Original Blog Date: 12-13-2005
Zacharias (or Zechariah) was in the temple, burning incense (as was custom) when an angel of the Lord appeared to him and said (in Luke 1:13-17):
"Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him the name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will drink no wine or liquor; and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, while yet in his mother's womb. And he will turn back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And it is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous; so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
John was soon to be born and prepare the way for Christ! Zacharias didn't believe Gabriel when he spoke these words, and so he was struck dumb until John's birth.
In the 6th month of Elizabeth's (Zacharias' wife) pregnancy, Gabriel is sent from God again, this time to Mary in Nazareth:
And coming in, he said to her, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this might be.
And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end."
And Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. For nothing will be impossible with God."
And Mary said, "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (NAS)
Even though Mary questions how it was possible she could have a son, she still BELIEVED the word of the Lord. Notice the difference in her response from Zacharias' response. She quickly runs to visit with Elizabeth and upon seeing her, greets her excitedly! As soon as she does this, the baby leaps for joy from within Elizabeth's womb! Elizabeth then tells Mary that she is blessed because she has BELIEVED that which was spoken to her by the Angel Gabriel concerning the Lord.
What follows, is Mary's Praise:
And Mary said: "My soul exalts the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation toward those who fear Him. He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. "He has brought down rulers from their thrones, and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; and sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, in remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and his offspring forever." (NAS)
Side Note: I wrote about Hannah's prayer in an earlier blog and there are a lot of parallel's between Mary and Hannah's prayers/praises (see: 1 Samuel 2:1-10 )
Talk about a woman full of faith! No wonder God had searched the earth for a woman of good report and chose her as the Mother of Emmanuel. Talk about someone who knew how to praise the Lord, she really did.
Christmas has been turned into something that consists of 99% of nothing to do whatsoever with Christ. I thought it would be a good idea to go back and read some of the story of the birth of our Savior and Lord. Let's remember to be full of Joy (as Tim preached about) all the time. Sure there is a time for mourning, and weeping, but most of the time we can live with joy for no other reason than Christ has come to us, lived among us, suffered as we suffer - even more so, and then died and rose again to prove that He was who He said He was.
I can go see the supposed graves of Billy the Kid, President Lincoln, George Washington, Christopher Columbus, John Wayne, Albert Einstein, etc and dig up some bones or bone dust. (I'd probably go to jail for this by the way). At Christ's grave though, there is nothing there! There are even 500+ people who witnessed and walked with Jesus after he rose again. (1st Corinthians 15:3-8).
So the birth was the most special event up till that date, but Christ raising from the dead was the most blessed event ever because he just purchased our salvation for all eternity! So everything Christmas has become can not even compare to the joy we can have in this alone if we've put our faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Read through Mary's Praise one more time, and try to imagine what she was thinking as you do. You may have to read it and re-read it to really grasp it as I did. Now it's your turn to give praise!