Mary said “yes” to God. And her “yes” changed our lives! The gospel of Luke records a stunning account of this young woman’s faith. She was entrusted with a remarkable responsibility to be the mother of God’s incarnate son. She was likely only 15. Old enough to know the shame and contempt that she would suffer as she bore a child as an unmarried but betrothed woman. While we are not given a resume that justifies her qualifications for her role in redemptive history, we are given a few hints that help us reconstruct her character and faith.
How does her faith inspire us? In the midst of our cultures’ political and racial strife, in the midst of our COVID-19 disrupted lives, how can Mary teach us to trust? Her response to the new blueprint for her life demonstrates her faith wasn’t in herself but in the God. As we celebrate lighting the 2nd candle of Advent, our focus is on faith.
After the angel foretells Mary has been chosen to birth the holy Son of God, her response is surrender. She says, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:36). The term “servant” in this context means, “one who worships God and submits to him” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). Mary’s intrinsic “yes” came from a deep place of submission that must have been cultivated over time. She understood her role as a created one and rather than responding with an inherent feeling of entitlement that is so common in our culture, she chose humility. She was mature enough to know that she was surrendering to uncertainty; to a life-altering change she did not ask for.
The second hint we are given of Mary’s faith is a record of her heart’s response of praise known as The Magnificat (Latin for magnificent). This song actually tells us more about Mary than any of the other clues we are given. Mary’s song is filled with a dozen Old Testament references and mirrors the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. As Jessamy Dellin writes, “It suggests Mary was a student; that Mary had been attentive to and formed by centuries of God’s words, passed down through generations of the faithful, who waited, longed, and died for the coming of the Lord.”
Mary’s faithful dependence on scripture is astounding since Israel had experienced 400 years of silence from God! Due to Israel’s sin, God withdrew his typical messengers and leaders. There were no judges, prophets, or kings that revealed His faithfulness to His covenant promises in those days. There was only silence. Yet, Mary studied God’s previous revelations. She prepared herself to respond in faith to the Messiah promised centuries ago.
When was the last time that you said “yes” to God’s leading in your own life? In the midst of this turbulent year, is there something that He is asking you to do that you don’t have all the qualifications for? Mary’s life demonstrates that a resume full of experience and aptitude is not what God needs to qualify for His assignments: “for nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). Recognizing our servant status and spending time studying God’s word ought to occupy us as we celebrate Jesus’ birth and await his 2nd coming.
May you express extraordinary faith this season and, in the year, to come.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us the faith to hear your call on our lives. Keep us from the idols of comfort and control. Give us a desire to seek you. Ground us in your Word so that we might view the world and our circumstances through your eyes. Stir up our faith as we celebrate this Advent season. In Jesus name, amen!