As we head towards Christmas we’re going to spend some time in the birth of Jesus narrative. The scene is set with Elizabeth pregnant with John the Baptist when an angel comes to visit Mary. We’re going to stay in this first encounter between Mary and the angel for a few days.
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!”
As I read this, I was struck by how much of this truth, to me, has become commonplace. Take that first verse for example. God sent an angel to Mary. For me that is completely normal and acceptable because it’s portrayed in every nativity and lots of films about the Christmas story. But stop and think. God sent not just an angel, but the Angel Gabriel. God intervened in humanity miraculously and specially.
The angel Gabriel is a messenger who was entrusted to deliver several important messages on God’s behalf. Gabriel appears to at least three people in the Bible: first to the prophet Daniel (Daniel 8:16); next to the priest Zechariah to foretell and announce the miraculous birth of John the Baptist (Luke 1:19); and finally to the virgin Mary to tell her that she would conceive and bear a son (Luke 1:26–38). Gabriel’s name means “God is great,” and he is the one who revealed that the Saviour was to be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31).
Daniel was a prophet, he held a position of authority. Zechariah was a priest, he was a man of standing in the temple, yet to proclaim the most important news of all, God speaks to a girl of no standing, no authority. This has really challenged me this week:
Here’s the challenge it posed to me: If God chose to announce the Messiah, Jesus through a teenage girl, why do I disqualify myself from being used by God because of my insecurity and uncertainty ?
Ponder that for yourself today and into the next year…