Each Christmas as I read the account of the angel appearing to Mary, I am impressed and challenged by Mary’s response.
Luke 1:26-38, 46-55 NIV
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you. “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy One to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
I can only begin to imagine how stunned Mary must have been by the angel’s pronouncement. I’m sure in that one moment Mary’s world was turned upside down and all the plans that she and Joseph had made were changed forever.
Can you imagine the range of emotions that she must have experienced?
I wonder how I would respond if an angel came to me with this announcement?
I love Mary’s honest question and then her beautiful response in vs. 46.
“How can this be?” “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”
Mary re-stated her own relationship with the Lord (I’m His servant) and accepted God’s plan for her life even though it wasn’t the plan she had envisioned. I am deeply humbled by her response and I have to ask myself, how do I respond when the Lord “interrupts” MY plan for MY life?
Am I willing to accept His plan with faith (believing even though I don’t understand) and grace (trusting that God knows exactly what He is doing)? Or do I respond by complaining and arguing with God?
Fear is understandable, but do I allow fear to keep me from embracing God’s plan and instead, demand my own way? What if Mary had let her fear and the opinions of other people keep her from fulfilling God’s purpose for her life?
How do I let my fear and the opinions of others keep me from fulfilling God’s greatest purpose for my life?
But then I am completely blown away by Mary’s further response: She sings a song of Joy.
And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of His servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me– Holy is His name. His mercy extends to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers.” (Luke 1:46-55 NIV)
Now I know from an eternal perspective that what God asked of her was the ultimate honor but she still had to live in the real world. Mary had to face her husband-to-be, her family and all her accusers with the facts: she was un-wed and pregnant. Do you think other people would ever believe her if she told them that she was going to give birth to the “Son of God”? Just try to imagine the ridicule and the weight of the accusations that Mary was asked to carry.
Yet, Mary still chose to obey God with overflowing joy.
I am amazed and challenged by Mary’s joyful obedience. I truly believe that this is one of the most beautiful expressions of worship ever recorded:
“Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! For He took notice of His lowly servant girl and from now on all generations will call me blessed. For the Mighty One is holy, and He has done great things for me.” Luke 1:46-49 NLT
It is only by the grace of God that she was able to accomplish what God had asked of her. Jesus was Her Prince of Peace and her Immanuel (God with us) even before He was born.
I pray that my life during this very busy Christmas season and throughout the New Year is an echo of Mary’s response to God, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” “Oh, how my soul praises the Lord. How my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! …For the Mighty One is holy and He has done great things for me.”