Monday, December 22, 2014

God With You

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed [2] to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” [3] 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” 35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born [5] will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant [6] of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38 (ESV)
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”
And at these words of profound faith, and acceptance, the angel departs from her. She gets to ponder the news on her own. It was profound faith, because it put Mary in a perplexing situation. But God has put her in it, and he has given her the faith to carry through. She knows she has a rough road ahead.
The news dances upon our ears merrily today. The incarnation of our Lord and Savior. The Birth of Jesus we are all primed to celebrate in a few days, finally the advent comes as Advent draws to an end! He whose kingdom will have no end comes to us, to save us from our sin, to give us eternal life. The News is astoundingly good to our ears, worthy of yearly celebrations which have accrued around it.
But let’s look at this, here is Mary, probably about thirteen, perhaps as old as 14. She is betrothed, legally married, but living with her parents until such time as Joseph is able to get a home ready, and she was ready to leave home. Now she is pregnant. She had protected herself from just this sort of thing happening. Now she has to explain to her parents that she is pregnant, and to Joseph, who as of yet has not had the benefit of an angel to tell him what is going on. In John 8 Jesus will save an adulteress from a very real threat Mary now faces as he tells the crowd, “he who is without sin cast the first stone.” At this time she knows of other women ruined and forced to make a living doing precisely that which got them into the predicament in the first place. The town will be rife with rumor as Mary is shuttled off to be a Midwife for Elizabeth, and those rumors will continue to our very day by those who would rather slander the mother of our Lord than recognize the virgin birth. Joseph wants to divorce her privately, because he is an honorable man. That is not so much to save her face and life, as to save his own from the dishonor he would receive for marrying such a woman foolish enough to get pregnant by another man, save himself the dishonor of a cuckold. The sort of dishonor he will receive when he picks Mary up from the hill country of Judea, from Elizabeth’s home and brings her to Bethlehem, his hometown. I mean, it’s subtle, but it wasn’t so much that there wasn’t room in the inn, as it was there wasn’t room for them in the inn, after, it seems, all his relatives had told them to go elsewhere, because they had no place in their heart for sinners like that. So in sin they turn the Lord out into the cold, because they can’t forgive sin.

No, Mary’s life had just been shattered by this news. She knew what lie ahead for her. Yet, she trusts that the angels greeting is true, and that she is a favored one, for the Lord is with her. The lord being with you is hardly a guarantee of the good life, or the easy life. Jesus is very adamant that those who are his disciples can expect to have the same hardships and treatment from the world that he received. Hardships and treatment that will test your faith, but we can take heart and faith with Mary knowing that our Lord is with us and will remain with us, because it was precisely for this reason that he deemed it necessary a virgin should give birth to her God and endure the hardships of shame and humiliation to bring him into this world. That we would know we have a Lord who does not abandon us in our hardships. On the contrary, it is precisely to see us through the hard times that he has come, and died, that even in death we would not be forsaken by him who died that we may live. And because of that, the Lord, whose kingdom has no end, who has overcome this world of tribulation, the Lord favors you, being present with you in all your days.

1 comment:

Gary said...
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