26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.” 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” 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 Ps. Madelaine Tarasenko