingdom is guaranteed because the seed of David culminates in a person who is Himself eternal: the God-Man.
The angels message turned Mary’s focus away from herself and what she wanted, and even her present circumstances, onto what God had promised!
At this point, Mary raised a question: How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Lk. 1:34). Zechariah’s question was different: Whereby shall I know this? (Lk. 1:18). His question arose out of unbelief. Mary, however, did not challenge the angel’s word. Her question was not, “How will I know that this is true?” She asked, “How is this going to come to pass?” It is a logical question: How would this happen in light of the fact that she was a virgin?
Fruchenbaum ends his commentary with highlighting the following regarding Mary’s Response. Having received the prophecy and the answer to her subsequent question, the passage ends with Miriam’s response: Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word (Lk. 1:38). At this point, Miriam totally submits herself to the will and care of God. This was wise in light of three things.
- First, under the Mosaic Law, if a betrothed woman was found to be pregnant, the penalty she faced was execution by stoning. Miriam would have to trust that God would protect her from such a horrible fate.
- Second, she had to trust God concerning the reaction of the community, for when it was known that she was pregnant, she would have been in danger of being expelled from the community and of being ostracized for the rest of her life.
- Third, she had to trust the Lord concerning her relationship to Joseph. Matthew tells us that Joseph was a righteous man and that he did contemplate divorcing her when it was found out that she was pregnant (Mt. 1:19). She gave herself over to the Lord completely and trusted Him to work out all of these important details.
What God has promised in the future is better than anything this world has to offer me today!
What hinders us from living for what God has promised in the future? So often, instead of living for what God has promised in the future, we are too caught up with what we want today! In his book, “It’s Not About Me” Max Lucado gives this illustration in the first chapter.
“The moon models our role. What does the moon do? She generates no light. Contrary to the lyrics of the song, this harvest moon cannot shine on. Apart from the sun, the moon is nothing more than a pitch black, pockmarked rock. But properly positioned, the moon beams. Let her do what she was made to do, and a clod of dirt becomes a source of inspiration, yea, verily, romance.The moon reflects the greater light.
“And she’s happy to do so! You never hear the moon complaining. She makes no waves about making waves. Let the cow jump over her or astronauts step on her;she never objects. Even though sunning is accepted while mooning is the butt of bad jokes, you won’t hear ol’ Cheeseface grumble. The moon is at peace in her place. And because she is, soft light touches a dark earth. What would happen if we accepted our place as Son reflectors”
We don’t accept our place of being like the moon, content and at rest with just reflecting God. Mary committed herself to whatever God wanted to do with her life, because she believed, without question, that what God had planned, through His loving kindness to her, was far better than anything this world had to offer.
Ps 63:3 says, “God’s loving kindness is better than life.” Because Mary believed what God said, she believed His plan was better than life, and she chose to live for what God had planned.
- she could be stone – but God’s love was greater
- people would not understand… but God’s love was greater
- what would her parents think?
- Would Joseph believe her?
- What about their community? Everyone would know the baby wasn’t Joseph’s
- She would be accused of being unfaithful… but God’s love and his plan was greater.
If Mary lived for what she wanted today, to marry, to have a good Jewish husband, to have a nice family, etc how would that have affected her response?
Instead, God’s promise became the center of her life! What an amazing promise it was. That her son would become the eternal descendant with eternal throne, an eternal house /dynasty, and an eternal kingdom. She chose to live for God’s future promise, letting God design her path today. Instead of seeking her own desires, she chose to be a God reflector, being his servant, his instrument, being the channel through whom God would bring about His promise, no matter what that meant for her.
What has God promised us? Here’s just a couple things. We could add many more:
- Phil 1:6 – He has promised to finish the work He began in our lives!
- Rom 8:28-29 He promises to use everything in our lives, every situation, every circumstance, to conform us to his image.
- Eph 4:13 He gave each of us gifts to strengthen the body (that’s one another) so that we all can become mature, unto the fullness of the stature of Christ.
- 1 John 4:12 Our love for each other will make the invisible God visible!
- Phil 4:6-7 When I give my life to him, He will give me peace in all circumstances.
What hinders me from living for what God has promised in the future?
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
- What God has promised in the future is better than anything this world has to offer me today!
- God has promised to use everything in my life, every situation and every circumstance, to conform me to his image.
- When God’s promises become the center of my life, like Mary’s I will find extraordinary peace no matter what circumstances I encounter.