by Heather Bock
Imagine an angel approaching you with the words, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Lk. 1:28) and to follow with, “you have found favor with God” (Lk. 1:30). Yes, it might be more shocking that an angel is speaking to you in the first place. I also know these words spoken to Mary pale against the brightness of other words promising she would give birth to the Son of God, the Messiah her people had been expecting for at least 700 years.
All that put aside, think about just the words that Mary was favored, and that the Lord was with her. Would you not love to hear these words? Favored by God–that alone is a huge honor.
As I listened to Mary’s story in church a few Sundays ago as I have many Decembers, this year I noticed those words in particular. These are the words I want to hear spoken over me: “You have found favor with God.”
What was it about Mary that was pleasing to God? We don’t know very much about her, but we can glean a few character traits from the stories given us.
- Mary was humble. After the angel Gabriel greeted her with such a high compliment, her response was not pleased acknowledgment. It was surprise. She was perplexed–a great word my NASB uses–and wondering what Gabriel meant. God is pleased with humility. In His world, when you, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord… He will exalt you” (Jas. 4:10).
- Mary was submissively willing. She was afraid of what Gabriel had to say, but she had no defiance about it. Her question, “How can this be?” (Lk. 1:34) had no hint of contradiction. We know this from Gabriel’s gentle response. If you remember, Zacharias asked a similar question when the same angel told him his aged wife was expecting a baby, and he was punished for his impudence–couldn’t talk until he submitted by giving his baby the name the angel ordained (Lk. 1). Mary’s submission came out of her obvious deep trust in God. She not only believed He would do what He said He would do, but she trusted Him so much, she was willing for Him to do what He said He would do, even if it meant losing her betrothed and enduring condemnation and even punishment from her family, friends, and neighbors. All she said was, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38).
- Mary was worshipful. After Gabriel left, instead of laughing at him, like an ancient relative of hers did when she was given the promise of an unexpected miraculous baby (Gen. 18:12), Mary rejoiced in her God. She had gone to see her cousin Elizabeth, the wife of the Zacharias I just mentioned, and Mary praised God there, talking about His holiness, mercy, and generosity.
Yes, even at a young age, Mary had character traits God loves, character traits I hope will mark me more and more as I walk with Him. The Lord was definitely with her.
I was thinking, though, that as Mary later thought about Gabriel’s words, she may have remembered him saying the Lord was with her. I wonder if she connected these words with a prophecy I think she would have known well: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). Immanuel means God with us. She would know that once this baby was born, God wouldn’t just be with her, but with all her people. In fact, the prophecy foretold she would know this fact. What she may not have known is that He would not only be with her people, but with all who receive Him. The Lord, indeed, is with us, too, just as Jesus said, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20).
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
There it is, in verse 6: “He freely bestowed.” The word Gabriel used when he said Mary had found favor is used a lot more often: charis, a word all tied up with our English word grace.
We may not have all the favored character traits of Mary yet, though I hope we are all trying to obtain them through the help of the Holy Spirit, but through Mary’s Son (really God’s Son, of course), we are freely given the grace of favor anyway. If we are His, we can say along with Mary, “I have found favor with God.”
Journal the Word NKJV Bible Giveaway Winner
The winner of the giveaway I started last Wednesday for the Journal the Word Bible is Sarai Mutheu. Congratulations! Please contact me with your address within a week, so I can send it out to you as soon as possible. If I don’t hear from you in a week, I’ll do a new drawing.
DISCLOSURE (IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FTC’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”): MANY THANKS TO THE BLOGABOUT NETWORK FOR GIVING ME TWO COPIES OF JOURNAL THE WORD BIBLE IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST OPINION.