“I’m nobody special.” “I’m not gifted.” “I’m not important.” “I have nothing to offer.” “God could never use me.”
Have you ever said those words? Then you are in good company with Mary. If Luke 1:26-38 teaches us anything, it is that God specializes in using nobodies to accomplish his plan and purpose.
Mary was probably no more than 14 years old. She was a virgin and inexperienced in the ways of the world. She was engaged to be married. Like most peasant girls, she was probably illiterate. Chances are that she had not traveled very far outside of her home area.
Mary lived in the town of Nazareth, a corrupt village halfway between the port cities of Tyre and Sidon in the province of Galilee. If there was a bright spot in Israel, Nazareth was a far away as possible. It might not be the end of the world, but Mary could see it from there.
And yet Mary was the object of God’s special favor. God sent the angel Gabriel to explain that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God. Gabriel explained that she would give birth to the one whose kingdom would never end.
Mary responds with the simple, yet profound question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Mary knew enough about biology to know this would require a miracle. She believed the “what” but did not understand the “how.”
Gabriel explained that Jesus’ birth would be accomplished by the creative power of the Holy Spirit. As confirmation, Gabriel told Mary her aging relative, Elizabeth, was six months pregnant, proving that nothing was beyond God’s power.
Mary could have responded in a variety of ways—“I won’t do it!” “I can’t do it!” “If I have to.” “If I can do it my way.” Not choosing any of these options, Mary said simply, “Yes, Lord.”
Mary had no credentials other than her availability. She had no reason to be chosen other than her willingness to serve. God sovereignly chose her and she responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Like Mary, we should cultivate a humble heart, an ongoing poverty of spirit that is open to God’s grace, and desperately longing for it. We should cultivate a believing heart, a willingness to take God at his word and trust his power and promises. We should also cultivate a submissive heart, an attitude that says “Yes” to whatever God asks us to do.
Regardless of our gifts, abilities, talents, or lack thereof, God can use each of us to accomplish his plan. In fact, he specializes in using nobodies to achieve his purposes.
This message was preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on December 1, 2019. It is part of a collection of sermons on the people and events of Christmas. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.