Favored

OK–so here’s the deal. For the next few days, I want to focus on Christmas. We’re all thinking about it anyway. So I hope to inspire you just a little to make sure you meet Jesus in this Christmas season.

Here goes!

Why did God choose Mary? The answer is found in the New Testament book of Luke, chapter 1.

First, Mary was favored. And coming in, the angel said to her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you,” Luke 1:28.  The Greek word for “favored one” is the word charis. At its root, it means grace…the idea of an undeserved favor or kindness extended to someone without them earning it. This was happening because God chose to be good to Mary (and all of us), not because she reached some level of spirituality never attained before. God was simply showing favor to Mary.

I’m guessing it didn’t feel much like a favor at first. Imagine the quandary she was in—pregnant outside of marriage in a culture where this is punishable by stoning. Think of how perceptions of Mary changed when it was no-longer possible to hide the bulging tummy. What cruel assaults on her character were thrust unjustly at this one chosen by God? Still, the angel calls her the “favored one” because there is no greater honor than to be chosen by God to serve…no greater service than to bear the very child of God in the womb. Though life would be hard and the days ahead tentative, what incredible meaning Mary’s life would hold because God chose her for this once-ever task.

Second, Mary was a bondslave by her own confession. “And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word,” Luke 1:38). This word in the original text is the word doule meaning a female slave. The King James Version translates this word “handmaid”. Mary was ready to do whatever Almighty God asked her to do. She did not see her life as her own. Because she realized that God owned her, she lived that way every day. She was willing to do what very few women were available to do. This Mary was ready to take abuse, be misunderstood, suffer hardship, accept a completely different course in life, to bear deity in the womb, and parent Immanuel (God among us)! And this decision was made in a brief encounter with an angel sent from Heaven! How could she do this? She was able because this was her modus operandi all the time. She always lived as a slave, recognizing that her life could be lived for a higher purpose and a greater call than she could ever imagine on her own.

Please notice something else. Mary had no idea how all of this would happen or turn out. She didn’t know if Joseph would reject her, if the community would stone her, what deity in the womb would feel like, or how she would raise and provide for this child. She only knew that God wanted her to do this…and He would guide her one step at a time.

We often want to know every detail, the cost required, the changes that will follow, and the end result of following before we ever take a first step. But almost always, God invites us to a journey without showing us many of the details. He just says, “Come”. He calls us to a journey of trusting Him every step of the way. Around each corner, beyond every hill, through every valley He calls us to take the next step—to follow through on the next leg of this faith experience.

As we celebrate God becoming man, Jehovah again invites us to come. Come to the manger and see Jesus. He came all the way from glory to enter a simple unassuming place so that all can come. But don’t kid yourself…it is a journey of faith, You see, once you gaze into the manger and see the face of Jesus, you will never be the same—not if you really see Him. We don’t know how we will be changed, nor what will be required as a result of this encounter. Still, God calls us to come.

3 thoughts on “Favored”

  1. Jon–I also find it very easy to slip into a fictional faith of sorts. Real faith involves risk, danger, and trust in God alone. I found that I claimed faith in God for my finances for many years while in reality I was trusting in plastic a lot more. When things got tight or I wanted or needed something I didn’t have the money for, I didn’t wait for God’s providence. I depended on plastic. My lack of raw ground-level faith in this area of my life affects me and my family significantly still today. It was a great lesson of faith–or the lack of it–for me.

  2. PI, thanks for the perspective on this. Most of the time we tend to romanticize the Christmas story to the point that we forget the agonizing Mary & Joseph must have gone through trying to figure all this out. The drama at church a few weeks ago & your words here remind me that there are times when all seems bleak & I cannot see the end or understand why God seems absent from my troubles. It is through these times our faith becomes exposed & becomes real as we cry out to God & fall at His knees in complete dependence on Him. A recent series of events in my life woke me up to how “in theory” my faith had become. It boils down to a control thing for me. As you stated I want to know all the details & be able to see the end & I realized that is not faith. I praise God today for his long suffering & patience towards me.

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