Summary: Mary’s call to carry the Christ was a costly one, are you willing to carry the Christ?
Luke 1:26-38 Second Sunday of Advent 2006
A Costly Call
You may know the story: Jesus is sitting down in the temple courts teaching his disciples about the kingdom of God, when a riotous group of men start coming towards him. They are angry, shouting names that would be obscenities in most contexts, some are shaking their fists; a few have rocks in their hands. As the get closer you see the object of their vitriol – they are dragging a woman with them. She is only half dressed, holding onto her bed clothes as best she can while they drag her. Her face is dirty, streaming with tears, her eyes are full of fear, and she is pleading through the tears for them to let her go. They reach Jesus and throw the woman at his feet
“Teacher,” they say, “this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. The ancient law orders us to stone such a woman, what do you say we should do?”
Jesus doesn’t speak in their time, but in his own. He bends down and writes in the sand with his finger, they kept badgering him, and a few more people picked up stones, So Jesus speaks, and he says, “the one who is pure, the one who has no sin, you can start; you throw the first stone.” And then he went back to writing in the sand.
When the crowd heard this, they suddenly became quiet, a few stones dropped out of hands, and the men stated to leave, first the older ones and then the younger ones, until Jesus was left completely alone with the woman.
Jesus looked up from his writing and said to the woman, “where are they? Does no one condemn you?”
She wipes her dirty face and says, “No one, master.”
Jesus says, “then neither do I. Go on your way now, and stop sinning.”
I can’t help but wonder if Jesus wasn’t thinking of the fate that could have befallen his own mother 30 years previous as he spoke to the crowd and then this woman. Mary was found to be pregnant before she had been with her husband. The only plausible explanation was adultery. The punishment for adultery was death by stoning.
But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
The Gospel tells how God sent the great angel Gabriel to this young woman Mary. Angels are terrifying beings – you can tell because every time the show up they have to tell the people to not be afraid. He greets Mary with those now famous words “Hail Mary, full of Grace.” “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”
Mary is shocked that an angel has come to her, but she is also confused by his words. No one had ever said anything like this before – sure they had said nice things, loving things, and they had said horribly mean things. But to call her highly favoured, to say that the Lord is with here – these were words reserved for a queen or a high priest. She is just a teenager – not favoured by anyone.
Then Gabriel continues – you will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus. 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.”
Mary may have been shocked that the words were coming out of her mouth, but she asks, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
Gabriel is much more gentle with Mary than he is with Zechariah – he struck Zechariah dumb for asking questions! And he Tells Mary that it will be a miracle – God would make a baby without the involvement of a man. To assure her that God can do such things he tells her that Her cousin Elizabeth was already 6 months pregnant in her old age! Because with God, everything is possible.
Mary’s response to the angel is amazing, she says “I am the Lord’s servant, May it be to me according to your word.”
I am amazed at her response because of the risk that it put her in – she was in great danger of being dragged into the street and stoned for adultery, she could be shunned by her family, divorced by Joseph, and left destitute.
The Nativity Story movie portrays the cost of carrying the Son of God very well.
We know the end of the story – we know that angel comes to Joseph as well and he takes Mary to be his wife. We know that Mary is not stoned to death, we know that everything works out for about 30 years. But Mary didn’t know that when she agreed to carry Christ. She knew the impossibility, she knew the danger, and she knew the God who was asking her to give up her safety, her plans, and her comfort, all for the sake of bringing the Son of God into the world. And she said yes.