Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Annunciation of Our Lord: A Devotional Commentary

Luke 1:26-38 Now, in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a a town of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. Coming to her, the angel said, “Rejoice, favored woman! The Lord is with you! Blessed are you among women!" But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying and considered what kind of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you are going to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will call his name ‘Jesus.’ This son will be great and fully Son of the Most high will he be called. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father, David, and he will be King over the house of Jacob forever. And of his Kingdom there shall be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I do not know a man?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore, the holy one being born will be called the Son of God. Behold, your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age and this is the sixth month of her pregnancy for her who was called barren. For nothing said by God is impossible.” Mary said, “Behold, the slave of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your saying.” And the angel departed from her.

The humble virgin Mary is the instrument through which God chose to bring about all of the promises of the Old Testament. She is the one who is given a calling that was never given to any man or any other woman. She is given the gift of the Messiah to nurture and protect. Just as the burning bush was filled with fire but was not consumed, the virgin Mary would be filled with the infinite God but miraculously was not consumed. Just as the Holy Spirit overshadowed the ark of the covenant, the Holy Spirit overshadowed the blessed virgin Mary. In the Old Testament the ark of the covenant was the dwelling place of God. In an even more miraculous way Mary became the dwelling place of God. In the book of Revelation the imagery of Mary and the church are used interchangeably. She is delivered from the dragon. Through the calling that God gave her to be the God-bearer she is both the mother of God's Son and the mother of God's sons.

The conception of Jesus came through the power of God's Word. Mary heard the Word from the angel in her ear and conceived Jesus. In a similar way the Word of God begets faith in the heart of the hearer. The Word of God begets faith in you.

Mary is an example of what faith looks like. Mary had every reason to be afraid. Who would believe her? Would you believe someone who claimed that God got them pregnant? If you were betrothed to someone who claimed that God got them pregnant would you want to marry her? But Mary responds with the words of faith. "Behold the slave of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your saying." She has every reason to doubt and to worry. If something like this happened to you, you might think that God hated you. Why would he put you through this misery? But even though Mary did not understand God's plan, she trusted His Word. Mary received the greatest blessing given to any human being through what looked like a curse by most standards.

But ultimately regardless of how much can be learned about what it means to live a life of faith from the example of Mary, this isn't all about her. Ultimately, this is all about Jesus. Mary is only who and what she is because of the grace of God. Mary would not be honored as the mother of God if God was not in her womb. The incarnate God is the real miracle that Mary was blessed to receive. He came to establish an everlasting kingdom but the kingdom would not look like anything anyone expected it to look like. And it is an everlasting kingdom. His coronation would take place with a crown of thorns pushed into His bloody head and He would reign by being lifted upon upon a cross. Mary called herself the slave of God. But the God-man Jesus came as your slave. As your slave he bore the sins that were yours to pay for. He paid for all of them.

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