Meditations on Luke
“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 conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him 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 Jacob’s descendants 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 on 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.” Luke 1:29-35, NIV
This meeting between Gabriel and Mary holds similarities to the one which occurred six months prior with Zachariah. Both instances involve the foretelling of an unlikely pregnancy with Gabriel as the messenger. Yet one of the primary differences begins in the greeting itself. Where with Zachariah, Gabriel immediately addressed the priest’s fear, with Mary the angel first issued a blessing. “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:28)
Mary is very troubled by Gabriel’s words. But once more God shows kindness by directly speaking to her uncertainties. “Do not be afraid,” Gabriel assures the virgin. Why not? Because she has found favor with God.
To find favor in the eyes of God is a beautiful gift. As children of God, it is an encouragement to know God can bless us with favor. So often, I feel like I am falling flat on my face and making mistakes. But I am given hope when I see that, like Mary, we can walk uprightly and know the favor of God.
Gabriel goes on to give Mary extraordinary news.
But notice how Mary’s question is slightly different than Zachariah’s. Zachariah’s question is “How can I be sure of this?” (Luke 1:18) Whereas Mary asks, “How can this be since I am a virgin?” These are two very similar questions but if we look closely, we see the heart is different. How?
Mary’s question comes from one simple fact. She was chaste therefore how could she become pregnant. But Zachariah and Elizabeth although unable to conceive, were still able to partake in their marital rights thereby allowing the potential for pregnancy. Plus, as discussed in a previous post, Zachariah surely knew the story of Abraham and Sarah. His question of “How can I be sure?” really meant, “I don’t believe you.”
But with Mary, her response although similar is vastly different. Rather than issuing a statement of disbelief disguised as a question, hers comes from a place of wonderment, amazement, awe, and even confusion. Can we blame her for wondering? Afterall, we all know that in order to conceive, physical intimacy must first occur between a man and a woman.
Once more, we witness the grace and compassion of the Lord when Gabriel addresses this curiosity. The angel did not have to give an answer, but he chose to do so. This impacts me because so often I wonder why something might be happening, particularly during times of uncertainty and turmoil. I cry out to the Lord and ask, “Why is this happening? What is going on.” Yet so many times, no answer falls from the sky. I am left to lean on Proverbs 3:5-6 where I trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding. In other words, it means that I am left without answers but still must trust God with what I do not understand. However, rather than keep Mary wondering, God shows compassion and mercy by giving her an explanation through Gabriel. “The Holy Spirit will come on you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
I must pause here. Is anyone else awed by what Gabriel just said? That the God, who has made all of creation to abide by certain natural laws, can supersede them and overwrite them. Natural law demands that for a woman to become pregnant, certain acts must first transpire. In this physical realm where we reside, this is an “absolute truth.” Yet, because God is God, the very One who created all of creation and the laws which govern it, He is able to work beyond these natural laws thereby allowing a virgin woman to become pregnant.
Such absolute truths do not apply to God because He IS the Absolute of all authorities. These laws which He created, do not contain him, do not apply to Him, and do not govern Him. Why? Because He is the Creator God Himself. Do I hear a hallelujah?
What an awesome truth to which we can cling. During this time of uncertainty and unprecedented “first’s,” we can rest in the knowledge that God is in full and complete control. We can find assurance in the truth that nothing can contain our God. Moreover, during a time when rules seem to infringe upon certain freedoms and liberties, we can find peace knowing that we are in the hands of our God who can overwrite even the natural laws which He created to govern us.
Friends, cast your anxieties, fears, and worries at the feet of God. Our God can move mountains and cast them into the sea. Our God is greater, stronger, and more powerful than any person or thing. Our God is not created by human hands but He is God, and God alone. Praise the Lord and Amen!
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