Mary, did you know?
It’s a great song…but also an interesting question.
As I think about Mary, my heart is stirred. We only have a glimpse into her heart, mind, and life, and the rest is, well, unknown.
“God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” – Luke 1:26-28
How did she feel about her arranged marriage? What did her heart long for? What was she doing the moment Gabriel came to her? I imagine she was in the middle of chores; fetching water, cooking, or cleaning perhaps. Maybe she was daydreaming about her upcoming marriage, or meditating on her favorite psalm.
He calls her favored, but did she know that? Did she feel or believe that she was favored by God – set apart? I imagine that she was a young woman of purity — in heart, mind, and spirit. She knew the Lord, and he knew her. She was obedient and faithful, but this was a real moment, and Mary was a real girl….
“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.” Luke 1:29
I love that we are privy to this reaction! When the Lord calls us favored we often don’t see it. We are not judged by our initial reaction, the Lord gives us so much grace to process in our humanness. She was confused and disturbed, not by the angel’s message (he hadn’t told her the big news yet!), but by the label, favored.
She wasn’t favored by the world’s standards. She was a poor servant girl who didn’t have much going for her, accept the thing that really mattered – her heart was pure.
“Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” – Luke 1:30-33
In this moment, the angel reveals to her that the her baby will be the King! But did she know more than that? Was she able to process the full extent of what he said? Like most of us would, she had a hard time getting past the reality of her perspective and current life situation…
Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” – Luke 1:34
No matter how big our faith, or our love for the Lord, we can’t help but assess our situation from our own perspective. We want to believe but often we cry, BUT HOW, GOD!?
The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. For the word of God will never fail.” – Luke 1:35-37
God is so faithful to meet us where we are and provide for our every need. Mary wasn’t punished for her questioning – he answered her. The Lord even provided her with someone to link arms with – someone who was also in a miraculous situation. He thought of everything. He is so faithful.
“Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” – Luke 1:28
There it is again – a pure and faithful young woman. Trusting, obedient, and even though she probably didn’t completely understand, Mary was going to walk forward through the fear.
And there was plenty to be frightened of!
“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.
He shows mercy from generation to generation
to all who fear him.
His mighty arm has done tremendous things!
He has scattered the proud and haughty ones.
He has brought down princes from their thrones
and exalted the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
He has helped his servant Israel
and remembered to be merciful.
For he made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his children forever.” – Luke 1:46-55
Mary was not perfect, but she was chosen to carry the perfect one. We will never know all she knew and when, but we can learn from her story.
Like Mary, we are chosen to carry the perfect one. All it takes is a willingness to believe and receive him into our hearts.
We can trust that God is doing things in our lives far beyond our capacity to understand and all it takes is a, “Yes, Lord.”
And finally, we need to hold loosely the gifts the Lord gives us. Mary was given Jesus, but only to give him away. The gifts we receive from the Lord aren’t just for us. They are for us to bring him glory by giving them away to others.
Today, my prayer is one of gratitude. Like Mary, I rejoice that the Lord has taken notice of me, and you, and given us the gift of Jesus.
And in case you haven’t been told lately, you are favored by God!
Joy Bringer’s Advent