Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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She Said “Yes” - A Sermon on Luke 1:38, 45
What God’s word proposed to her was outrageous and fanciful, the stuff of make believe. This particular Word of God was being delivered by the angel Gabriel in a remote town called Nazareth. The “she” in question was the now-famous Mary, the first and best Madonna. The angel Gabriel told her that she, a virgin, was going to conceive without the aid of a human father. She, a virgin, was going to conceive and give birth to none other than God’s Son, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, Jesus.
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 "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; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."
These words of God were so incredible, that Mary asked the logical question, “How can this be since I am a virgin?”
The angel’s answer was that the incredible power of God would make it so.
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. "For nothing will be impossible with God."
The angel’s answer was that the limitless power of God would cause the impossible to become possible, just as He had already done with Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Mary’s conception and birth of the Messiah Jesus would be the greatest of miracles made possible by the Word of the God of miracles. It would be the fulfillment of all the Messianic prophesies that all the prophets of God had uttered since the dawn of time. It would happen because God had promised – and what He says, he does. What His word declares comes true. For His Word creates, causes to be, creates something where there was nothing before.
And that was enough for Mary. She believed what God’s word said. She trusted that thepromise would come true. She was willing. She said “yes.” I am the female servant of the Lord; may it happen to me according to your word.
She believed the promise. She believed the word of God. She said “yes.” “Yes, I believe that what you have promised will happen.” Yes, I am willing to let it happen and to be used by God as He desires.” “Yes, I believe – no matter how outrageous, how unlikely, how fanciful, your promise appears to be” Yes, I am willing to obey God’s will, to be used by Him in His way, to follow His command and His lead – no matter how inconvenient, no matter what the risk, no matter how my reputation suffers, no matter what the loss, no matter what. I am willing because I trust that God is good and therefore can be trusted.”
Mary said “yes” and a child was conceived in her. A child who was the Son of God incarnate, a baby who was both God and man, developing in her womb like any other baby - except this baby was sinless, this baby had no earthly father, God was his father. He took his divine nature from His father, for he was eternally begotten; and his human nature from his mother. Mary said “yes” and a child was conceived in her who was the Messiah, the Christ, the Savior of the world.
Mary said “yes.” That is another way of saying, “Mary believed.” For when one believesone of God’s promises, one is saying “yes” to that promise. Mary said “yes.” That is another way of saying, “Mary obeyed.” For Mary was willing to obey God’s plan, God’s command, God’s direction, God’s assignment for her life. She said “yes” let it happen to me as your word has decreed.
Mary said “yes.” But she could have said, “no.” She could have said, “No, I don’t believe that what you say can or will come true.” “A virgin conceiving - fantasy!” “Me, giving birth to the Son of God? - lunacy!” “Me, the mother of the Messiah, the Savior of the World - yea, right! I don’t think so! How naive do you think I am? I’ve heard about the miracles of old. But things like that just don’t happen in real life, not anymore, not to me.” And if even if she had believed that such a thing was possible, Mary still could have said, “no.” She could have said, “No, I cannot do as God commands. I’m not cut out for this. I am not worthy. Find someone else.” Or she could have said, “No, I will not do what God wants. I refuse. This is MY life. What about all my plans with Joseph, what about my hopes and dreams and ambitions? This is MY life and I want to live it my way.”
But Mary said, “Yes, I believe. Yes, I am willing. Yes, use me O God as you will, as Your instrument.”
“Oh sure,” you probably say. “Who wouldn’t say “yes” to an angel? How can you turn an angel down? I’d say ‘yes’ also if an angel spoke to me!” The logic behind such words as these is the notion that it would easier to believe and obey God if a heavenly being, or perhaps God himself, spoke to us. Nice-sounding words, but they are just words. The fact is, and as God sees it, God’s Word is God’s Word, whether it comes through an angel, an apostle, a prophet, a pastor, or a donkey. God’s Word is God’s Word. If we are unwilling to accept it from a pastor, from a fellow Christian, or when we read it in the Bible, we will also be unwilling to accept it from an angel or some other heavenly messenger. Think of all those who said “no” to Jesus himself.
Mary said “yes” to God and this is why we honor her. Because she said “yes,” she became the mother of our Lord, indeed the mother of God, because the child to whom she gave birth was God and man in one person. But our Lutheran Confessions have rightly said that the greatest honor we can give Mary is to imitate her faith.” That is why Elizabeth, speaking by the Holy Spirit, said about Mary,
blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord."
Elizabeth said Mary was blessed because she believed that God’s word, his promise, would come true. She was blessed because she said, “Yes, I believe your promise, even though on the face of it, it is very difficult to believe, I don’t fully understand it, and it seems the stuff of fairy tales. But because God has spoken it through you, angel, yes, I believe it.”
God also has spoken to us. No, not through heavenly beings, but through “angels.” In both Hebrew and Greek, the word for angel means “messenger.” All those that God calls, sends, and commissions to speak His word, are messengers. The prophets and apostles were messengers of God’s Word and we have the Word of God spoken through them in the Scriptures. Pastors are messengers, in fact in the book of Revelation, they are referred to as “angels.” God has spoken to us through earthly messengers words of promise and words of command, words of Gospel and words of Law. And how have we responded?
Certainly we have done better than nonChristians. For nonChristians live in a perpetual and complete state of “no” before God. Their entire life is a “No” to God because they are dead in sin, separated from God. We who have been baptized and believe in Jesus live in a state of “yes” before God, for we have repented, and have been turned 180 degrees, so that we are walking with God rather than against Him. And often, if not usually, we say “Yes” to God. Yes I believe your promises. Yes, I will do what you have commanded. But the sad fact is, we still say “No” to God and more often than we care to admit.
When we are in trouble, filled with worry and fear, confronted by problems, sad or depressed, God comes to us with his promises. He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” “I will cause all things to work together for good.” “Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will rescue you and you will honor me.” “Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you.” “He who delivered His only Son for you, will also give you every thing else that you need.” But we don’t believe these promises. We say “No.” We choose instead to believe the worst, to believe what our eyes and our thoughts tell us, because God’s promises seem to difficult to believe.” We say, “No, I can’t believe thatGod is going to keep those promises, not for me, not now.” That is saying, “No” to the Gospel.
At other times, God commands us how he wants us to live, gives us directions for our lives. He says, “I want you to forgive that person you are angry at. I want to you to love and spend time with that person you are avoiding. I want you to take my Word seriously and start seriously reading my Word. I want you to start going to church more often and taking that seriously. I want you to pray daily for the various people in your life. I want you to speak up for the truth of my Word at work. I want you to share the way of salvation through Jesus at work, at school, with your friends, neighbors, relatives. I want you to reach out to your fellow Christians who have fallen or strayed away. I want you to strengthen your marriage, to work on it, rather than give up on it. I want you to put the building of my kingdom, my church, first, before your own comfort and wants. But what do we so often do? We say, “No, I will not.” We refuse because such commands are difficult, make us feel uncomfortable, or are terribly inconvenient. Or we convince ourselves that God hasn’t really commanded us to do such things; that such commands are just the opinion of certain people like pastors.
Far too often we have said, “No, I won’t believe. No, I won’t do.”
But the good news today is first, that Mary said, “yes.” For through her “yes” the Savior of the world was conceived and born. Jesus, our Savior was born, And it is by his “yes” that we are saved. For you see, Mary also said “no” on occasion. She sinned and was also in need of a Savior. But Jesus never said no to God, always “yes.”
The good news is that Christ’s “yes” overcomes our “no.”
When the Father wanted His Son to leave His side and become human, the Son said “yes” I will become man in order to restore creation, in order to reconcile them to you Father, in order to forgive their sins, that they might have life.
During his entire life, the Son always said, yes, that is, he never sinned, he never refused to do what His Father wanted Him to do. He always trusted His Father, trusted that His plan was good.
When the Father wanted His Son to eat nothing and be tempted by the devil in the wilderness for 40 days, the Son said “yes.”
When at Gethsemane, the Son did not want to go to the cross, as he contemplated the horror of it all, as he was being attacked by the devil with temptations of a kind we can scarcely imagine, Jesus, the Son of God still said “yes, not what I want Father, but what you want.”
The cross was the ultimate “yes” spoken by Jesus to His Father. There He trusted His Father’s plan, there He said “yes” to his role as Savior of the whole world. There he said “yes, I will lay down my life, I will be their Substitute, I will make their sins mine, I will suffer the punishment they deserved, I will endure hell for them, death for them, that they might have life, eternal life, forgiveness, salvation. Yes, I will die for all of their “No’s” spoken to You Father, that they might be forgiven especially for this.