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.
Before I start typing away, let me first say that I can't take credit for anything that you are about to read. We went to my parent's church this past Sunday and it is the church we will most likely join. David Nasser is the pastor and if you've ever heard him preach you know that you never leave the same. He can take a passage from Scripture, like the one above, one that you've read a hundred times before, and make it seem that you've never read it before.
Sunday he preached on Mary and what it really means to find favor with God. I guess since I am a mother and my child was born during the Christmas season, I am really drawn to Mary and even more so after Sunday.
Mary was from a devout Jewish family and therefore knew about all the prophecies foretold about the birth of her Savior. She knew He would be born of a virgin, she knew He would be a perfect sinless man, she knew He would be a humble servant, she knew He would be beaten, and she knew He would die the most grueling death for the sins of mankind.
So can you imagine the rush of emotion that fell over her as she heard the words of the angel telling her she was favored with God, was going to conceive and give birth to a baby, she would name the baby Jesus, and He would bring salvation to the lost?
Really. Can you even put yourself in her shoes?
In that very moment with Gabriel Mary realized that all the prophecies she was eagerly expecting to be fulfilled were going to be fulfilled in her womb. And that sinless baby was going to grow into a sinless man and be killed for the sins of others was her precious baby boy? That baby promised to be born to save her was going to be formed in her.
That's one of those things that just can't sink in all the way into my soul. It's too big.
Mary is told twice that she is favored by God. Favored? Then why was she chosen to give birth to a baby boy whose horrible murder she would live to see?
I thought being highly favored was finding the best parking spot in Walmart?
Favor with God does not mean favors from God.
For Mary, favor with God meant the loss of the reputation of herself, Joseph, and her family. Favor with God meant witnessing the pain-filled beating of her Son. Favor with God meant outliving her perfect Son.
Do we really want favor with God? Because if you do, be prepared for hardship and heartache. Do you really want favor with God?
You do, I think you really do. Because the alternative is no favor with God.
"I am your servant, let it be to me according to your word."
If you care to listen, here are two of my favorite songs this season: