‘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” (Luke 1:30, 31).
‘Favored by God’ was the predominant theme around which Gabriel the angel, builds the message of the Virgin conception for Mary. To a befuddled Mary, the reassuring angel reiterates that she was unusually favored by God and hence the privilege of being chosen the earthly mother of Jesus, the Lord of all creation. What does it mean to be favored by God?
First, it is a reflection of the sovereignty of God. Why was Mary chosen? Why did Jesus choose to declare himself to the world in such a fashion through the Virgin birth? In God, time and again we see One who does unusual things that man cannot logically deduce or at times cannot justify with his sense of justice. To say God is sovereign is to state that he works as He pleases and we recognize that sovereignty is undeniably a derivative of his divinity. Man cannot question God because in doing so, he uses his logic and mind, which are God-given. He cannot term God as unfair because justice is derived from God’s character. He cannot walk away from sovereignty because there is only so much man can grasp with his finite mind as he tries to comprehend the workings of an infinite God. So while we may grieve at a loss or be shocked by tragedy around us but it would be insane to come away with a conclusion that God is to be blamed. He is sovereign and knows and controls all things. And it is the sovereignty of God in action when a person is chosen to be part of God’s kingdom and bear his witness. It was God’s sovereignty when the angel declared Mary as the chosen vessel for the Messiah.
Next, we see the initiative of God. God constantly comes across to us from the history outlined in the Bible as a God who takes the initiative- to love, to save, to deliver and to heal. Here we see the angel taking the initiative to educate and reassure Mary with the prophecy about Jesus’ birth. God goes to on perform the miracle of the Virgin conception in Mary and reassure Joseph so that he would not put Mary away. The Lord takes the lead in making good his promise to Mary, accomplishing what he set out to do. And in setting forth, the seeds for Jesus’ birth, he takes the greatest initiative this world has seen from God- to deliver man and rescue him from darkness and bring him to life and light. God promises to finish what he started to do and accomplish what he set his mind to do. The universe has been ordered in such a way that fullness arrives when man responds to God’s initiative.
And that brings us to the final piece of being favored by God- responding to it as Mary did. Mary’s words, “May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38) is a reflection of the humble submission of a willing servant to the will of God. It was an honor for Mary to be chosen the mother of Jesus, but also a matter of great concern with the potential of being labeled a loose woman, being shamed by society and being deserted by Joseph. Yet, she submits to God and in doing so brings to fulfillment the favor of God bestowed upon her. Her song recorded in Luke 1 is one of worship and satisfaction, of a life that has found fulfillment in being favored by God and accomplishing his purposes. Can we recognize the favor of God upon us as disciples of Christ and humbly submit as Mary did? It is then that life truly begins!
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