Introduction: During this year’s Advent season, I am writing a weekly blog post with a story from the Bible, followed by a few thoughts and questions to contemplate / think about during the week. May this be a blessing to you throughout your time leading up to Christmas.
Here is the link to Week 1: Advent 2019 – Week 1
Week 2 Reading: Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
(Luke 1:26-38 NIV)
As we ponder the encounter between Mary and the angel, we see Emmanuel – God with us – at a whole new level. As a young, engaged woman, the angel tells her that she is going to have a baby, and not just any baby – she is going to have the Son of God living inside her.
In her child-like faith, she doesn’t understand how this can be. When the angel explains that it’s an outrageous miracle from God, she humbly submits herself and accepts her assignment, knowing full well that it will not be understood by most everyone, and she will likely be unjustly labeled and condemned for what others don’t understand.
In her humble response to the angel, Mary said, “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Martin Luther, in his writings on this passage, beautifully paraphrases Mary’s words to be, “I am only the workshop in which God operates.”
Some thoughts to ponder this week:
- Mary was asked to do something completely out of character for her, and she chose to submit to the Lord. Has there been a time in your life when God has asked you to do something that was shocking, completely outrageous by the world’s values? Did you submit to His leading? How hard was it to submit? What was the outcome?
- Mary had Christ living in her, both physically and spiritually. As followers of Christ, we have Christ living spiritually in us. Mary endured the shame of being labeled an unwed mother, and she knew the pain would carry over to the child living in her as well. As a carrier of Christ in you, have you endured the pain of association with Christ, of being falsely accused of things that are not true? How have you handled that pain and rejection?
- God’s grace was at work in Mary long before she was given this assignment of carrying Christ in her. Her humble offer to be God’s workshop in which He operates exemplifies God’s grace coupled with Mary’s faith in God’s goodness. Can you and I offer ourselves as God’s workshop in which He operates, and let God form Christ in us?
- The old hymn “O To be Like Thee” captures the essence of letting God make us more like Jesus. Here is the first verse and chorus (emphases mine):
O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer;
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee!
Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
Here is the link to all the verses and the tune if you’re interested: O To Be Like Thee