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Luke 1:26-56; Matthew 1:18-25


     A. In the Scripture texts before us today, we find two people who learned to overcome the natural tendency to disobey God, and to follow His call to obedience.

- Mary and Joseph help us to frame a picture of obedience in its full context and reveal to us the difficulty and delight of devotion to God.

- READ Luke 1:26-56

- What can we learn from this text that applies to us today?


     A. Nazareth was a small, obscure village nestled in the hill country halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea .

- Nazareth had little to offer – compared to Athens, Rome, Cairo, or even Jerusalem, it was merely a dull, monotonous dwelling place where nothing exciting ever occurred.

- Mary lived in Nazareth .

- We have no indication of her personal appearance that would set her apart from other girls.

- To the human eye, she was probably an ordinary young teenager; but in the heart of God, she was an extraordinary person whom He chose to favor.

- The angel Gabriel greeted her as one who was “highly favored”, meaning one who had been given grace.

- God’s grace is always a result of His initiative, not our merit.

- Mary, having received God’s grace and promise, embraced the consequences.

- She obeyed God in spite of the difficulties and conflict she inevitably would face. 

     B. Mary was a virgin.

- She kept her body pure as an expression of obedience to God, and she kept her mind alert with Scripture as a defense against sin.

- Mary heard from Gabriel what soon would happen, but she didn’t know how it would happen.

- After all, how could a virgin give birth?

- Mary apparently considered the entire situation to be impossible.

- But Gabriel’s final statement affirms (v.38) “NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE WITH GOD”.

     C. We, like Mary find ourselves facing circumstances that require obedience, even when we don’t fully understand the details.

- We have to accept the fact that at the heart of obedience is a faith that God can make the impossible possible.

- Mary didn’t demand an explanation – she didn’t complain that she had insufficient information.

- She simply obeyed – She said (v.38) “May it be done to me as you have said”. 

      D. Obedience for Christ followers is not an option that depends on our circumstances.

- It is a duty in spite of the circumstances.

- If we obey only when we want to and believe only what is understandable, we do not trust God, we trust only ourselves.

- We are called to trust the heart of God, even when we cannot trace the hand of God.


- Circumstances can make obedience perplexing, and conflict can make it painful.

            A. When Joseph learned that Mary was pregnant, the news must have been extremely painful for him.

- He assumed the worst – He thought she had been unfaithful.

- Under Jewish law the engagement period was viewed as legally binding.

- While the engaged couple did not live together or have a sexual relationship, for all intents and purposes, under the law they were married.

- According to the law, Joseph had two options: 1) He could divorce Mary publicly and shame her in a court of justice; 2) or he could divorce her in a private setting, saving her from public humiliation.

- v.19 tells us “(he) did not want to expose her to public disgrace”.

- This speaks to the depth and tenderness of Joseph’s love – it also speaks to why God chose him as the step-father for His Son.

- In the midst of his own hurt, he was thinking of Mary’s feelings and welfare.

- In his head he knew the stature of the law, i.e., he knew that legally he could hurt her for life and no one would think less of him for it, but in his heart he felt the greatness of love.

- But before Joseph could act on his inclination, an angel of the Lord informed him that Mary was pregnant by means of the Holy Spirit and that he should take her as his wife.

- Joseph obeyed the angel’s message in the midst of conflicting feelings. 

     B. Obedience is rarely easy or convenient.

- Conflict, struggle, and agony are frequently present.

- Obedience is not a formula dictated by the law, it is an attitude in the heart of a person who says, “I want to follow God”.

- Joseph’s obedience is a refreshing testimony to anyone who has experienced the distress of conflict.

- His action reminds us that obedience doesn’t afford us the luxury of being neutral.

[ - C.S. Lewis acknowledged that, “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counter-claimed by Satan.”]

     C. Conflict is inevitable when righteousness seems so difficult and selfishness seems so appropriate.

- But God often shapes His best warriors in the wilderness of conflict.

- For Joseph, obedience meant yielding his opinions and desires to the will of God.

[- After Eric Liddell won a gold medal for Great Britain, he went on to serve the Lord as a missionary and eventually died as a prisoner in China during World War II

- He understood the meaning of obedience in spite of conflict.

- He wrote, “Obedience to God’s will is the secret of spiritual knowledge and insight. It is not willingness to know, but willingness to do God’s will that brings certainty.”]


            A. Mary and Joseph probably believed that the culture in which they lived wouldn’t embrace the idea that she was going to give birth to the Messiah.

- If Mary and Joseph had waiting for society to approve their faith, they never would have taken the first step toward obedience.

- If they had depended on the approval of the religious priests and the socially elite, they would have never traveled the road to Bethlehem .

- A sad but certain commentary on some individuals today is that they raise the flag of conviction only after they’ve determined the prevailing wind of cultural opinion.

            B. Mary and Joseph submitted to God’s purpose and accepted the embarrassment from a culture that would spread despicable rumors and count the months from marriage to birth.

- They no doubt noticed the stares and overheard the whispers.

- They learned that obedience is a profound cultural battle concerning people’s thoughts and actions as opposed to God’s thoughts and ways.

- Mary and Joseph were willing to move against the current of society to honor God.


- “If you and I are going to be faithful to the ministry God is calling us to, then we had better understand that it may require us moving against the current of today’s society.

- “I reflected on the attitudes of key people throughout the Scriptures and the history of the church.

- The world's a better place because Noah didn't say, "I don't do arks and animals."

- The world's a better place because David didn't say, "I don't do giants."

- The world's a better place because Mary didn't say, "I don't do virgin births."

- The world's a better place because Jesus didn't say, "I don't do crosses."

- And the world will be a better place only if you and I don't say, "I don't do ..."

- Where do you feel the tug on your heart this morning?

- In what area of your life is God calling you to obedience?

- Perhaps there’s a bad habit you need to break – maybe there’s a person you’ve had conflict with, and God is calling you to reconciliation?

- Possibly you’ve been disobedient to the conviction the Holy Spirit has brought you concerning prayer or the study of God’s Word?

- Perhaps today is the day that you say to God, “There is nothing I won’t do for you.”