Wednesday, December 7, 2011

She Was Chosen by God

     Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, has been the focus of books, plays, songs and even controversy as to her role, yet the Bible paints a clear picture of a young woman chosen by God to bear His Son.  She is an example of submission to God and humility that is worth emulating.
     At the tender age of 14 to 16 years, Mary was betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph.  This early engagement period was common by Jewish custom, and the relationship was binding and could only be broken by divorce.  It was at this time that the Angel Gabriel, who had also appeared to Zechariah the priest foretelling John the Baptist's birth, came to announce to Mary her important role in the birth of Jesus.  According to Luke 1:28, we read:  "And he came to her and said 'Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!'"  Literally translated the angel said, "Greetings, Mary full of grace!"  The words used in this verse indicate that Mary received God's grace not that she was the source of grace.  She had been chosen by God and set apart for an important task in her life.  In fact, Mary was troubled by this greeting.
Gabriel went on to tell her that she need not be afraid for she had found favor or grace in God's sight.  Then, he explained to her how she would conceive by the Holy Ghost and bring forth a Son who would be called Jesus or "Yahweh is salvation".  He would be the Son of the Most High which is another title for the long awaited Messiah.
     Imagine how Mary must have felt at this surprising news.  She was being called upon by God to carry His Son.  The fact that she was a virgin made this miraculous, but it also carried with it some concerns.  She was not yet formally married and unmarried women who were found to be with child could be stoned according to the Law.  The Bible does not tell us all that went through her mind that day, however,  the angel did much to allay her concerns by telling her about her cousin Elizabeth who had been barren but was now pregnant with John the Baptist.  Then, Gabriel concluded his remarks with:  "For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).    Her reply points to a heart ready to serve the Lord:  "And Mary said, 'Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'  And the angel departed from her" (vs. 38).
     As I read this account in the Bible, I could not help but stand in awe of how God demonstrates His sovereignty over all the affairs to men.  Here was a young peasant girl that God chose to carry His Son.  He filled her with grace and He was the one that performed the miracle of her conception.  She humbly accepted God's will for her even though she did not have all the details laid out in front of her.  If we read on in Luke, we also see her song of praise to God for all His greatness in "The Magnificat".  She did not focus on herself but focused on the One who had delivered His people from slavery and now was about to fulfill prophecy and deliver His chosen ones from their sins.  There is so much we can learn from her example.
     First, Mary was humble and willing to receive from God's hand that which He had planned for her.  She did not stop and demand to know all the details before giving her ascent.  She recognized, by her obedience, His sovereignty and authority in her life.  How often do we question God and balk at those things which He has called us to do?  We often want all the specifics before we make the first move.  Not Mary.  She did not know the joy and the sorrow that she would endure in her life, but she knew the One true God of Israel.  Her trust was evident.
     Secondly, Mary turned to God and lifted Him up as she sang His praises.  Her song needs to be our song of adoration for the Lord of our salvation.  Too often, I fear that our prayers are humdrum petitions with a sprinkle of praise rather than a focus on God and His holiness.  The Bible tells us that He inhabits the praises of His people and delights in us when we delight in Him.  We were made to glorify Him, and as we lift Him up, He lifts us up as well.  Mary's example should encourage us to begin each quiet time with praise for the Lord who has saved us from our sins.
     Finally, we need to remember it is God who does the choosing not us.  Mary didn't make up her mind to serve God and have baby Jesus.  God chose her.  According to Scripture, we have been chosen before the foundation of the world to be His own and He predestined us to adoption in Christ (Ephesians 1:4-5).  It is all of His grace, His power, His work and not any works of our own that has brought us to salvation.
How great our God is and how wonderful our deliverance!
     Looking into the life of Mary as described in the Bible gives us a glimpse of her character and her willingness to be a servant of the Most High.  Her attitude is one we need to have in relation to our heavenly Father.  When He calls us to service, let us like Mary say:  "Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."  By doing this, we, too, will have an impact on our world and bring glory to God.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights here.  I hope you will leave a comment to encourage others.  Thank you for dropping by.

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