The Unfolding Plan of God

Sermon from Luke 1:26-38

Upon being told by the angel Gabriel that she was going to bear the Son of God, Mary’s response was profound. She said:

Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.

Luke 1:38

The more we study the Scripture, the more we see that it is a unified story. The plan of God begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation, but it is one story with one master plan of God that unfolds throughout. At our place in history, we are able to see that a lot of it has already unfolded, but many of the people we read about in the Bible understood much less about God’s plan than we do today.

Consider how limited King David’s understanding of his own life would have been. In 2 Samuel 7, David was told that he was not the one intended to build the Lord’s temple, and he understood that to mean that it was his son, Solomon, who would be the one to build the temple. However, in the larger scheme of redemptive history, we understand now that it is Jesus, God’s Son, who was the ultimate temple builder. In his flesh, he became the temple of the Lord in order that God’s children could themselves become a spiritual house to be the dwelling place of the Spirit of God. So David’s understanding did have merit, but it was only a very small sliver of the larger unfolding of the plan of God. We have indications from David’s writings in the Psalms that he understood small glimpses of what was to come, but he could not have grasped the full plan of God.

In the same way, what Mary manifested in her person was the willingness to say yes to God even though she could not possibly understand the depth of what was unfolding. We can contrast Mary’s humble acceptance to Zechariah’s doubt just a few verses earlier in Luke 1:18: “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” This proves that even priests don’t always have superior understanding of God’s plan!

It is wonderful how God chooses the humble, lowly, and ordinary to accomplish his wonderful plan. Mary was just a normal, ordinary teenage girl from a small town. But it was her attitude, humility, and faith that made her able to be used so marvelously by God. “Let it be with me.” She completely committed to God’s will over her own. Looking back now, we consider her to be a highly favored one, blessed, exalted above other women. However, at the time, she was just a young lady like all the other young ladies. But she submitted herself to God’s plan, and she was used for an exceptional task.

May we submit ourselves to the unfolding plan of God the same way that she did, and may we be used for extraordinary things the way she was. She was the only one to physically give birth to God’s Son, but all of us are God-bearers (Greek: Theotokos), bearers of God’s image in this world. Just as she did, may we also say, “I am the Lord’s servant; let it be to me according to your word.” This is what it means to be a Christian, a “little Christ.”

Paul illustrated this in his letter to the Romans:

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2, NIV

Just like God had a good, pleasing, and perfect will for Mary, he has a good, pleasing, and perfect will for each of us. We only need to respond, “Let it be to me according to your word.” How can we know what God’s plan is for our lives? It’s simple. First, we must be willing to do whatever he wants. Second, we must listen for his voice and search the Scriptures for his word. He will marvelously use those who are completely submitted to him.

Not all of us can be a Blessed Virgin Mary. Not all of us can be Dr. Billy Graham. But we can all be used by God to marvelously impact those around us and work his unfolding plan of salvation in this world.