Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming in, he said to her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”….“Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.” Luke 1:26, 30
I would love to have been Mary! To be chosen – favored – by the Lord to be the mother of The Savior. To know exactly what I am supposed to do. To have a purpose that transcends all the little things in life. To be the mother of my Lord! What must it have been like to be so humble as to have said, “Be it done to me according to your word” and “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Oh to be so pliable and willing!
But during a conversation with my daughter, she woke me from my imaginings to remind me of the pain and suffering Mary went through. We only think of the bumpy ride on the donkey or that uncomfortable delivery in the stable. But there is so much more she committed to when she stated those words!
And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38
What did being “favored” really entail? By definition, “favor” includes being: approved, preferred, protected, and given consideration. Mary was chosen for a specific purpose, defined to do a certain work by the God of the Universe! But that didn’t mean the work would be easy or risk-free! I had the wrong picture when I thought of Mary and her role, as if it would be somehow easy and filled with honor and respect.
What Did Mary’s “Favor” Require of Her?
- Mary had knowledge from the beginning of motherhood that her son would be a ruler and a king. She must have waited and wondered what time this would occur. Was she on pins and needles, wondering? Knowing the prophesies, did she treasure each moment given to her with her Son? How did she respond to this favor?
- Remember, Mary’s pregnancy was no piece of cake either! She became pregnant out of wedlock. Then, she had to tell her betrothed of her plight and risk her future husband’s trust. She was discredited by her neighbors, enduring their mocking and disdaining looks. Not pleasant, I’m sure? Would I really wish to be Mary now?
- Added to that, her delivery was a bit unusual. She was taken from the comfort of her home and family and sent to a distant town to deliver her baby. Imagine being nine months pregnant, ready to deliver, riding on a donkey all the way to Bethlehem. Plus, Mary most probably labored on that donkey! Oh, my. How’s my dream looking now?!
- Of course, she did have the wonderment of shepherds finding the new family in the cave and praising God for their deliverer being born! What an incredible confirmation of God’s plan. But wait, there’s more!
- When they were settled in their home raising their Son, the call came to take Jesus to safety in Egypt to escape the crazed ruler who threatened to kill her child! Another move to make, trusting God to work out all the details. Trusting Him to save this Son and probably hoping that this would not be the time of His sacrifice. What trust must Mary have had to endure this time of uncertainty! What patience.
Now fast forward to a time much later. A time of peace and contentment, knowing her son was a capable carpenter running a business with his earthly father. When would Jesus’ time come to do business with His heavenly Father? I imagine she wondered that often. And then, Jesus began to move forward in God’s plan for redemption, becoming the Master Teacher and Healer!
What joy, what honor, what favor must Mary have felt as she watched her Son begin to teach and heal and forgive. What trust in God to do exactly what He foretold so many years ago! Now the time has come. And so she waits.
The Final Travail – The Final Favor
What is the culmination of Mary’s “favor”? Having to watch as the whole world turns upside down around her — all because of her Son — God’s Son! What must it have been like to listen to the words of the Pharisees, the community, the leaders – all speaking words of hatred about the Son of God, her Son?! Yes, this must be what God meant by sacrifice and savior.
Oh, that I would remember Mary, a mother like I am, standing by as the people mocked, spit upon, and voted against her Son. Being no more than a bystander, she watched as her Jesus was beaten, scourged, pierced through, and finally, crucified – hung to die on a cross, for all to see! Oh the agony, the pain, the sadness she must have felt!
May we never forget Mary, the one kneeling next to the manger in our nativity set, looking so content, also suffered and served as the one who was ‘favored’ by our God.
- Favored to do His will.
- Favored to bear and raise up the only Son of God.
- Favored to see through His plan for salvation.
- Favored to witness the death of her Son.
Favor. Do I really understand what this word truly means? Am I ready to do God’s will in whatever manner He decides to favor me? Or am I waiting for my own idea of favor to come upon me before I will truly ‘magnify the Lord’?
Oh, this is such a huge message for me this season! Mary found favor, trusted in her God, and acted in faith and obedience through all her great trials. She lived her life — poured out her life — to see God’s plan unfold.
I now know why God chose Mary.
And I am humbled.
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble sate of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed. For the Mighty One has done great things for me; and holy is His name.” Luke 1:46-49