The Gospel of John – Message to Mary
Luke 1: 20-38; Sunday, November 29, 2020
It is a tall order for Mary to believe the news of this eternally unprecedented event. So the archangel bolsters her faith with a testimony—her barren relative Elizabeth is now pregnant in her old age, for “nothing will be impossible with God”.
Nothing is impossible with God.
There is no time for Mary to consult with Joseph, her parents, or even Elizabeth. Gabriel awaits an answer. She must decide.
This is not the future she imagined. This wasn’t in the plans. The angel’s words were less request and more message—news of God’s better way. Still, like Zechariah she must choose how to receive it.
When God breaks in we have a choice: embrace or reject, believe or doubt. Either we abandon ourselves to God’s path, the steps of which are only revealed as each foot is lifted in obedience, or we cling to our own path with its illusion of certainty.
Mary chooses to embrace and believe: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
We can see why Mary enjoyed God’s favor. Favor consists in our close conformity with the order established by God; we accept God’s choice for us.
It is hard to believe that God’s redemption plan depended upon the obedient cooperation of a teenage girl. Yet it did. And in the course of ordinary events, souls still today are called by God to a life of perfect submission where we have a role in God’s ongoing work. It seems risky, but it is God’s way.
On the surface, there is little about Mary that would recommend her. She lived a hidden, ordinary life. Her exalted status underscored in Gabriel’s greeting only becomes visible in her complete abandonment to the will and purpose of God.
Miriam Dixon and Margaret Campbell, Meditations on the Birth of Jesus, p. 15f (Renovare Advent Resource) (2019).
TWENTY-FIVE QUESTIONS FOR MARY
What was it like watching him pray?
How did he respond when he saw other kids giggling during the service at the synagogue?
When he saw a rainbow, did he ever mention a flood?
Did you ever feel awkward teaching him how he created the world?
When he saw a lamb being led to the slaughter, did he act differently?
Did you ever see him with a distant look on his face as if he were listening to someone you couldn’t hear?
How did he act at funerals?
Did the thought ever occur to you that the God to whom you were praying was asleep under your own roof?
Did you ever try to count the stars with him…and succeed?
Did he ever come home with a black eye?
How did he act when he got his first haircut?
Did he have any friends by the name of Judas?
Did he do well in school?
Did you ever scold him?
Did he ever have to ask a question about Scripture?
What do you think he thought when he saw a prostitute offering to the highest bidder the body he made?
Did he ever get angry when someone was dishonest with him?
Did you ever catch him pensively looking at the flesh on his own arm while holding a clod of dirt?
Did he ever wake up afraid?
Who was his best friend?
Did you ever accidentally call him Father?
What did he and his cousin John talk about as kids?
Did his other brokers and sisters understand what was happening?
Did you ever think, That’s God eating my soup?
Ed. Calvin Miller, The Book of Jesus, p. 107 (1998).
The angel in these words does not merely announce that the incarnation of Jesus will take place through the direct influence of the Holy Ghost, but also expressly declares that He who will through Him be begotten as Man will be free from all taint of sin—He will be the Holy One. It was necessary for the Redeemer to be “born of a woman” so that He should be of the same nature as those whom He came to save. But it was just as imperative that He should be perfectly holy, since no sinful being can accomplish reconciliation for the sins of others. The angel, as God’s messenger, clearly emphasizes the glorious fact that both these requirements will be fulfilled in the case of Jesus.
Nonval Galfenhuys, Commentary of the Gospel of Luke, p. 77 (1977)