Summary: This is partone in a series looking at some of the characters in the Christmas narrative and what they can teach us. Mary’s humble response to the Angel of the Lord is a powerful example of a young woman with the heart of a servant.
The Voices of Christmas Part I
Mary – the Voice of Servanthood
Mary may be the most controversial figure in the scriptures because of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church regarding Mary. They teach that she is the co-redemptrix with Christ. They also teach that she was without sin and bodily ascended to heaven just as Jesus did.
These false teachings have created many problems in the Church today. One problem is that when R.C. people are born again and come to realize that these doctrines are false they pull away – often to a fault.
Mary is not to be elevated above what the scriptures say about her. She was just a woman but, as we will see, she was a very special woman.
We know very little about Mary previous to the visitation from the angel Gabriel. We know that she was living in Nazareth and was betrothed to be married to Joseph and they were both descendants of David.
The most important truths about Mary are found in the passage for today.
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 be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name 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 the house of Jacob 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 upon 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 barren is in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God." 38 "I am the Lord’s servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her.
This is quite an amazing encounter. The angels of the Lord were kept quite busy during this time.
Visiting Zechariah, Joseph and Mary.
1. Favored by God –
The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
This is an interesting greeting from the angel because he refers to Mary as highly favored which literally means to be accepted or endued with special honor.
The Lord has endued Mary with special honor for He has chosen her for a most special task.
Note that highly favored speaks of being accepted.
Mary finds herself accepted by God, but it is not because of anything she herself had done – we do not earn such favor with God.
There is only one other time in the New Testament that the same word, here translated highly favored, is used.