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Accepting the Favour

Luke 1:26-33
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 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, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants for ever; his kingdom will never end.’ (NIVUK)

The old, childless couple were miraculously going to have a baby.  After years of grief and prayer, the angel Gabriel spoke to the old priest Zechariah in the temple (Luke 1:19), saying that his aging wife, Elizabeth, would have a son (Luke 1:11-13).   When the previously barren Elizabeth was three months away from delivering John, the same angel surprised her unmarried teenage relative, Mary, in Nazareth.  Gabriel told her that God was with her and wanted to give her something special from Himself.  It was an alarming encounter.  A strange man coming to a betrothed girl.  What did he want?  No wonder that Mary was afraid.  But, as with Zechariah (Luke 1:13), the angel commanded Mary not to fear because God was for her and not against her (Romans 8:31).

Mary was going to be married to Joseph.  This wedding had already been arranged - either between the parents, or with Joseph, if he was an older man - and sealed with a gift to the girl’s father.  Brides in Israel had to be virgins but, if they were found not to be, they could be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 22:20-24).  So the next part of Gabriel’s message was even more alarming.  This stranger knew her name and started talking to her about having a child: he announced that God had chosen her to be the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But as the angel continued to speak, the words made sense to Mary.  This baby was to be God’s Son and the King of Israel.  This was the Messiah that Mary and her future husband, and their parents, and all of Israel were waiting for.  This was so great a privilege that Mary was in awe of God’s favour to her (Luke 1:46-49), and she received God’s Word and believed what He had said (Luke 1:45).

No descendent of Adam deserves God's favour; we are all sinners (Romans 3:23) and included under the curse of Genesis 3:6-19.  That is why we need a Saviour, to rescue us from God's wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).  Mary's privilege was to give birth to the Saviour of the world, but she and Joseph did not create Him, nor did the angel: God did, by His Holy Spirit (Luke 1:35).  How did God select Mary for that task?  Well, He has the right to choose to give His grace to whoever He wants; and He chooses those who will receive His gift.  Mary was a great 'receiver'.  She received the angel’s news with humble acceptance (Luke 1:38), and was ready to welcome the Son of the Most High into her body.

Jesus was to be the greatest person ever, the promised King. Unlike all other rulers, His dominion would last for ever.  That means that He reigns over all the world today, and therefore we are all accountable to Him.  Even Mary was accountable to her Son (Matthew 12:46-50, John 2:1-5).  Wherever you are, at work, at home, on holiday or in church ... you are accountable to Jesus Christ, because He is the King.  He will come back again to call everybody to account, but all those who have received Him will also receive His favour (see www.crosscheck.org.uk to know more).

Dear Father God. Thank You for sending Jesus to be my Saviour. Forgive me for the times I have refused to receive Your Word or Your gracious favour. Mary was indeed favoured to be able to carry the physical body of Christ, and all who believe in Him can also be favoured as they receive Jesus. May I be more conscious of Your indwelling presence every day and give thanks to You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams