In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph,of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. –Luke 1:26-38 ESV
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. –Matthew 1:18-25
That’s a lot of scripture to include in a post but I want to draw your attention to two verses, Luke 1:38 and Matthew 1:24. After Gabriel delivers God’s message to Mary her response is that she is the servant of the Lord, adding “let it be to me according to your word.” After Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife, despite the fact she is already with child, he did as the angel commanded. The message and the circumstances were extraordinary but Joseph and Mary responded together in faith.
As Jesus began his public ministry, his fame spread very quickly. Even before the information age and social media, he was not able to keep word from spreading and the masses from assembling everywhere he and the disciples went. Jesus was not able to enter into towns and villages because of the crowds, which is why we often read about him preaching on mountainsides or standing in a boat while the multitude gathered by the sea. But when he returned to his hometown of Nazareth he marveled at their unbelief. Those people knew him simply as a carpenter, the son of Mary, and they were amazed at his teachings and could not understand where his wisdom came from. Because of their unbelief he could no great works in Nazareth, Mark 6:5 noting that he healed a few people. How many times did Jesus tell others it was their faith that healed them and made them whole?
Faith is more than belief, it is belief that motives us to action. Fear is the enemy of faith. Fear can silence even a believer. How many times after the fact have you looked back on a missed opportunity and thought “I should have said something?” Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus, but when he got distracted by the wind and the waves he began to sink. And then what? He called out to Jesus to save him and Jesus saved him! His faith was shaken still in the one who is able to save. The Bible never says that Joseph wasn’t afraid or the Mary wasn’t confused; it says they acted in faith. Their faith was not in their ability or understanding but in the same God that slayed Goliath with a small stone and brought down the walls of Jericho with the shouts of the Hebrews. God is motivated to action by our faith. Even Jesus could do no great work in a place where there was little faith.
If we expect to see great works, we must be people of great faith.