The fulfilment of God’s word but not as we would plan it.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Writing today’s Grow Daily, I am sitting on a bench beside the Brisbane River. I hear the sounds of planes overhead, catamarans on the river and I see cars criss-crossing the iconic Story Bridge. I hear and see the sounds that I am accustomed to within this modern world. I do not sit expecting to see or hear an angel anytime soon.
Over 2,000 years ago Mary was caught up in her own world view, was she any more prepared for an angel visitation?
We don’t know much about Mary from the Bible although since the time of this visitation a lot has been added to her story no doubt. In the biblical text however we don’t know much other than that she was a virgin who was pledged to be married to a man who was from the line of David. She was not yet married, so in her society she would have had minimal resources or security in her unmarried position. It comes as no surprise that she was ‘troubled’ when she received the angel’s message. It was a great shock to her. Yet it was not a shock to God. This visit had been planned. God sent (vs 26).
God’s plans may often not make sense in terms of human understanding and insight. I often think how God could have softened the road a bit for Mary. For example, had he told Joseph the plan first and got him on-side to be protective and supportive of Mary, it would have made her path a lot easier and less dangerous and uncertain. But God chose not to make it easier. The same can be true for us. God gives us instructions through his Word but he does not always smooth our pathways, clear the hurdles set before us. He asks that we be faithful despite what may seem like impossible circumstances.
Sometimes being a follower of Christ and obeying his commands seems rough and unpleasant. Being a pregnant unmarried woman 2,000 years ago was no less pleasant or easy. However Mary’s response to God’s request was ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled’. When we clearly hear the Lord’s call I hope and pray that we will respond like Mary in servant-heartedness, obedience and confidence that the word of the Lord will be fulfilled.
Head: Verse 37 states ‘For no word from God will ever fail.’ Ponder this today.
Heart: Do you believe that the Word of God will never fail?
Hands: Is there something that God is calling you to be faithful to or for him? Will you respond like Mary to God’s clear plan and purpose in your life?
Prayer: Lord God, thank you for Mary’s faithfulness to your command. Thank you for the prophesied, planned and predicted birth of Jesus Christ – without whom I would have no anchor in this life. Help me to anchor my hope in you despite the times when following Christ seems dangerous and confusing. AMEN.
A song to listen to: Your Words