Throughout Advent, let’s look at the people of the story of Christ’s birth. This week: Gabriel. Here is my take on a possible first person narrative from Luke 1.
I love my work. I truly do. I am a messenger who brings Good News to people. I am God’s mouthpiece. Yes, I stand in the presence of God Himself. He speaks to me. He gives me messages to deliver. Many years ago I spoke to Daniel and explained a dream to the prophet. Interesting that the vision he had then ties directly to our time now.
Just a few months ago the Almighty sent me to Elizabeth’s husband, Zacharias. That was an interesting exchange. Here’s this man, a priest, holy in actions and respected by both God and man… He is ministering in the inner part of the sanctuary… I appear from the altar of incense. He was a bit frightened but I brought a message of incredible news, good news:
“Don’t be afraid, Zacharias!” I told him. “For I have come to tell you that God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! And you are to name him John.”
God told me to let Zacharias know that both he and Elizabeth would be filled great joy and gladness at this son’s birth, and many will rejoice with them. Both Zacharias and his wife were old, but this son would be one of the Lord’s great men. I told him that this baby would be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from before his birth!
Can you see him? He stood there next to the Ark of the Covenant and just stared at me. I continued to speak of the encouraging future God had for this son. “He will persuade many a Jew to turn to the Lord his God,” I told him. “And he will be a man of rugged spirit and power like Elijah, the prophet of old; and he will precede the coming of the Messiah, preparing the people for his arrival. He will soften adult hearts to become like little children’s, and will change disobedient minds to the wisdom of faith.”
Such news, eh? Who wouldn’t welcome this great plan from God Almighty? And yet this man, Zacharias, didn’t believe it! He didn’t believe me. Clearly just my presence with him in the Holy of Holies was miraculous. But he stammered on about how old he was… and his wife…
Didn’t he recall the stories of Abraham and Sarah? Or Elkanah and Hannah. Or Isaac and Rebekah? No, I guess not. But hadn’t he been praying for a son? Yet he doubted. I just couldn’t believe that he didn’t believe. You could say the hair on the back of my neck stood up.
So, do you know what I said next? i raise my voice. “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was He who sent me to you with this good news! And now, because you haven’t believed me, you are to be stricken silent, unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly come true at the proper time.”
You know, sometimes you have to take some pretty radical steps to get some people’s attention.
Ah, but not Mary. Not Mary.
Every time the Almighty has sent me to speak directly to His children I have to say “Don’t be afraid!” right at the start. Every time . Except one. Miriam. You know her as Mary. She wasn’t like Zacharias. She wasn’t like Daniel. Such a sweet girl. Such love for God she has. Yes, she was a little confused at my message, and I had to explain a few things to the young woman, but she believed it… because she believed God.
You haven’t heard the message? Oh my, well, I’m sure she wouldn’t mind my repeating it for you. Here’s what I said:
“God has decided to wonderfully bless you, Miriam! Very soon now, you will become pregnant and have a baby boy, and you are to name him ‘Jesus.’ He shall be very great and shall be called the Son of God. And the Lord God shall give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he shall reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom shall never end!”
Here’s the confusing part. She asked how this was going to be, because she and her fiance’ Jacob, you know him as Joseph, had rightfully never been together. “How can I have a baby?” She asked me. “I am a virgin.”
This is the part I had to explain… and even I didn’t understand the message the Almighty had given me to give to her. I told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of God shall overshadow you.”
Listen to this… this is what is so amazing about Jehovah. God’s plan was this way so the baby born to sweet Miriam, Mary, would be completely holy, the Son of God.
I then mentioned that her Cousin Elizabeth was with child and I assured her that “every promise from God shall surely come true.”
And here’s the best part of the whole mission: her response. I had just told her some pretty remarkable news… in fact, impossible news. More impossible than the news I had delivered to Zacharias, really. And what was her reply? Oh, this delightful child is wise beyond her years. “I am the Lord’s servant,” she said. “And I am willing to do whatever He wants. May everything you said come true.”
May everything be as I had said! Her world was about to be totally flipped upside down. And she was ready and willing! Can you believe that? How old was this girl? 14-15? What trust! What obedience!
She was willing to say “Be born in me!” Despite the mystery of how God was going to be a baby… or how the One who birthed the stars in the sky was allowing himself to now be birthed by this young girl.
She trusts that God knows what He’s doing. His invitation is for everyone. He will soon be here! His invitation isn’t just for Miriam. It’s for all of you. It’s His great love, reaching down to save the world.