Suggested Scripture reading, Luke 1: 26 – 56
Joseph, the earthly father of the Lord Jesus lived in the small town of Nazareth not far from the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth was located on trade routes from the east to the west and on a road that came south from the sea port of Tyre and went on to Jerusalem. Many travelers from all over the Roman empire came to Jerusalem by way of the Port of Tyre through Nazareth. Since Nazareth was about a day’s journey from Tyre and also about a day’s journey from Jerusalem, it became the natural stopping off place for many of those travelers. Unfortunately, the town had acquired a reputation for being a very rough, sinful place because of the wicked practices of those travelers. Joseph knew of these activities and could have engaged in them had he chosen to. Matthew called him, a “just man”. (Matthew 1:19) Therefore, he refrained from those sins and conducted himself in a righteous manner. It was, no doubt, because of this strength of character God chose him to be the earthly guardian of the Lord Jesus.
Mary also knew the reputation of Nazareth. Later when the disciple Nathaniel is introduced to Jesus of Nazareth his response was, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) The town was known as a wicked place. Mary grew up in this place. Yet, while surrounded by such sinfulness, she remained pure and true to the Lord.
Then, at the appointed time, God sent the angel, Gabriel with a message “to a virgin … and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amoung women”. (Luke 1:27-28) The next verse says, “she was troubled at his saying.” No doubt, there were many reasons for her troubled mind but surely one thing that crossed her mind must have been, “What will everyone think? I have tried so hard to keep a pure testimony for the Lord. Now, I am to be with child before Joseph and I come together as husband and wife.” Humanly, she must have thought, If I am “highly favored” why am I being treated this way? Therefore, Gabriel assured her with these words. “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God.” God was giving Mary and Joseph the wonderful blessing of being the parents of the Messiah. It would cost them very much. Is it any wonder that very shortly after this pronouncement, “Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elizabeth.” (Vs. 39-40) She needed the time away from her home village. The angel’s message of “fear not” gave Mary courage to respond in faith.
The angel also told Joseph to “fear not to take unto unto thee Mary thy wife:” (Matthew 1:20) He responded in faith when he, “did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife.” (Matthew 1:24) Mary demonstrated her devotion to God, despite all that it might cause Joseph and her when she answered Gabriel saying, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38)
The submissiveness of Mary and Joseph is a testimony to us today. When God comes to us and suggests that He wants us to surrender our lives to Him we can trust Him to do what is best for us. No matter what it may cost us to surrender we can be reminded of Mary’s words, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.”
We should . . .
Fear not to surrender to the plan of God for our lives!
“Teach me to do Thy will; for thou art my God: Thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.”
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