This passage is about Jesus first and foremost. And it's about God's redeeming purposes first and foremost. But even as we exalt God and Christ, as we see the redeeming purposes of the Lord and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ unfolded in this passage, we also learn some things about how to live to Christ and die to self and the world in this passage. Five words, I think, sum up some of these lessons that we learn: Humility, Privilege, Mystery, Sovereignty, and, Submission. Let me look at these five things with you briefly in this passage this morning.

I. Humility

The first one is Humility. Look at verses 26 -27. It's an amazing announcement that's given to this young woman, isn't it? Look at verse 26: "In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God...." We're expecting that because of the Old Testament. But this we're not expecting, look at the next phrase: "...to a city of Galilee named Nazareth." Now that we weren't expecting. And doesn't that very fact point to the amazing, loving condescension of God?

God had not appointed Gabriel to go into Jerusalem to the family of the high priest and say to Caiaphas's daughter. No, He had sent the angel Gabriel into Galilee, of all places, and to Nazareth, of which there was an axiom: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" That's where God sends Gabriel. That's the girl that God chooses. And doesn't that tell us something about how we ought to be marching to the beat of a different drum? Instead of worshiping status and stuff, to having received much, to becoming generous in our humility?

II. Privilege

A second word: Privilege. Christians for hundreds of years have meditated upon the privilege that Mary had as the one who was going to be the mother of the Messiah. But as you think about the privilege of Mary in bearing and mothering the Messiah, God's only Son, you ought also to think about the privilege that you have in being children of God through faith in Him.

You remember what John says in John 1:11-12?

"He came [Jesus came] to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to be the children of God."

My friends, do not discount your gospel privileges! It is totally appropriate for us to honor this godly young woman whose charge it was to nurture the One who would be our Savior, the Messiah promised of God. But, my friends, we must not do it at the discount of the heavenly promise that is given to all those who by faith in Christ have become children of God. Those words come from Jesus himself, and we must meditate upon the privilege that we've been given.

III. Mystery

Third word: Mystery. The virgin birth - mystery. Perhaps you've stumbled over it. If so, join the club. So did Mary. After the angel Gabriel in verses 30-33 has explained to Mary what is going to happen, her response is, "How? How is this going to happen? I don't understand. I'm a virgin. How am I going to have a baby? I mean, it's miraculous, Gabriel, that cousin Elizabeth is going to have a baby. She's up there in years. But she's got something that I don't have. She's got a relationship with a husband. How am I going to have a baby?"

My friends, if you believe in an infinite God, then there are going to be mysteries in your religion. If you believe in a God who has no bounds, no limits, no finitude, and is all-powerful and all-knowing, then there are going to be things that are beyond your knowing in His display of His power. And this is not a problem for faith; it is a proof of it. The mystery of the virgin birth, far from a problem for faith, proves the worthiness of God to be worshiped and the importance of our walking by faith and not by sight. Do not despise mysteries. In a religion in which we worship an infinite, omnipotent God, there are going to be mysteries.

IV. Sovereignty

So that leads us to the fourth word that I want to speak with you about, and that's the word Sovereignty. You'll see in verse 37 the angel Gabriel's response to Mary's query: "For nothing will be impossible with God." The sovereignty of God is seen in the angel Gabriel's answer regarding the virgin birth and the birth of John the Baptist to Mary's cousin Elizabeth. And the answer is simply this: "Mary, this is how you know: because there's nothing He can't do! The way you know this will happen is because there's nothing He can't do. He's sovereign. He's all-powerful, He's omnipotent, He's God! That's how you know."

There's a huge message in this for us, both for the gospel and for the Christian life. Salvation is all of God and all of grace. It also tells you something about how we are to live the Christian life, trusting God and His sovereignty just like Paul says Abraham did, in Romans 4. He believed God despite all evidence to the contrary. He believed the promise of God because of the sovereign power of God. It's not only that we're not going to, like the world, worship status and stuff; but we're going to live in humility emulating our Savior.

V. Submission.

This is our fifth word. Not just Humility and Privilege and Mystery and Sovereignty, but also Submission. We learn a lot about the nature of the Christian life from Mary's response to the angel: "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord," she says. "Be it done to me according to your word." There is a bravery and a faith and a humility displayed by Mary in this word that shows that she understood that the burden that she was going to carry, dangerous as it was going to be, was in fact going to be freedom for her. Her bondage, her service, her servitude, was going to mean freedom. And there is a submission that understands this that is the very heart of the Christian life.

The Christian life can be summarized in Mary's response to Gabriel. It is a God-centered believing, thinking and living that she manifests, and a self-renouncing service that she evidences. And, my friends, this is at the very heart of a believing response to the gospel. If you believe the gospel and your whole life has been reoriented around God and His word, and you begin to serve others in self-renouncing love, you find that it is not burdensome. It's freeing. And all the freedom that the world promised you in violation of God's word is in fact bondage. And you're the only one around you who's free.