On Sunday, we heard an excellent message from Pastor Suni about the different reactions in the Christmas story. My wheels started turning about Mary’s reactions before Jesus’ birth and afterwards. I made some notes at the time and gave it some thought afterwards.
When Mary saw the Angel Gabriel, her first reaction was puzzlement over what the angel said. (Usually, when someone saw an angel, he was afraid. Mary may have also been afraid, as later, Gabriel says to her Fear not.) She wondered why the angel would say, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women (Luke 1:28). What did that mean? Why would the angel have said she was highly favored and blessed? The angel understood her thoughts and repeated, thou hast found favour with God. Gabriel added: And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Luke 1:30b-33).
Then Mary said, “What? Don’t I get a say about this? What if I don’t want to?”
I’m kidding. She didn’t say that at all.
Mary only needed an explanation. How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God (Luke 1:34-35). Gabriel assured her that God is able to do the impossible. He gave her the illustration of how God had helped her sterile cousin Elisabeth conceive, and said, For with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37).
Mary’s immediate reaction? It’s amazing. She knew exactly what it would mean to be pregnant without a husband. She knew it might make Joseph reject her. She knew she could even be stoned for adultery. But she said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.
And the angel departed from her (Luke 1:38).
Why did God choose Mary out of all the other young women? We have a hint in the words we saw at the beginning: highly favored (God’s opinion), blessed, and the Lord is with thee. Mary was a godly girl who had a personal relationship with God. We also have clues from her unusual deportment. She reacts in sweet submission. She doesn’t question (except how), she doesn’t complain, and she doesn’t rebel. She knows she was chosen for a task—a very difficult one—and she is ready and willing to accept it. It’s her mission for God. She’s prepared and willing.
I couldn’t help but think how her response, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word compares with the qualities of a meek and quiet spirit. God says those characteristics are in the sight of God of great price (1 Peter 3:4). This is from a biblical passage that speaks about the way women should be in their hearts.
I wonder how I would react? Would I sweetly say, “So be it.” Or would I ask a million questions and then decide how I wanted to answer?
Mary was already a God-fearing girl. She was already submissive to His will for her life. She already had a controlled, quiet spirit. That’s why God chose her to be Jesus’ mother.
The rest of Mary’s story is fascinating, and I’ve written about it several times. (You can access those posts here, here, and here.) I’d like to address one other idea in the context of her quiet spirit. Do you remember the phrase, But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart? (Luke 2:19)
After Jesus had talked with the wise men in the temple when He was twelve years old, Mary’s response was the same: his mother kept all these sayings in her heart (Luke 2:51b).
Mary was a woman whose heart was attuned to what God was doing.
How are our reactions?
When God is doing something unusual in our lives—expect it!—how do we respond?
When we witness God proving Himself powerful on our behalf, showing Himself to be all-knowing and present in our lives, do we store these things up in our hearts? Do we meditate on them (repeat them over and over) in our minds?
Do we have meek (self-controlled) and quiet spirits?
Why did God choose Mary? It’s because she had a beautiful character.
God was pleased with her yieldedness and knew He could trust her to be the mother for His only Son. God blessed her with this privilege.
Can God trust us with special privileges?
Be it unto me according to thy word.