Devotion – December 5 – “Here I am, Your Servant”
On Wednesday we began our look at the first two chapters of Luke. In these chapters, Luke tells us about the events leading up to the birth of Jesus, and his arrival on earth on that first Christmas. Luke opens by foretelling the coming of the great forerunner to the Messiah – which was John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth.
Luke follows this up with a second foretelling story – This time the angel visits a young girl of Nazareth, named Mary. Let’s listen in as the angel explains to Mary her part in the unfolding plan of God’s redemption of us all.
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. 36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
We are told right away that this event is all orchestrated by God: “The angel Gabriel was sent by God.” Like I mentioned in Wednesday’s devotion, so often we look at events in our lives as random happenings, but maybe we should reconsider the “randomness” of the events and take the time to see if maybe God is involved at putting us in a particular place or position. Maybe we have been put there for a reason.
Gabriel is sent to a young woman named Mary. Any speculation of her age is just that, speculation. We surmise that she was young – in her teens or at most early twenties. She is out and about town, doing her daily business. The picture we have is ordinary young woman, living out her ordinary life, in an ordinary town. But that all changes when she encounters a man (she doesn’t know yet that the person she meets is actually an angel). The man gives her a rather odd greeting, “Hello. I know the Lord is with you in a special way and will richly bless you.” If the greeting was meant to stop her in her tracks, it works!
The greeting does frighten her though (did she already have some sense that maybe this “man” was not an ordinary person?). Like with Zechariah, this fear must have shown on her face, for the angel immediately tells Mary not to be afraid: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (v.30).
The angel then shares with her “the plan.” She will conceive in her womb and bear a son. She is to name the child, Jesus.” The angel goes on to tell her that this child will be great for two reasons: The child is God’s Son, and this Son is also the Messiah, the Savior of the world.”
How couldn’t this overwhelm Mary and fill her with a thousand different questions? But the only one we are privy to is the practical question: “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” Eugene Peterson translates her question this way: “But how? I’ve never slept with a man.”
Peterson’s translations help us answer a question that has been asked for centuries: Why was Zechariah struck mute because he questioned the possibility of God’s plan, and Mary wasn’t? The answer lies in the fact that Zechariah didn’t believe it could happen, while Mary was wondering how it could happen.
The angel tells Mary how it will happen: God, through the Spirit will make her pregnant. This happening will be ALL by the hand of God.
I think it is safe to say that by now Mary is not only confused, but overwhelmed at what is being said. She had to be thinking that maybe this person isn’t from God, but is delusional. So, to help her in her humanness, Gabriel points out a concrete event whereby she can see that “Nothing will be impossible with God,” and tells her that her relative Elizabeth – good “old” Elizabeth – is pregnant too.
Soon after this encounter, Mary will leave and go visit Elizabeth, because she wants to see if what she has been told is true … spoiler alert … it is!
Mary’s faith shines though, even before she does get any verification of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Something deep within her, let her know that what is being said, is going to come true. This faith proves large enough to embrace this enormous call and she replies, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
Now that’s faith! Mary had to have known that this call was going to change her life and future forever, yet she was more than willing to accept it because by faith she trusts that if it was God’s plan, it’s a good plan.
The great theologian and pastor C.K. Chesterton once said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” Like Mary we too have received a call from God. It might not be as specific as Mary’s but the Bible does give us great direction on how we are to live – and yes, that call seems difficult: loving our enemies, living for others rather than ourselves, live the more difficult life of the cross, are all calls that we have received, just as surely as Mary received her call. But, more often than not we consider that call too difficult.
Today, let Mary challenge that assumption and instead of ignoring the call, or brushing it away as some utopian dream, how about saying to God, “Here I am, your servant.”
~ God bless, Dan