Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth
The Angel is sent by God with a message. He is a royal messenger and he is sent by God above. Surely, he is bringing a message to Washington DC. If not Washington DC, he is at least coming to New York City to appear on the nightly news. There is a new king coming. Let’s call a press conference and get all the media together. You got the Jerusalem Post there, check. The Babylonian Times, check. Rome Street Journal, check . The Nightly News with Josephus, check. We have a messenger from God. The royal herald is surely sent to Rome to speak to the court of the Emperor.
Nope, the messenger goes to a city in Galilee named Nazareth. City is actually quite the overstatement. For one thing, Nazareth was a small village during the days of Jesus, perhaps boasting a population of only a few hundred. Most of the people in the town were related. They were a clan from the line of David and had settled in the town after returning from captivity. This is not the New York city of the Ancient Near East. This is more like Memphis, Indiana then Louisville.
Nazareth did not have the greatest of reputations politically. Following the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, the Roman armory in Sepphoris (four miles from Nazareth) was robbed, and the Romans retaliated by crucifying 2,000 Jews. Sepphoris was burned to the ground, and its inhabitants were sold into slavery. A decade later when Jesus was just a boy, Judas the Galilean got tired of theft, I mean taxation and began a revolt. This too evoked another crackdown by the Romans. Many were also crucified. Nazareth doesn’t have the greatest of reputations. It's looked down upon. Its the west side of Louisville. Its Shively.
The Angel of the Lord comes to this town to announce the coming birth of Christ. And not to the whole town but to a woman, not to any woman but to a virgin who was betrothed to be married. Now we live in an age where the idea of being a virgin before you are married is sadly strange. We think "virgin Mary, well she must be so holy. " Yes, we should learn from her example. Young men and women you should learn from the chastity of Mary but we should be clear that this isn't abnormal. Sex is meant to happen in marriage. To be a virgin before you are married is to be the norm. Young Women and Men, the normal expected behavior from God is that you will be a virgin when you are married. Don’t let this world tell you that is strange or abnormal. This world is the one that is corrupt and unusual.
Contrary to the Roman Catholics, Mary was a normal young woman from a small town in Galilee. There is nothing so holy within herself that she had to be selected by God. Rather what we will see is the favor of the Lord on her to make her Holy. The messenger of God comes to a lowly and humble settlement made up of people who should be royal blood but they had long forgotten what it was like to be a part of that line.
John Calvin says that:
"The treasure of this mystery was committed by him to a virgin in such a manner, that at length, when the proper time came, it might be communicated to all the godly. It was, I own, a mean kind of guardianship; but whether for trying the humility of faith, or restraining the pride of the ungodly, it was the best adapted."
What he is saying is that the announcement of the coming birth of the Messiah king didn’t come with great fanfare. It wasn’t even like the announcement of the pregnancy of Elizabeth with John. Gabriel had appeared to the father of John in the temple. It is a big deal that Elizabeth is pregnant. Many are talking about it. But here is Mary, a virgin, alone. This message is coming to her alone and others will have to take her word for it. It’s a humble announcement with the possibility of great shame upon Mary. She has a fiancé but is going to have a baby that isn’t his. She will bear great shame and there will be no one around to confirm the appearance of the angel. That is why John Calvin says this announcement works to try the humility of faith and restrain the pride of the ungodly.
It will be quite the stumbling block to the Jews. Jesus will claim to be the son of God while being born to a woman claiming to have been a virgin when she gave birth. Jesus comes into the world in humble means. He is the king of the universe. All things that have been made were made by him and for him. He was in the beginning with God and was God. He is the alpha and omega. And he comes into the world in Nazareth. Can anything good come from Nazareth?. Jesus, the Messiah and reigning king, came not to be served but to serve. He came humbly not with great fanfare but born in a stable. The bible says God is opposed to the proud and gives grace to the humble. Jesus Christ was humble.
As we think of this angel Gabriel coming to Nazareth, let us remember humility. God is still opposed to the proud and he still gives grace to the humble. God is still with the downtrodden. He is still a God that cares for those who bow their heart before him. He is with the humble. He is with the poor in spirit. This doesn’t necessarily mean poor in wallet. There are plenty of prideful people in poverty.
We all know that Prospect Kentucky looks down its nose at Shively. We all know that Floyd Knobs thinks lowly of Jeffersonville. That’s easy to see. But we also know that Shively looks down on Prospect. "That’s where all those snooty snobs live." We also know that people are constantly competing to show off their possessions now matter how meager they are. You drive out to Prospect and its all the nice manicured “get off my lawn” kind of lawns. When I first came to Louisville 6 and half years ago, I worked at Valvoline Instant Oil Change in Shively. This was right on the line between the ghetto side and the trailer park side of Louisville. People on one side of the high way where rednecks, what some might call the white trash side. On the other side was the ghetto. It we are honest, this place isn't aint known for having nice homes. Yet this Valvoline store did the most business of all the Valvolines in Louisville. People who don’t live in any kind of house still roll up in the Valvoline with Cadillacs and Mustangs all pimped out. They would roll through that Valvoline once a month to get an oil change. They were proud of that car and they took care of it like a baby. That store made more money than the Valvoline in Prospect. This was a point of pride. You don’t have to be wealthy to be prideful.
But God is opposed to the proud. Christ didn’t come to live in a mansion or drive a pimped out Camero. He came to a small town in Galilee. Let us set aside all pride and pretension. Brothers and Sisters, you don’t have to drive a Cadillac to be prideful. Far too often we are proudful of the blessings that God has given us. There is a fine line between being please and satisfied with the gifts that God has given you and being prideful. I am quite pleased that God has given us Sovereign King Church. This Church is a gift from God. All that we have are gifts from him. Let us take joy in him. If any of us boast, let us boast in him. Let us not be like King Nebuchadnezzar and look on what God has made and say “look at my kingdom.” Let us be humble.
Sunday 10:30 AM