“CASTING CALL” – PART 2:
MARY – A LIFE INTERRUPTED
(You can find a recording of this sermon here.)
This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
Where does your first interruption with God find you… in 15 words or less describe your first interruption from God.
BIG IDEA: ”A divine interruption postures us for a faith eruption.”
The last book of the Old Testament is Malachi. At the close of that book, God… goes silent… God says nothing. There are no more prophets... there are no scriptures written by God… just 400 years of silent nights…God had simply quit speaking.
Two probable reasons why the Lord God instituted this kind of ‘famine’:
• Amos 2:11-12 says that God’s people commanded His prophets “not to prophecy”
• Zechariah 7:11-12 says that the hearts of God’s people became as hard as flint and they would not listen.
Israel stopped listening, so God stopped interrupting them.
1. DIVINE INTERRUPTIONS ARE OFTEN UNEXPECTED (LUKE 1:26-28)
‘the angel went to her’... after 400 years of silence…in the fullness of God’s appointed time…an angel just showed up in an otherwise everyday experience to an ordinary Jewish girl… which leads us to the first characteristic of an interrupted life.
You fill in your own blanks…:________years ago, I was ______________and God unexpectedly interrupted my life when ________________________.
The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
The phrase ‘greetings you who are highly favoured’ simply meant that Mary had been given much grace or "unmerited favour" from God.
There is a slogan that I’ve seen that says “Jesus loves you, but I’m His favorite.” Do you struggle thinking of yourself as ‘favoured?’ It’s one thing to be humble, but we have to be careful that we don’t wade too deeply into the waters of “undeserved grace.”
2. DIVINE INTERRUPTIONS CAN BE HUMBLING
Notice the connection between his favour and his presence. In the next sentence Gabriel says, “Greetings you are highly favored…The Lord is with you.” So often the two concepts go hand-in-hand and that leads us to another characteristic of these interruptions.
Throughout the Bible, this phrase "the Lord is with you" was not applied to people in ordinary situations in life, but the term was used to address people who were given unique vocations that would impact all of Israel.
Mary would have been familiar with:
• God appearing to Jacob and confirming him as the covenant leader when He said, "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go" (Gen. 28:15).
• God calling Moses at the burning bush to lead His people out of Egypt, He said, "I will be with you" (Ex. 3:12).
• Joshua leading the people into battle in the Promised Land when God said, "I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you" (Josh. 1:5).
• The story of when an angel called Gideon to defend the people from a foreign invasion, he greeted Gideon saying, "The Lord is with you" (Judg. 6:12).
• The story of David when God put him at the head of an everlasting kingdom, God reminded David of His faithfulness to him, saying, "I have been with you wherever you went" (2 Sam. 7:9)
• And maybe she was even familiar with the story of when God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations, He said, "Be not afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you" (Jer. 1:8).
No doubt that Mary knew, when the words "The Lord is with you" are spoken…she was thinking about these great men, for it is a signal that someone is being called to a great mission that will be difficult and demanding. And the future of Israel will be dependent on how well that person plays his part.
As one commentator explained, "In all these texts, the destiny of Israel is at stake. The person to whom the words are addressed is summoned by God to a high vocation, and entrusted with a momentous mission, and . . . the religious history of Israel (and therefore of the world) depended, at that moment, on his response to the call." (J. McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1975, p. 49.)
Can you think of an interruption in your life when you felt the weight of the words “I will be with you”?
3. DIVINE INTERRUPTIONS CAN BE TROUBLING (LUKE 1:29-33)
Mary is not the first to be troubled by God’s words….I’m sure many of us can relate! Have you ever been troubled by God’s words and what He has asked you to do?
Gabriel assures her that she has found favor with God. What does it mean for Mary to "find favor with God"?
"To find favor" can describe a higher ranking person bestowing kindness and favor upon an inferior and putting him in an important role of leadership.
• Joseph was a slave under Potiphar in Egypt, Genesis tells us that Joseph "found favour" in Potiphar’s sight, and was put in charge of all Potiphar’s household (Gen. 39:4–6).
• Noah was the first person in the Bible to be described this way. In the midst of a corrupt world, Noah was the one man who "found favour" with God and, as a result, was protected from the flood and established as the head of the renewed human family (Gen. 6:8).
• Abraham "found favour" with God and became the instrument God would use to bring blessing to the whole world (Gen. 18:2–3).
• Moses also "found favour" with God as the covenant mediator who helped to reconcile the sinful people with the Lord at Mount Sinai (Ex. 33:12–17).
These are just a few examples of how the one who finds favor with God is specifically chosen by the Lord for a particular mission in His saving plan.
We don’t have to do what Mary did in order to feel troubled by what God is asking us to do. Maybe you’ve had conversations with God that went something like this:
Really? You want me to move… THERE?
I have to forgive… THAT PERSON?
You want me to give… THAT much?
You want me to… LEAD that?
You want me to start… WHAT?
What’s been a troubling question that God interrupted your life with?
4. INTERRUPTIONS TAKE US TO THE DEEP END
Then Gabriel goes on to say…You will conceive and give birth to a son ... Sometimes we sign up for what we believe God is calling us to and sometimes like Mary, we are drafted.
Have you ever felted drafted by God? He really didn’t give you an option? Or can you relate more to being a draft dodger? Explain.
I’m sure Mary thought she was in over her head. Let’s look at what Gabriel actually said to Mary about her child:
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.
The words in 2 Samuel 7 would have been very familiar to many Jews in the first century, for they echo one of the most important Old Testament passages related to the Davidic Kingdom.
I will make for you a great name . . . When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. . . . And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established forever.
(2 Sam. 7:9, 12–14, 16)
Notice the many striking parallels between what was promised to David in this verse and what Gabriel says about Mary’s child in Luke 1.
Sometimes when God interrupts your life, and calls you to a big assignment…you can feel like He is putting you in over your head…And again don’t interpret your deep end through Mary’s deep end assignment…. you don’t have to be giving birth to a Messiah to feel this way.
Do you have an experience that seemed like a ‘deep end’ move that God called you
5. DIVINE INTERRUPTIONS OFTEN FIND US ASKING “HOW?” (LUKE 1:34-37)
“How can this be?” We know that she was not unwilling to be an instrument (1:38) but she was honestly perplexed about how it was all going to be accomplished. Gabriel explained the Holy Spirit would make this happen and the holiness of the Christ child is declared. He reveals to her that the Word was indeed becoming flesh (John 1:1-5,14)
The angel Gabriel stated a great theological truth that “no word from God can ever fail”, a statement that is often mentioned in the Bible. See Genesis 18:14, Isaiah 40:26-29, Jeremiah 32:17, 27; Matthew 19:26, Mark 14:36
God is sovereign, the Creator of ‘heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them (Acts 14:15)
And he is in charge of the world and everything in it (Psalm 24:1-2, 89:11, Acts 4:24)
God is able to make the barren woman conceive (Gen 18:14; 1 Sam 1-19-20)
Mary’s question was the how question, maybe your question is… “When…?”, “Why…?”, “Where…?”
Talk about this in your group.
6. DIVINE INTERRUPTIONS CHALLENGE US TO SURRENDER (LUKE 1:38)
Mary responds with a willing heart.
Scott McKnight in his book, “The Real Mary” elaborates on what Mary instantaneously knew from once she spoke those words…
He proposes that Mary instantly knew that:
• Villagers would taunt and ostracize her son
• Jesus would hear the accusation that he was an illegitimate child and he would be prohibited from special assemblies (Deuteronomy 23:2)
• Joseph’s reputation as an observant Jew would be called into question
• Joseph was legally required to divorce her
• Joseph could leave her stranded with a son without a father.
She must have wondered if there was an easier way. But because she trusted God…and she said yes to this divine interruption… she was postured for a faith eruption.
Surrender and obedience to the interruptions God places in our paths always costs… but the faith-erupting results are always worth it. It’s not always easy… but it’s always worth it.
Mary just couldn't have known… she began the journey by becoming the mother of Jesus… and had to stumble her way to becoming a follower of Jesus. Her interpretation of what Jesus came to do was so unlike the Davidic kingdom that Israel was hoping for. She never anticipated the kind of Messiah Jesus would become.
Would you say your life is postured for a divine interruption?
Why or why not?
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