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December 24

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

Scripture Reading

Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
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 will be called holy—the Son of God. 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Reflection

Finding Favor with God

The greatness of God routinely goes unnoticed because it is regularly concealed in simplicity. No one would have predicted that God would come into the world through a simple teenage girl from a relatively unknown, remote village. Or that the announcement of God’s entrance into the world would be entrusted to the family of an elderly couple with the disgraceful reputation of childlessness. And yet that is exactly what we find in the Christmas story in both Mary and Elizabeth. There were many magnificent palaces in the Roman Empire and many outstandingly religious families in Jerusalem, yet they played no role at all in the coming of the Creator of the universe.


What made the difference for Mary and Elizabeth? The answer is given to us in this passage: they found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Elizabeth had long given up on her dream of ever being able to hold her own baby in her arms. When she realized she was pregnant, she knew immediately that it was God’s grace that had taken away her disgrace (Luke 1:25). Mary was a chased, unmarried young lady and hence ineligible for childbearing in that condition. But the angel Gabriel explicitly tells her that she has found favor with God. It is an awesome thing to find favor in the eyes of the Lord, for without God’s favor in our lives, there is no remedy for our hopeless condition.


And it makes no difference whether we are men, women, or children. Actually, such passages as this ought to settle once and for all a question that is commonly asked in our day, “Is the Bible biased against women?” When it comes to some of the key moments of God’s direct action in history, the appropriate question seems to be, “Where are the men?” For instance,  witness the number of women exclusively involved in the rescue of Baby Moses in Exodus 2 – Moses’ mother, Moses’ sister, the midwives, and Pharaoh’s daughter. Bible scholars accept the authenticity of biblical accounts regarding the life of Jesus due to the fact the first witnesses to the resurrection were women. The testimony of women was not given any weight in the ancient world, so the fact that the gospel writers reported that women were the first to discover the empty tomb must mean it was really true.


Though no earthly achievement or distinction can ever earn us favor with God, there is one qualification that the Lord demands of all of us, and that is humility. Humility is the secret to finding favor with God. The Bible instructs us many times to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord. Notice that we are to humble ourselves, not expect God to humble us. The Bible says God resists the proud. The God who welcomes all sinners to Himself will hold you at arm’s length if you approach Him with pride. As we witness God’s unfathomable humility in the form of a baby in a manger, may we be humble enough to submit to God and let Him do His work in us.






Notes

Song: Mary, Did You Know, The Hound and the Fox

Scripture quotations are from the ESV®Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright© 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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