Sunday July 10, 2005 | Greg Boyd
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end."
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
“I am the Lord's servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
God sends the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that the Lord has shown favor on her. She would conceive Jesus who would be the heir to David and his reign would have no end! Greg spent significant time emphasizing that the way God works is not how we might expect. The fact that God overlooks all of the “usual suspects” when it comes to starting a revolution, and chooses a young peasant girl as the entry point for the King, this demonstrates the character of the Kingdom. It is often just the opposite of what we might expect.
Today we covered Luke 1:26-34, 38. God sends the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that the Lord has shown favor on her. She would conceive Jesus who would be the heir to David and his reign would have no end! This is amazing news! So amazing, one would be hard pressed to believe it! Nevertheless, Mary responds in faith and says, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Even though Mary was not a person who would stand out in a crowd by human standards, the Lord chose her and showed great favor upon her.
Greg spent significant time emphasizing that the way God works is not how we might expect. Mary was not said to be the most righteous, nor the most important, she had no real credentials at all, except that she was willing. To the core of her being, she would trust and submit herself to God. The fact that God overlooks all of the “usual suspects” when it comes to starting a revolution, and chooses a young peasant girl as the entry point for the King, this demonstrates the character of the Kingdom. It is often just the opposite of what we might expect.
In this Kingdom, the first will be last, the foolish will be wise, the humble will be exalted, least will be greatest, those who are despised will receive honor, the poor will become rich, the weak—strong. Those who serve will be served, giving will be better than receiving. A Kingdom where we do good to our enemies rather than fighting back. God shows greatness by being born human, shows power by being crucified, shows holiness by becoming a curse (2 Cor. 5:21), shows love by being hated, shows victory through being defeated. This is about as counter-intuitive as it gets! God comes into the world by being born of an otherwise “insignificant” (by the world’s standards) young girl promised to someone else!
But in the Kingdom of God, there are no “nobodies.” In the Kingdom of God, success or failure is not about your abilities, qualities, characteristics, appearances, or any other standard that the world might measure you by. Instead, it is simply a matter of your heart toward God. A young powerless girl can start the whole thing off simply by saying “yes” to God. Greg compared this to the story of Gideon from Judges 6:11-15. Just as Mary and Gideon had roles to play in the success of the Kingdom, we too have a role to play.
The Kingdom of God is a community in which all “kingdom of this world” distinctions are considered irrelevant. We all fall into this trap at times. Greg offered an example of this where he was drawn to leave a conversation with a woman with a simple concern in order to engage in conversation that he hoped might benefit the church financially. Then it dawned on him, God would be offended that Greg would disrespect a daughter of the King in this way!
Rather than judge each other by the world’s standards, Greg encouraged us to consider how universally God’s Spirit is poured out! Acts 2:17-18 shows that regardless of the world’s categories, God will use anyone from any station of life regardless of class, gender, race, or what-have-you. Gal. 3:26-27 confirms this.