"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved."
- Ephesians 1:3–6
Scripture Readings: Luke 1:26-38, 2 Samuel 7:11–13,
I love thinking about hypothetical scenarios. I find myself asking a lot of "what would you do if ______ happened?" questions to my friends and family. Most of the times the situations are completely far-fetched and would never happen, but they would all point to an extreme outcome (whether hilarious or bizarre). Through this, although the situation itself is unreal, I get to see a small glimpse into that person's character when hearing about how they'd react.
During this season of celebrating the birth of Christ, I can't help but to figuratively put myself in Mary's shoes. While reading the story of how the angel Gabriel visited her and told her she would conceive, not just a baby, but the SAVIOR Jews have been eagerly waiting for- what would I have done? What would you have done? What is our first inclination when God calls us to do something completely out of our comfort zone? This question is so important and can reveal aspects of our heart that we have yet to face.
How did Mary react and what can we learn from her response?
Keep that question in the back of your mind while we dissect some verses for context!
"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. "
- Luke 1:26–27
Here we have introduced not only Mary but also Joseph, the one to whom she is betrothed to. Why does Luke, the Author, put emphasis on him being from "the house of David"?
Already in the beginning of the story, God's promises in the Old Testament are rising to the surface again, and the consistency of Scripture is shining through.
In 2 Samuel 7:11–13, God promises to King David that from his line of descendants, someone will build a house for God's name and establish the throne of His kingdom forever.
"When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever."
This little fact is immensely important because it was a crucial marking for the coming of the Messiah.
Another important factor that we see in Luke 1:26–27 is that Mary was a virgin. That "virgin" specifies Mary as a young girl of marriageable age, and as one who has not yet partaken in any sexual relations.
Joseph is from the line of David, revered with an honorable title. Mary, however, does not have access to inheriting that title because she has yet to be married into his family. To others, she would appear least likely for God to use because of her seemingly insignificant role in society. However, God takes Mary from her lowly status and raises her up to play a crucial role in redemptive history.
"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.'" (vv. 28–33)
Here, she is referred to as "favored one"- isn't that amazing?!
Mary, the one who seemed to be measured low in class, gender, age, etc., who is currently residing in Nazareth, Galilee (a place that is known by others to be insignificant, despised and unclean), is called favored by God! One of the things I love about God's plan throughout The Bible, and even history, is that he uses people that society would pick out as having no real significance or ability. Yet God doesn't call us based off of the title we have been given by others, but by the identity he has graciously sealed us in through Him. When you stop looking to yourself and start looking towards The Lord, your reliance on Him makes you a top candidate for God to work through you for great, eternal significance.
"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."
The response is astounding.
"Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."
No doubt there were horrible rumors that would inevitably spread after conceiving a child apart from her husband. And absolutely she would have had hard moments trying to explain to her friends, and even her betrothed husband what had happened. And even on her part, there were most likely days when she would wonder why she out of all people was chosen to carry out this task.
Yet in that moment, Mary completely embraces the purpose God had given her without regarding the cost to her personally. Knowing with confidence her identity isn't in others but in God.
Regarding herself as God's servant, Mary submits to God's plan.
Now let's think about this on a scale we all deal with every day- have you given up every aspect of your life to The Lord? If God called you to do something that completely took you out of your comfort zone, would you trust in Him? Would you be consumed in worrying about what others would think? Or is your identity in Christ alone?
Mary didn't know that she would later be standing at the foot of the cross, yet she submitted. And now we have access to spending eternity with our loving Father, who shows that He will go to any length in order to initiate His plan and fight for the reconciliation of His people.
When The Lord calls us, we don't look to the possible circumstances, we look to Him.