Mike Novotny - It's Best When You're Not the Best
I'm standing here in beautiful Nazareth. It's an amazing day in Israel and this is an amazing place. Just behind me is a massive basilica called the Basilica of the Annunciation. And many people believe this is the place where the angel Gabriel showed up and spoke to Mary, announced the good news that the Savior of the world would be born through her.
Now, Nazareth is a huge city today, tens of thousands of people fill it. But back in the day, 2,000 years ago, it was very, very different. In fact, you might know the story from the Gospels. When someone heard that Jesus of Nazareth might be the messiah, the response was, "Nazareth? Can anything good come from there"? Nazareth was such a dinky village and place that no one could fathom that something that good could come from a place so small.
But I actually love that fact about the story of Jesus. I love the fact that he didn't come from riches or a famous family. He wasn't born in a palace, his birth wasn't announced in the holy city of Jerusalem. Instead, it happened here in this little place. Because that simple fact makes me think of this powerful passage in the book of 1 Corinthians. Here's what it says, "Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus".
Now, what happened in Nazareth is this great reminder that God isn't looking just for the best and the brightest, the smartest and the strongest. He simply picks people who don't deserve it. Like Mary, where he announced the good news. And he announces that same good news to you. That through Jesus of Nazareth, there is forgiveness and there is hope, there is eternal life, there's a place at the table in the family of God.
It reminds me of this great story that C.S. Lewis told in his book "The Great Divorce". In it, the main character sees this little glimpse of heaven and this massive procession comes up with this woman who looked like a queen, who had servants and this chariot and this horse. And the guy asked, "Who's that? She must be famous, important". But then the angel told her the truth. She was just a regular person on earth. Someone who had trust in Jesus, someone who humbly served, but God exalts the humble. He did it with her, he did it with lowly Mary, and he does it with us.
So remember the status that you have through faith in Jesus. That you might not be smart or noble, influential, but through him you are righteous, holy, redeemed, perfect, a child of the King of kings, a brother of the Lord of lords. Let's celebrate the good news of Nazareth that God exalts the humble and gives pure grace to those who don't deserve it.