Luke 1:28-29 And he came to her and said, "Greetings, the Lord be with you! the Lord be gracious to you" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be.
I want to talk to you about angels, and what they do. My impression is that in our time angels have either been trivialized, or worshipped in place of God. We really don’t run across that many people in the Bible who have an encounter with angels, and it is always a case of special circumstances. Perhaps that’s what bothers me about the program "Touched by an Angel" – it makes angels somewhat incompetent, and rather common. I am certain that part of the shows popularity is that angels care for ordinary people, and many people would like to feel special, that angels are guiding their lives – but that is the problem, because God has given us a Savior and His Word, and these are the things which carry the promise of salvation – not angels. And if people are waiting for angels to guide them – then aren’t they really missing the point – because the point is Jesus, he is our Lord. We dare not let angels take the place of Jesus.
But there is more to this. In scripture, when angels do appear, the people who see them are not comfortable with it, and the angels are always saying – "Don’t be afraid!" At the very least it tells us that even to these special people, the appearance of angels was unexpected. Consider Zechariah, the priest of God and father of John the Baptist, already an old man, he had some experience with the things of God, having been a priest his entire life. But when the Angels appeared to him –
Luke 1:12And Zechari'ah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him.
The angel would go on to tell him of the miraculous birth of John, and he would exit the temple speechless, and remain that way until the child was born. It was certainly not a trivial thing, it was something that everyone kept in memory.
The next angel to appear, appears to Mary, and where Zechariah was troubled, Mary was greatly troubled. How troubling was this? Elsewhere this is used of Jesus walking on the Water, and in the locked upper room, when on Easter Jesus appeared to the disciples. None of these are ordinary. IN Luke the next angel we will meet is the Christmas Angel, who appeared to shepherds in the field keeping watch over their flocks at night, they also were afraid.
The point is that when angels appear, it is a very special event. Which brings us to the center of our text – the greeting. Mary was perplexed at the greeting, and with good reason, there was one other time where an angel had appeared, and given a greeting "The Lord be with you!" That was back in the days of the judges, when God called Gideon to save the people, it all began with an angel who appeared to him, and greeted him - "The Lord be with you!"
We use this greeting still today, it is part of our Liturgy, but it is more than just a greeting – it is a blessing. And our task is, whenever we hear this, to remember that it is just as special as if an angel had appeared to us – and to consider how it is that the Lord is with us, even now.