Summary: We have all heard it said: “Ignorance is bliss.” If that were true, I should be experiencing a lot more bliss in my life than I am, Amen? When it comes to Mary, the mother of Jesus, however, I wouldn’t say that ignorance is bliss but I would say that innocence is
We have all heard it said: “Ignorance is bliss.” If that were true, I should be experiencing a lot more bliss in my life than I am, Amen? When it comes to Mary, the mother of Jesus, however, I wouldn’t say that ignorance is bliss but I would say that innocence is. Over the many, many centuries the question of why God chose a young, naive woman from the outskirts of Nowhere to be the mother of His child … the means by which He would enter into time and space … through whom He would take on flesh and become fully human … has been debated ad infinitum … and I don’t have the answer …. Only God knows. But I have a thought … an idea. I believe that part of the reason was her innocence.
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee to deliver a message to a woman named “Mary” who was a virgin engaged to be married. I don’t know about you, but I’d find a visit from one of God’s archangels to quite unsettling … well, actually, terrifying. “Greetings, Favored One! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Needless to say, Luke reports that Mary was “perplexed” by Gabriel’s greeting … to put it mildly, I would think (v. 29). “Do not be afraid, Mary” (v. 30a). Yeah … too late! Even scarier would be the fact that Gabriel knows my name.
Again, Gabriel says, “You have found favor with God. That must be very important for her to understand if Gabriel repeats it twice. And her reward for having “found favor with God?” (v. 30). The favor that God is about to ask Mary to do is … give birth to His Son! “And now,” says God’s messenger, “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name Him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His ancestor David. He will reign over the House of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end” (Luke 1:31-32).
Say what? Can you run that by me again? That’s quite a chunk of information to take in and digest. I mean … to begin with … I’m a virgin … engaged to be married. How is that going to happen without me breaking my pre-nuptial vows? “Not by any worldly way, I can assure you,” says Gabriel “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 holy; He will be called Son of God” ( Luke 1:35).
By now I would have either fainted or started beating the bushes, telling whoever it is to come out … the joke’s up. More likely, I would have started crying and asking “why me?” and begging Gabriel to find somebody else. “You sure you’ve got the right woman, Gabriel … there’s another ‘Mary’ living a couple of blocks over on Jehovah Street … very pious, very religious … maybe you’re looking for her?”
Gabriel tells her about how God answered her cousin Elizabeth’s prayers and gave her a son in her late years. And Mary’s faith … Mary’s belief … Mary’s trust in God … gave her the courage to say: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (v. 38).
Ignorance or innocence? So many times, I don’t think we know what we’re signing up for when we answer God’s call. When Jesus called the disciples to follow Him, we know that visions of success, notoriety, power, kingdoms, crowns, and thrones danced in their heads. But that’s not what happened, is it? If they knew what was going to happen to them, would they have signed on? When Jesus told them what was going to happen to them, they said they were onboard with it … until things started to heat up and then they headed for the hills.
Ignorance or innocence? So many times I don’t think we know what we’re getting in to or giving up when we answer God’s call … and I believe that it’s a good thing … a necessary thing … because the only thing that we have to step out on … the only thing that we have to base our “yes” on is what Mary had to base her “yes on ... her absolute trust in the One who calls us. “Here am I, the servant of the Lord, let be with me according to Your word” (v. 38). “For nothing is impossible with God” (v. 37), remember?
Let’s contrast her reaction with another “servant of the Lord” … Zechariah … who belonged to the priestly order of Abijah. “Once when he was serving as priest before God and his section was on duty he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and offer incense” (v. 8-9). While he was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared. “When Zechariah saw him, he was terrified, and fear overwhelmed him. But the angel said to him, ‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth’” (Luke 1:12-14). Zechariah said to the angel, “’How will I know this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years.’ Am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.’” At this point, Zechariah’s response should have been like Mary’s: “Here am I, the servant to the Lord; let it be with me according to Your word” (v. 38). But he didn’t. “But now,” says Gabriel, “because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time, you will become mute, unable to speak until the day these things occur” (v. 20; italics mine).