This series began with Mary’s Story, a first-person narrative of how I imagine Mary might tell her story to us in the 21st century. We continued the series in Favored One: Mary’s Story Part II, exploring what it means to be favored by God, and how that calling isn’t easy. Today, we are finishing the story with Mary’s response to this high calling, and Gabriel’s encouraging final message. Let’s dive right in to God’s Word found in Luke 1:35-38:
35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
What were Mary’s words? “I am the Lord’s servant.” When God calls you to an incredible task, which scares the daylights out of you, what is your response? Do you ignore it and brush it off? Or do you chase after it in outrageous dedication, until you have fulfilled the task to which you were called? When God asks you to even mention that you are a Christian, do you? What if He asked you to pray out loud for someone at school or work, right then and there? What if he asked you to say “no” to something your friends are all participating in, like drinking, smoking, sex… What will your answer be?
Mary was righteous – not because that’s how they were saved, but obeying God’s laws proved their love for God. I want to challenge you to ask yourself, do you love God enough to suffer as a social outcast or a Jesus freak if that’s what He asks you to do? What will your answer be when God calls upon you as his favored one?
One of the most incredible things to me is found in Gabriel’s response to Mary’s confusion and fear. So even as Mary is wondering what mission God might have for her that has put her in the line of men like Noah, Joseph, and Moses, Gabriel tells her that she will bring forth the Messiah. She will become the mother who births the Savior of creation, and the rightful King of the world. Could anyone be more favored than she? What an incredible gift, worth any suffering it will bring.
But in the midst of this revelation with incredible, eternal consequences, God still saw the stress, anxiety, and fear, that Mary would face and even universal redemption could not eclipse the personal trouble she would take upon herself at God’s behest. He saw her and cared for her personal trouble, even as he was planning salvation for the world. Gabriel’s last words to Mary are ones of shelter. He gives her a place to run for refuge, for confirmation, and for encouragement. He tells her of the miracles God has already worked in planning for this climax of history, and lets her know that God still sees her specifically.
No matter how big God’s plans for the universe get, no matter what universal work he is achieving at any given moment, he sees each of you – each of us – specifically, intimately, and constantly is working to give you a place of refuge and shelter. Even if it is only for a moment of relief to remind you of God’s love and presence. He does not forget about your or your needs, but in the midst of universal activity, He provides for your every need.
Let’s look at the text, and see what Mary found at her place of refuge in Luke 1:39-56:
39 In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, 40 and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary, she heard Gabriel’s message, and immediately runs to Elizabeth. And through the mouth of Elizabeth, God confirmed every single word of the angel, Gabriel. Mary found herself overwhelmed with God’s faithfulness, not only to her, but to her people.
Mary teaches us what it means to put God’s plan above yours. It reminds us that when faced with incredible, painful, tasks from God, we have two choices: we can choose to be God’s faithful servant, or not. And though the task may lead to suffering, that in itself brings forth incredible opportunity for growth in personal character, and in relationship with God. When we agree to being God’s servant, he doesn’t leave us to deal with the fallout alone: he leads us to places of refuge, encouragement, and confirmation. Lastly, the blessing from God will always – not necessarily immediately – but will always outweigh the suffering.
So the next time God looks upon you with favor and asks you to be part of his plan for salvation and redemption of his creation, what will your answer be?