Friday, December 19, 2008

The journey to the birth: Mary

The angel laid the issue out directly before Mary: "Nothing is impossible with God."

The scene ripples with amazing words. Gabriel had appeared to Mary, who was a virgin, and promised that God will give her a son. Not only that, but "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 the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end." (Luke 1:32-33)

Mary's response was different from Zechariah's. Zechariah could do nothing to bring about a son. He'd been down that road for years. There were no more plans left.

However, there was something Mary could do to bear a son. She could have ended her virginity. Her words to Gabriel indicate she would not. "How can this be for I am a virgin?" she asked. She wasn't going to do anything to help God but wait on him.

And Gabriel assured her that God would do the work through his Spirit. We talked yesterday about God's use of barren women and, when Gabriel told Mary that Elizabeth was now six months pregnant, Mary would understand.

Gabriel did something else interesting. In proclaiming "nothing is impossible with God," he quoted from Genesis 18:14, from the encounter between the Lord and Sarah, Abraham's wife. She was barren and too old for child-bearing. When told she'd bear a son in a year, she laughed. So the Lord said to Abraham, "nothing is impossible is God."

Mary would have recognized that quote. Every Jewish child would. Her reaction contrasted with Sarah's. Hearing an impossible announcement, Mary did not respond with doubt, or even plans for action, but simple submission.

“Consider me the Lord’s slave,” said Mary.
“May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Tomorrow: Elizabeth's favor

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