International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday December 4, 2016
Purpose: To act on God’s call and promises in spite of our questions
Bible Lesson: Luke 1:26-38
Key Verse: “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:31)
Luke 1:26-38 (CEB)
(26) When Elizabeth was six months pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a city in Galilee,
(27) to a virgin who was engaged to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. (28) When the angel came to her, he said, “Rejoice, favored one! The Lord is with you!”
(29) She was confused by these words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. (30) The angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Mary. God is honoring you.
(31) Look! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. (32) He will be great and he will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. (33) He will rule over Jacob’s house forever, and there will be no end to his kingdom.”
(34) Then Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen since I haven’t had sexual relations with a man?” (35) The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come over you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the one who is to be born will be holy. He will be called God’s Son. (36) Look, even in her old age, your relative Elizabeth has conceived a son. This woman who was labeled ‘unable to conceive’ is now six months pregnant. (37) Nothing is impossible for God.”
(38) Then Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Some Thoughts by Burgess Walter
Our first lesson this quarter focuses on God’s calling of Mary to serve as the mother of Jesus, our Lord. This is a foundational event for our faith, but it is also an example for us about how God works in the world and how we can respond to God’s call today.
I would suggest you read each of the following passages before teaching or understanding our printed text: Genesis 18:1-15; 2 Samuel 7:11-16; Isaiah 9:1-7. Also, be sure you read Luke 1:18-20.
These passages give you a background for all that Gabriel said to Mary. Mary was not a celebrity or distinct in any way except in her willingness to be a servant of God. She was not a “reality TV star.” and she had nothing, seen by the world, that would make her a likely candidate to become the one chosen by God to bear a child fathered by God’s spirit. God was asking her to bear an “out-of-wedlock” child. Think of the stigma this would bring in that community. I do not think this was any small favor that God was asking. I am not sure we appreciate the sacrifice made by Mary.
Mary’s example is one we should all emulate; our prayer should be to be as willing and as obedient as this poor peasant girl. She accepted God’s call on her life willingly and humbly. Her response “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.”
Those words are a perfect response for anytime God calls us. My personal prayer is “Let it be with me just as you have said.”
That all of this takes place in Galilee and as recorded in Isaiah 9 “Nonetheless, those who were in distress won’t be exhausted. At an earlier time, God cursed the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but later he glorified the way of the sea, the far side of the Jordan, and the Galilee of the nations.
In our modern world, we would never select Nazareth, away from the bright lights of Jerusalem. But when you highlight “Galilee of the nations” as Isaiah did you see God’s hand looking ahead to not just a Messiah for the Jews but a Messiah for the nations.
My hymn for this week is one that tells the story of our lesson, but may not be familiar to a lot of you “To a Maid Engaged to Joseph.”