It has become a family tradition to attend the 11 p.m. Christmas service at Southeast Christian Church. As the words of Luke 1 were scrolling on the jumbotron screen, the words of verse 30 struck me, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” Found favor. Mary, a teenage girl – found favor WITH God.
Sadly, this young lady who is called “highly favored” and told that “the Lord is with you” is avoided by most Protestants, not wanting to appear to enter into the great sin of the Roman Catholic Church. (For a peak at Roman Catholic doctrine related to Mary click here) That aside, she was highly favored, the Lord was with her and she found favor with God.
What an honor! To have in your womb and nurse at your side the One through whom all things were made (John 1:3) – to be given the responsibility of raising God made manifest in the flesh is a remarkable privilege. This reminds us of God’s condescension in becoming one of us. He didn’t come here and live and die and come back to life over the course of three days. He became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14) and was tempted in all points just as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15) – and all this over more than three decades of living among us.
The story does not point us to the one who gave birth to Christ and nursed Him at her side. It points us to the One who left the glories of heaven and became one of us. Mary, as excellent a young lady as she was, STILL needed the righteousness of her Son when she died – just like the rest of us. IF Mary had some extra-special righteousness, our Lord had an excellent opportunity to address it. Remember what happened in Luke 11:27, “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” What was His reply? You’re right! What a great mother I had – why I learned everything from her! No He says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God AND obey it.” The one who is blessed is not the one who bore Christ, it is the one who hears God’s word and obeys it.
My friend, in the coming year may we be those who hear and obey the word of God. By the grace of God, in doing so, the Lord will be with us and we will find favor with Him.