26 In the sixth month after Elizabeth had become pregnant, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee. 27 He was sent to a virgin. The girl was engaged to a man named Joseph. He came from the family line of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel greeted her and said, “The Lord has blessed you in a special way. He is with you.” 29 Mary was very upset because of his words. She wondered what kind of greeting this could be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary. God is very pleased with you. 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son. You must call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king like his father David of long ago. 33 The Son of the Most High God will rule forever over his people. They are from the family line of Jacob. That kingdom will never end.” 34 “How can this happen?” Mary asked the angel. “I am a virgin.” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come to you. The power of the Most High God will cover you. So the holy one that is born will be called the Son of God. 36 Your relative Elizabeth will have a child even though she is old. People thought she could not have children. But she has been pregnant for six months now. 37 That’s because what God says will always come true.” 38 “I serve the Lord,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me just as you said it would.” Then the angel left her.
Mary is one of those characters in the Bible that carries a lot of weight in our world today. She is instantly recognisable in statues and images across the world, known as Mother Mary & Saint Mary in some places.
Reading this passage though, all I can think is that at this point in her life she perhaps got a lot more than she originally bargained for when it came to knowing and obeying God.
No wonder that she was greatly troubled at the word she received from Gabriel – that as a virgin she would become pregnant, and not only that, but the child she would bear would be the Son of God himself. I wonder what Mary was doing when she received this message. What was she envisioning for her life before Gabriel came to town? Probably not this.
Yet this passage says that she responded in obedience at the time of the conversation – there was no “let me think about it Gabe, I’ll get back to you”. She submits to and accepts what is asked of her. For me, the explanation behind her response is found in verse 38 – “I am the Lord’s servant”. Mary’s obedience is wrapped up in her understanding of her identity as a servant of The Lord. Her life is submitted to God, that His will would be done in her and through her.
God asks of each of us different things. Some small, some large and highly consequential, and some that require significant sacrifice. Yet what He is looking for is obedience like Mary’s. My prayer is that my obedience to God would be wrapped up in my understanding of my identity in Him; that I am His child, that He is my God, and ultimately – like in Mary’s case – that obeying His plans, even when there is a cost or I don’t fully understand, is ultimately always best.
God, let each of us be encouraged by the obedience Mary showed. May we too see ourselves as your servants and your children, that we would obey the calling and plans you have for our lives. Amen.
Written by Madelaine Tarasenko