By Brooke Holt
“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
It was a day just like any other day for Mary. In her every day, usual tasks, Mary had a completely unexpected visitor with quite an unusual greeting: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” Surely, Mary looked around to see if he was speaking to another. Why would this grandiose angel be speaking to her and especially with such words of favor?
You know the rest of the story. God chose this young virgin girl to be the mother of his Son, the promised Messiah. On a day like any other day, Mary heard the announcement that would forever change her life and the lives of everyone. Why Mary? Why that day at that time in that place? Mary was “graced” by God. She wasn’t perfect nor would she be perfect. She was set apart, given favor of the Lord despite her imperfection. Mary was chosen because of God’s sovereign will, not her own merit. And Mary was then filled with the Holy Spirit, overshadowed by the power of the Most High. Jesus would come and dwell within her not because of her physical relations but because of that divine power that filled and overshadowed her.
Mary was given God’s favor, then called to the high and holy honor to bear the Christ child through his divine power and presence. That is a lot to take in for anyone, let alone a teenage girl! Yet, Mary faithfully responded to the Lord: “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (v. 38). And Mary’s life was never the same. She held the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She rocked and bathed and fed her Savior, the Savior of the world, the one who would die for her sins. Mary’s heart would be filled with the greatest joy and would be broken through the sorrow of seeing her beloved Son hanging on the cross.
Every biblical story and character are there to instruct you in how to live, Mary included. You now are one whom the Lord calls his “favored one.” That one who covers you with grace is also the one who is with you and in you. He is the very one who set you apart in your mother’s womb for a divine calling for such a time as this. And the very best news is that with that favor and that calling come his divine power. Just like the Holy Spirit filled Mary’s womb and overshadowed her, so that Holy Spirit fills you and longs to overshadow you.
How do you respond to this divine announcement? Do you, like Mary, feel fear and confusion asking, “How can this be?” Today may be like every other day, but it is also the day when God reminds you of his favor, his call, and his power. The Lord of Lords has called you to himself and set you apart for his holy work in this world. May you exclaim with Mary, “Lord, I am your servant. Have your way with me today and every day!”
This Christmas season, we are called to God’s divine favor, calling, and presence. How will you respond to him today? How is he calling you to surrender to him as Mary did? What hinders you from fully embracing his favor, his presence, his calling, and his power? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Let's face it, the Christian life is hard. Relationships take work. Christians forget. Sometimes it is tempting to go back to the days when God was not the center of our lives - to backslide. We are all faced with tremendous pressures to drift away from intimacy with Jesus and the community of the Church. However, the Lord invites us to pay attention, to move forward, to draw near, and to live lives of worship. Draw Near: Hebrews on Christian Worship is a small group Bible study on the Book of Hebrews intended to lead participants into a deeper intimacy with the living God in the context of New Testament worship. Draw nearer to God in authentic worship today!
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