This past Sunday we took a look at a familiar story through a slightly different lens. Luke 1:26-38 is the story of Mary and the angel Gabriel and we saw how this is a story of comfort. 1) Who needs comforting and why? Even though it isn't apparent through this particular passage, the people who are in need of comfort are the Jewish people. Because of their sin, disobedience and idolatry in generations past, they had been exiled from Jerusalem. During the time of exile, the prophets of God sent word that the exile would not last forever. God would send a Savior to rescue his people.
Over 500 years before the birth of Christ, the Jews returned to Jerusalem but the land wasn't theirs. They were still waiting for the Messiah and seeking the promised comfort from the Lord (Isaiah 40).
2) How will the nation of Israel be comforted? They will be comforted by the birth of the Messiah! The angel Gabriel tells Mary in Luke 1:31-32 "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..."
Not only was this a message of comfort for the Jews, it is also a message of comfort for us all. When Jesus is born the angels declare that it is good news, of great joy for all the people. When Simeon holds the baby Jesus, he praises God in Luke 2:32 declaring the baby to be "a light of revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel."
3) What is the message of comfort? Through our faith in Jesus the Messiah we are now invited into the kingdom of God, to be God's people in God's place under God's authority. A kingdom of love, joy, peace, forgiveness and justice.
4) Lastly, we see in this story that Mary, through her willingness to be the mother of the Messiah, was an agent of comfort. She submitted herself to the Lord as His servant.
In a similar way, God can use us to bring comfort to this broken world if we are willing to be used by Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-5). One author wrote, "God can do great things through those who entrust the journey with Him to His care."
This Christmas season, as you have received the comfort of God in Christ Jesus, will you be an agent of God's comfort to others? Seek to be the Lord's servant in all the places God sends you this week!