You might notice that while this is the third week of Advent blog posting, it is, in fact, only my second advent post. If you know me, and especially if you knew me during my days as a student, you know it makes me crazy to be late in completing an assignment. However, at a time in my life when it’s difficult to get more than five minutes to myself a day, I’ll just keep doing my best to keep up, knowing that I will probably have some late and/or missing posts.
The reading this past week came from Luke 1:26-38 and told about the angel Gabriel visiting Mary to tell her that she was going to give birth to the Son of God. Wow. I cannot even BEGIN to wrap my mind around what that must have felt like and how strange and scary it must have seemed, especially considering that Mary may have been as young as 12 years old (according to Bible Gateway). Eek! The commentary I read on Bible Gateway talked about the contrast between the very public circumstances surrounding the birth of John the Baptist versus this quiet, private exchange between Mary and Gabriel and the not-so-public, quiet circumstances of Jesus’ birth. I love this about our Lord. Certainly there are times for loud celebrations, but I love Christ’s quiet, humble entrance to the world. The Bible Gateway commentary also pointed out the fact that while Mary was obedient and had many admirable qualities, she was chosen to be the mother of Jesus because of God’s grace, not because of her merit. I am so thankful that our favor with God is due to His perfect love for us and His grace, not because of our own merit.
The other thing that stood out to me in this passage was Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s message. It seems backwards to me. To start, when Gabriel said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you” in verse 28, verse 29 says that “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” I can understand being greatly troubled by the news the angel gave her, but this response was before she received the news. I could also understand being greatly troubled by sudden appearance of an angel, but the Bible says she was troubled by his words, not his presence or appearance. This seems odd to me, but I wonder if Mary started thinking, “Why me? Are you sure you have the right person?” from the beginning, before she even knew the role she would play in the birth of Jesus, simply because she could not grasp why she should be called “highly favored.” Especially during my darkest moments, when I see the darkness of sin in me and the need for a pure heart, I wonder the same thing. Why me? Are you sure you have the right person? Why do I get to be part of the “we” in 1 John 1:3, “…that we should be called the children of God?” But when I ask that question, though it may masquerade as a humble question, I remember there is a fine line between pride and humility–humility in being aware that I do not deserve the love and favor Christ bestows upon me, but pride if I begin to think that my sin is too great to be covered by the grace of God. Heavenly Father, help me to see myself as You do, to have a truly humble heart, to be aware of my fallen state and my need for a Savior, but to be full of gratitude for the grace, mercy, and love You lavish on me so greatly that your grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
The second part of her reaction that is surprising to me is that, while she was greatly troubled at Gabriel’s greeting, she responded with calm acceptance after she heard the part of the message that I would think would be the most troubling (i.e., You’re going to give birth to a baby whose father is not your betrothed husband, and also He will be called the Son of God. No pressure…). After hearing what must have been troubling, confusing news, she simply responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (verse 38). Heavenly Father, may I respond to You with such humility and quiet obedience, full of the peace that comes from trusting in Your loving sovereignty.