Ask God to orient or reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.
“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.”
Thinking back to yesterday’s scripture, notice some contrast in the two passages. The announcement of John the Baptist, the one who would point to the Messiah, takes place in the cultural center of Israel, the temple. This story takes place in a small, obscure village to the north. Notice also that the simple faith of a teenage girl is contrasted with the genuine, but less profound faith of an old priest, Zechariah.
Nazareth was a small, obscure village that no one would expect anything as amazing as this to come from. There is nothing noteworthy about Mary coming from Nazareth; if anything, it points to her humble roots.
Mary was a virgin, indicating that she had not had sexual relations with a man, who was betrothed to be married to Joseph sometime in the next year. The betrothal was made up of two steps: a formal engagement followed a year later with a wedding. During this time, young ladies who were betrothed were usually between the ages of twelve and fourteen.
The angel appeared a second time and revealed, in God’s sovereign action, that she would be highly favored. She was initially fearful at the appearance of the angel, but her fears were calmed when the angel explained his reason for the visit.
She, of all people, would conceive and give birth to a son…“She is to name Him Jesus. He would be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. He will be given the throne of His father David, and He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; His kingdom will never end.”
This is really quite remarkable! Think about it: In a society where rank and status mattered, she came from the humblest of circumstances. She is a woman, to top it off a teenager not yet married, and she has no status. Yet the angel appeared and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary’s question of “How will this be?” should not be seen as doubt, but more wonder. How could she bear children when she had never had relations with a man?
It is important to understand that Mary was honored by God, not because of her own merit or anything she had done, but she was simply a chosen vessel for this demonstration of God’s grace. God can and will perform His Word; His promises can be trusted. Nothing is impossible with God.
Darrell Bock sums this passage up well. He says that Mary reflects a person whom God unexpectedly chooses to use. She is an individual that has no outstanding credentials; she brings nothing on her resume. She simply brings her availability and willingness to serve. Those characteristics are the most basic ones anyone can offer to God.
She says “yes” to God’s plan which takes her through a process for which she has no training or preparation. God simply promised to be with her on the journey. She said to Him, “I’m willing to go on the ride.” You see, with God’s grace, Mary knows that she can do this.
We can be encouraged as we look to Mary’s example for us. She was willing; she said “Yes, now what do you want me to do.” Think about all that her “yes” entailed… She would experience being shunned because she’s pregnant and not married, no doubt she would become the topic of much gossip.
In Mary, we see that spiritual greatness is not a matter of social status, the amount of money we have, or the position we occupy. It’s not found in the amount of education we have; the degree hanging on a wall means nothing to God. You see, spiritual greatness in God’s eyes is a function of the heart.
God’s greatness is seen in His willingness to use anyone who is willing to be used by Him. He looks for the ones like Mary; the ones willing to say “yes” and trust Him to lead.
How about you? Are you willing to follow? Are you willing to say “Use me as you will LORD. I won’t say ‘No’ because I feel unqualified or unusable.”
(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)
Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today. KEEP PRAYING THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY.