(Note: I am seriously considering having my class read the “Christmas Story” from each of the Gospels and discussing pertinent points and allowing class members to ask questions they may have and make appropriate comments along the way. I would use the following passages—
John 1:1-18 Starts at the beginning with the Word. Key verse
Matthew 1:18-2:12 Tells of Jesus’ birth from Joseph’s view point. Key verse Matt. 1:23.
Luke 1:5-38; 2:1-20 Luke’s gospel tells of Jesus’ birth primarily from Mary’s view point.
The Gospel of Mark was written in Greek for a Greek speaking audience. He does not actually cover a record of Jesus’ birth.)
Promise Kept (lesson plan)!
1. When have you had to wait for something that was a long time coming?
Until God sent the angel Gabriel to speak to Zechariah in Luke 1:11 God had been silent 400 years. The prophet Malachi had brought the last message from God in the Old Testament. That doesn’t mean God wasn’t moving and working. Galatians 4:4 “But when the set time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law.”
In today’s passage, the angel Gabriel brings Mary the most unexpected, life-changing news. Imagine some of the emotions Mary might have felt as she heard Gabriel’s message and began to understand the role she would play in God’s plan for a Savior.
Have a good reader read the three paragraphs “Understand the context” from the Leader’s Guide, pages 44-45.
As is evident here God used heavenly messengers, like Gabriel, to share the news of His plan with the world. Notice the angel’s description of Jesus in Luke 1:32-33.
2. What does this teach about Jesus’ relationship with believers?
As we turn our attention to Luke 1 in today’s study, we see the promise God kept in sending His Son! God calls us to trust Him as we wait for answers to prayer, and He also calls us to believe Him when the answers we receive are unexpected!
The Greeting! Read Luke 1:28-29
1. What’s the significance of God’s choice of Mary and Joseph as Jesus’ earthly parents? (As prophesied—Isa. 9:7—Jesus’ earthly parents were from the lineage of David.)
Ask someone to read the paragraph that begins, “Twice in verse 27 Mary is called…” (PSG p. 39).
2. Mary was deeply troubled. How might Mary have viewed herself at that moment?
3. How do you think God saw Mary?
4. Would you consider Gabriel’s message more troubling or confusing? (Many young Jewish girls desired to be the mother of the Messiah. Mary was an ordinary village girl from a small town in Galilee—300ish population with no public buildings.)
5. Because of God’s love for us, He took the initiative to provide redemption. What is the relationship between God’s grace and His promised presence?
6. Why is it important for people to understand that God takes the initiative to relate to humanity and provide salvation?
God can intervene in our life circumstances in unexpected ways if we are open to see Him work!
We see from the encounter between Gabriel and Mary that God took the first steps in His plan of salvation. Now let’s see how God’s promise of a Savior would be fulfilled.
1. How do you feel when someone keeps a promise?
These next few verses remind us that God is the ultimate Promise-Keeper!
The Promise! Read Luke 1:30-33
2. How would Mary’s baby fulfill Old Testament prophecies?
The phrase “Do not be afraid,” is found throughout Scripture. Almost always when a supernatural event occurs it is to give us assurance that what is about to happen is God working. God wants to replace our fears with strong faith.
3. Why is knowing the promises of God important to believers?
4. How does God’s keeping of His past promises give people hope for today?
5. How did the Jewish people know they should be looking for a Messiah? (God foretold the coming of the Messiah throughout the Old Testament, beginning with Genesis. All of the prophecies foretold about Jesus came to pass through His life, death, and resurrection. The Jews expected an earthly king and, in general, did not accept Him when He came to them.)
Gabriel identified the coming Child to Mary as being Deity. Though He came to earth through normal means, Jesus was not just an ordinary boy being born into an ordinary family in an ordinary town. Jesus is the Son of God, the promised Messiah, who came to save those who choose to follow Him. God always fulfills His promises, though often in ways that we do not anticipate.
The Explanation! Read Luke 1:34-37
Note that Mary did not seem to doubt the miracle Gabriel described, but she questioned how it could happen.
1. How did Gabriel answer Mary’s questions?
Affirm that there can be times in our lives when we wrestle with honest questions about how God’s plan will unfold.
Here we understand how Jesus is fully God and fully human at the same time! This is the miracle of the incarnation (Emmanuel, God with us)!
2. How was the motivation behind Mary’s question in verse 34 different from Zechariah’s question in verse 18? (Mary’s question stemmed from uncertainty of how pregnancy could be possible for her, while Zechariah’s question revealed his disbelief that God could give him a son.)
3. Why is it important for people to know that Jesus was the Son of God?
4. How does His identity give us clues about why Jesus came to earth?
5. What confirmation does God give us that He can do the impossible in our lives? (Confirmation is evident throughout Scripture that God can and does accomplish the impossible and will fulfill His promises to us as well.
Like God provided Elizabeth for Mary, God gives us fellow believers to encourage us in our faith!
We see how Gabriel responded to Mary’s hard questions with honest answers that secured her confidence in God’s plan. Now let’s listen for Mary’s commitment to following God’s plan.
The Commitment! Read Luke 1:38
1. How would you describe Mary’s response to what God’s plan was for her life?
2. What rights did a slave have? (None. The slave was completely committed to the will of their owner.)
3. What difficulties would Mary have to deal with in the coming days? (A young virgin pregnant! Her engagement to Joseph! The disgrace she would bring upon her family.)
Summarize and Challenge!
1. How will we respond to God’s will for our lives, especially when His plan is different than we imagined?
2. What are some ways in which you can take God at His word and believe Him this week?
God keeps His promises, but we have to step out in obedience and faith.
3. What can you do this Christmas to keep the focus on Christ?
4. How can you express your appreciation to God for His incredible salvation through the way you celebrate Jesus’ birth?
5. What are some practical ways to keep the Christmas focus on Christ, as individuals and as families gather?
Let’s try to turn away from the holiday distractions and focus on the celebration of the Savior in these coming days!
As the year is ending and the new year approaches, pray and ask God in what areas of your life you need to step out in faith this next year.