The angel said to Mary, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." Mary may not have felt highly favored at that moment, for the Bible says she was "greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be." I think we can excuse Mary’s disturbed state. Anyone of us would be deeply moved if an angel suddenly appeared and engaged us in conversation!
The angel continued, "Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus." Since Mary was a young girl, engaged but not yet united to her husband, bewilderment and astonishment overwhelmed her.
"How will this be," she asked, "since I am a virgin?"
The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon 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."
May’s humble disposition can be seen in her response to the angelic announcement: "I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said."
Mary probably needed some assistance processing this unbelievable proclamation that she would be the mother of God’s son, so she rushed to her cousin Elizabeth with the story of the angel’s visit and announcement. The baby in Elizabeth leaped for joy; Elizabeth announced the exalted state of Mary: "Blessed are you among women," she exclaimed.
Having a little time to process all of this news Mary was moved to sing praises to God. She sang, "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant." (Luke 1:28-48)
Mary’s emotions ranged from shock and fear to joyous exhilaration. She, a humble peasant girl, would be an instrument in God’s redemption of mankind. She would give life to the one who would ultimately give her life.
(Picture: An ancient manger, such as Jesus may have been placed in).
God often surprises us with his person and presence. At times in the Bible he made his presence known through personal appearances, as with Moses. At other times he mediated his presence through an angel or inspired prophet. At other times his presence was manifested in the preaching of the Gospel, which stirred the souls of people and moved them to obedience. God’s appearing often produced fear. But to the heart open and receptive to a visit from the Holy One, his appearing also produced life, love and joy, as with Mary.
God still appears to his people. He still makes bold announcements that "The Son of God is here!" He makes those announcements through us when we worship, share a meal, enjoy fellowship, help someone in need and proclaim the Gospel. God still inspires in his people the bold confession, "My soul glorifies the Lord!" I hope he inspires that in you, especially during this season. Merry Christmas.