Wednesday, December 18, 2019
When I travel through North Dakota and other western states, I am struck with the immensity of God. After traveling from the beauty of the forests and hills of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, the topography changes radically to flat and almost treeless plains where one can see for miles. The next farm is barely visible and the horizon seems unattainable. I imagine what is beyond, and my mind swirls as it swims in the depths of infinity. My limitations overwhelm me in the attempt to visualize the limitlessness of God.
That is the way my mind is responding to the incredible grace of God depicted in today’s conversation between the angel Gabriel and the soon-to-be mother named Mary.
Luke 1:26 – 28 26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
The great and overarching theme of Christmas is the grace of God. There is nothing that overwhelms our finite thoughts more than an attempt to comprehend the wonder of God’s grace. Our minds are befuddled when we try to qualify that which qualifies us. We who measure others and ourselves by human qualifications cannot fully comprehend the unconditional qualification of imperfect people by a perfect God. Yet that is what God does by grace.
Have there ever been sweeter words to the ears of any person than to be told that they have found favor with God? Mary was puzzled by this greeting, as are all of us when we are told that we are fully and unconditionally accepted into relationship with God. Yet those are the words that we long to hear. It is the deepest desire of our hearts to be accepted and to know that our lives have purpose and meaning. Yet we doubt the authenticity of the message. We are troubled by the thought that God can draw that close to us because we know the depths of our sin and unworthiness. But can you think of anything you would rather hear than the voice of God calling you His child, His heir, and His friend?
The message to Mary is also God’s message to us. When God directed Gabriel to tell Mary that she was highly favored, He chose a word that in the Greek language is used only one other time in all of Scripture, and its use is very significant for all of us. It is found in Ephesians 1:6, and literally translated says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” We have found, in Christ Jesus, the same favor of God that was proclaimed to Mary. We have been accepted into the beloved.
Hallelujah! What a great message of encouragement for us and for all the millions of people still seeking acceptance. We have the Gospel of Grace. We have experienced God’s unconditional forgiveness and acceptance. Let’s go tell the world that they too can be forgiven and accepted – and it’s FREE!