Come to the Manger: Bold Faith

Luke 1:26-28, 35-38

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And coming in, he said to her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”

35 “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. 36 “And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 “For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Why did God choose Mary? The answer is found in the verses above…

First, Mary was favored (verse 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, 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 (verse 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.

Take note of 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. 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.

ACTION: What is the number one thing that is holding you back from following after God without reservation? Write it down.

Now—tell God about this…