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Mary’s Encouragement In God’s Work Within Her

Luke 1:32 (ESV) … “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…”

Gabriel repeated to Mary that she had found favor with God (see “favored woman” in previous verse). The words meant that Mary had become the recipient of favor bestowed on her by a superior—in this case, by God himself. It did not point out any special virtue in Mary—she was not sinless. Some have suggested that Mary was favored because of what she was in herself, that she had grace to bestow on others, and that she remained a virgin forever. However Scripture gives the opposite understanding. God chose Mary, blessed her, and she humbly accepted his call to be the mother of Jesus. Then she went on to have other children (8:19; Matthew 13:55–56; Mark 6:3).

The result of this favor came in God’s choice of Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Gabriel explained that this child would grow in her womb, be born as all human children are born, and be named Jesus. This son will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest. The word “Son” was a designation of the Messiah. God would miraculously create a human child who would actually be his Son, the long-awaited Savior (Genesis 49:10; 2 Samuel 7:9–16; Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 7:14; 9:1–7; 11:1–3).

Jesus, a Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua, was a common name meaning “Yahweh saves.” Just as Joshua had led Israel into the Promised Land (see Joshua 1:1–2), so Jesus would lead his people into eternal life. The symbolism of Jesus’ name was not lost on the people of his day, who took names seriously and saw them as a source of power. In Jesus’ name people would be healed, demons would be banished, and sins would be forgiven.

God’s favor does not automatically bring instant success or fame. His blessing on Mary, the honor of being the mother of the Messiah, would lead to much pain: her peers would ridicule her; her fianc‚ would consider leaving her; her son would be rejected and murdered. But through her son would come the world’s only hope, and this is why Mary has been praised by countless generations as the young girl who “found favor with God.” Mary’s submission was part of God’s plan to bring about salvation. If sorrow weighs you down and dims your hope, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out his plan. [1]

[1] Barton, B. B., Veerman, D., Taylor, L. C., & Osborne, G. R. (1997). Luke (pp. 18–19). Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

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