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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Ordinary Mary

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered.
“May it be to me as you have said.”
Then the angel left her.”
Luke 1:38 NIV

I am amazed at how ordinary Mary, the mother of Jesus really was. She was not from a big city. She was from the small town of Nazareth. Actually, Nazareth did not have a very good reputation. Her family was not wealthy or well to do. There were plenty of other young women who were her friends that God could have chosen to be the mother of Jesus, but he didn’t. It makes me wonder, why Mary? Simply put, Mary was ordinary, so what was it that set her apart?
I imagine that Mary was going about her business, dreaming of her wedding to Joseph the carpenter and planning her future that no doubt included many of Joseph’s children. Mary was raised in a typical Jewish household and was taught the importance of respecting God and trusting him for his provision and protection. Mary was also taught to look for the promised Messiah. She believed all that God had promised regarding the Messiah would come to pass.
Mary’s days were most likely routine. Perhaps she helped her mother care for younger children, bake bread, fill water jars, and perform other tasks for the family. Yet one day out of the blue here comes the angel Gabriel, straight from heaven with news that was not the best. Mary I know you are a virgin, but not for long. You will become pregnant, not by Joseph, but by the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. It will be a mystery to you but nevertheless, trust me, it will happen.
God in his wisdom sent an angel. The angel Gabriel was a very visible sign for an invisible experience that was soon to take place. Gabriel’s beginning message was pleasant enough, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Now I’m guessing that when you are in Mary’s position it would be good to know that she was highly favored. But in the days ahead it would be even more important for Mary to know that the Lord was with her.
“Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God.” She may have thought, “I’m glad he knows my knees are knocking!” And there it was again, that word “favor”. What will that mean? Then here came the words rolling off the tongue of Gabriel, the words that would change her life forever! “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus.” Good to know! In a world absent of sonograms, here was an angel standing before her with divine information, a son, and on top of that a name already chosen.
Now at this point, ordinary Mary may have gone straight back to fear! How can this be? What will Joseph say? What will my parents say? My father will be angry. My mother will cry.  This is shameful. I may be stoned when Joseph finds out. Mary’s thoughts invaded her mind with such speed that they had no chance of becoming words. Fear? Are you kidding me? Of course I’m afraid! I’m petrified!
Then more information from the bearer of bad news! If I were Mary I think at this point I would want to grab a scroll and something to write with, then grab some young boy who could write and have him take a few notes! Gabriel continues, “He will be great and will be called the son of the Most High. The Lord will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
Now in the middle of this horrific storm of life change Mary hears what Gabriel is really saying.He will be great.” He will be God’s Son. “The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever;” He will be a ruling king. The implication of that statement pointed to her precious baby boy as being the promised Messiah! “His kingdom will never end.”
I’m not sure if Mary really believed that God would take care of her, but for sure she knew that he would take care of his Son, the promised Messiah. For Mary those words may have been the very words that dispelled her fear. Basically, Mary was just an ordinary young virgin that was available. God knew her heart and knew that she would respond to him in humble faithfulness. She was not chosen because she was holy. Mary was chosen because she was available to be a vessel for God’s use.
Mary’s response to Gabriel is priceless. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her. I wonder how much time passed from Gabriel’s arrival until his departure. Was it five minutes, fifteen minutes, a half hour, an hour, an afternoon, an entire day? I do not know but I do commend Mary on her quick obedience. Sometimes I argue with God for days, months, and even years. If Mary was extraordinary on any level it was in her immediate response to obedience. She quickly sent a message back to God via Gabriel. “May it be to me as you have said.” Oh, for a heart like Mary’s. A heart that was not only available to God but also a heart that quickly responded to God in loving obedience.
Do you marvel at Mary’s heart for her God?
Has God ever asked anything of you that you thought was impossible?
Was your first response fear?
If God asks you to do something, do you believe he will be with you if your are obedient?
Are you impressed with Mary’s quick response of obedience?
Are you available to God to be used as a vessel for his service?


Dear God,

I am encouraged to know that Mary was just an ordinary woman. I see also that Mary was not perfect. She had negative thoughts and fearful responses. She didn’t want to disappoint her parents or Joseph. But God, above all others, Mary didn’t want to disappoint you. Mary so wanted to please you that her response could be nothing less than yes Lord, I will be obedient, use me. God, I see that Mary was able to set aside selfish concerns and bow in humble obedience to your will for her life. I pray God that you would help me learn from Mary. God, I want to be available to you. Help me Lord to cast out all fear when you ask something of me. I want to be obedient to you because I love you. Forgive me God when I procrastinate regarding my obedience.  I thank you God that you have recorded Mary’s example of obedience in your Word so that I might be encouraged to set aside fear and choose the path of obedience. God, I don’t want to be just a believer. I want to be a believer that trusts you in all circumstances. I want to trust you because I believe with all my heart that you love me and will always be with me even when life would give me every reason to doubt.

In your Son’s name I pray. Amen.