In a moment, Mary learned from her visitor (the angel) how her life, and ours, would be changed forever. As we prepare our hearts for Jesus’ coming, both his birth and return, this passage will always be pivotal and precious.
Imagine a young bride-to-be caught up in the excitement of planning a wedding and starting a new life with the man of her dreams. Now in Mary’s time and culture, it’s not necessarily a given that she would be head over heels in love with her husband to be. But in my imagination of the scene, she was feeling a bit giddy for the big day. This visit from the angel would have been quite a game changer, leaving Mary with so much to ponder.
I also marvel at the honor and privilege to “have found favor with God” and be selected as the mother of God’s son. If I have a hard time wrapping my head around that, imagine Mary’s amazement and how overcome she would be! What else was Mary feeling besides the fears and doubts we read about in this passage?
If she had any doubts about what angel Gabriel was telling her, she could soon confirm the fact her cousin Elizabeth was indeed pregnant. You’ll recall one of our earlier Advent readings was about Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah’s predicament of not being able to speak until his son, John, was born. At the six-month point, Elizabeth would have probably been sharing with everyone she knew that she was finally with child!
Mary’s visitor also gave her the child’s name. “You will name him Jesus.” What a perfectly chosen name, as it means “God saves.” This name of Jesus will become the name we call on when we need our Savior’s power, when we praise him, when we come in prayerful surrender. Philippians 2:10 says, “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth…” – how powerful! Is that how you respond?
While some Greek manuscripts read, “For nothing is impossible with God,” our translation follows earlier and better attested manuscripts which read, “For the word of God will never fail.” Either way, these are powerful statements that speak to God’s authority. It is certainly the authority I trust. In a world full of leaders and public figures screaming for our attention, attempting to distract us from the “main thing,” these words can give us hope.
In our Advent preparations, it will do us good at this point, so close to Christmas, to look to Mary’s response. “I am the Lord’s servant.” She is ready to accept what her visitor has shared with her and let God lead the way. How do we want to respond to the Christmas story and the promise Jesus made to never leave us and return for us one day?
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for sending Jesus to the world. Give me a heart like Mary to accept your plans for me when they take me a direction different than I was planning. Wash away any fears or doubts in my mind as I look forward to each new day on this journey of faith you have placed me on. I look forward to that day when you return in power and glory. Keep me steadfast as I wait. In Jesus’ name. Amen.