26In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth 27to a virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph. He was a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
28And the angel went in to her and said, â€œGreetings, recipient of grace*! The Lord is with you!â€ 29But she was disturbed by this greeting, and was wondering what it could mean.
30And the angel said to her, â€œDon’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace from God. 31Look, you will be conceive, bear a son, and call his name Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his ancestor. 33And he will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his kingdom will have no end.
34Mary said to the angel, â€œHow can this be, since I’ve never had sex with a man?â€
35And the angel answered her, â€œThe Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the holy child who will be born will be called the Son of God. 36Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son even though she’s too old for it. She who was called barren is now six months pregnant, 37because there is no matter that is too hard for God.â€
38Mary said, â€œLook! I’m the Lord’s slave. Let what you have said happen to me.â€ And the angel left her. — Luke 1:26-38
[*This is the word translated â€œfull of graceâ€ and can literally be read â€œgraced one.â€ I am trying to convey that picture, even using a phrase that is a bit clumsy.]
It’s easy to claim to follow God’s will. â€œI’ll go wherever God wants me to go!â€ I say. But secretly I’m really glad he hasn’t called me to be an evangelist in Africa. I don’t particularly want to do that. More frequently we’re willing to do things as long as the Lord provides the money enough in advance.
For many of us, however, the idea of doing whatever God’s will is never tested outside of the box we have built around our ordinary lives. There are places we won’t go, things we won’t do, and words we won’t speak. They are simply outside of our conception of â€œwhat we do.â€ It’s not that we’d intentionally disobey God; it’s simply that such activities would never occur to us, or if they did, we’d dismiss them as idle fantasies.
For me, this would be the idea of walking up to a complete stranger and asking, â€œAre you a Christian?â€ or â€œDo you know Jesus?â€ I like to practice long-term relational faith sharing, meaning that I get to know people before I ask them personal questions. In general, I like that plan and I think it’s right. That’s one reason I do it. But another reason I do it is because that fits with my personality. I take some time to get really close to someone, and I’m not extremely bold before I get there.
So what happens if God says to meâ€”don’t worry about how, but suppose I’m sure it’s Godâ€”â€œHenry, go up to that person at the table across the reference and ask them, â€œDo you know Jesus?â€ Would I do it? If I was truly sure it was God, I would hope I would, but I’m absolutely certain I’d immediately ask for confirmationâ€”several times.
So here we have Mary. These days we don’t have the same sort of shame issue involved with being pregnant outside of marriage. People don’t naturally understand the kind of courage involved in Joseph’s choice to marry his fiance even after she got pregnant. The shame and the potential penalties were high. There’s also faith there. What would you think if your girlfriend or wife suddenly announced she was pregnant by the Holy Spirit?
But that’s the guy’s point of view. For Mary there was the possibility she would be thrown out of her home, even killed. Here fiance would refuse to marry herâ€”that was almost certain. What I’m saying is that this was way outside Mary’s box, outside of the boundaries she doubtless had set for her life.
Yet she gives a simple answer: â€œLet what you have said happen to me.â€ Ouch! This 1st century teenager facing death has put the vast majority of us to shame.
Lord, let what you want happen to me!