Favored to Bear the Christ

“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to… Nazareth,  to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. He came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 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 father David, and he will reign… forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’

“And Mary said, ‘How will this be, since I am a virgin?’

“And the angel answered, ‘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 called holy—the Son of God… Nothing will be impossible with God.’ And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.'” Luke 1:26-38

Imagine the shock, the magnificent disruption, when Gabriel appeared. A heavenly being announced to a teenage girl that she, of all people, was the favored one blessed to bear the promised Messiah. Her response is spontaneous, and telling of her deep dedication to her Lord: a simple question, no argument, a serene, faith- and praise-filled acceptance of this benediction from her Savior.

“And Mary said,

‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
He has shown strength with his arm…
    and exalted those of humble estate.'” Luke 1:46-49,51-5

Those of us who know Christ are also favored to bear Him in our private and public lives. When we enjoy an intimate love relationship with Him and are intent on consistent communion, we rejoice in this privilege of making a difference for eternal generations, and similarly as Mary receive it with joy. But when we prefer to claim safety in salvation but my life as my own, we may see this bestowment as an imposition, an annoyance, a burden, or something we’d rather save for another day or season. Which is our response?

Do we chafe at the ‘restrictions’ of being known by His name, the conviction of the Spirit when we let loose with our flesh? Let Mary’s example challenge and guide us: bring Him doubts, then accept His grace as a gift to be exercised. Ask Him to arouse desire to wear His countenance, speak His words, and exhibit His grace and love. Responding to Him in thanksgiving and praise evokes willingness to serve Him with our all and take Him to the needy, lonely, and lost. (Romans 10:14-15)

Lord, may my soul magnify You for the favor of Your grace and love in Christ to me. May I serve You without fear, in holiness and righteousness to Your glory always. (Luke 1:74-79)

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