Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Wednesday, April 24th

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Judges 15-16, Psalm 82, John 14
Today's scripture focus is Luke 1:34-38

34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35 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. 36 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.37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 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.

Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: Jesus' Birth Prophesied
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: The Virgin Birth: A Divine Miracle

Notice the difference between Zechariah's and Mary's response (emphasis mine)....

18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 
34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

At first glance, the responses seem pretty similar.  But if you look close, there is a slight difference, and it turns out that slight difference is huge indeed.

Zechariah's question is a matter of belief.  He doesn't believe it.  And he's got some good reasons not to - he's old, his wife is old, they were barren even before they were old.  It's just not physical possible anymore.  He doesn't believe.  And that's his question, it's one of unbelief.  How can I know this is true cause this sounds ridiculous.

But Mary's question is not a matter of belief.  She believes.  She just doesn't understand how God's going to do it, because she knows it's physically impossible to be pregnant and be a virgin at the same time.  She wants an explanation, and God graciously gives her one.

Both Driscoll and MacArthur agree that her question was not one of doubt, but of the mechanics of how this was going to work.

Isn't that amazing?

Who "should have" had more faith?  Zechariah or Mary?

He was a priest, with education and vast knowledge of the Law.  And he was a righteous man.  There's no doubt about that.

But she was a simple girl, with minimal if any education, whose knowledge of the Law was restricted to what she heard at synagogue or possibly what she learned from her parents.

By all accounts, she should've been the doubter.  But she wasn't.  She had a simple faith.  She believed God.

And, if that wasn't enough - she was willing to do whatever God wanted her to do, no matter the cost to herself.

38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” 

Just think of it.  She was engaged to be married.  She was in the middle of planning her wedding to the man of her dreams.

She knew what the angel was telling her.  She knew what she was getting into if she accepted.  She knew that no one would believe her story of a virgin conception, of an angel visitation, that she had been chosen to be the mother of the Messiah.  No one would buy that story.

And the angel never gave her any assurances.  Gabriel never told her that Joseph would also receive an angelic visitation.

Now, she likely assumed that Joseph wouldn't have her stoned - since God would want Jesus to be born, that would be a safe assumption.

But she had no way of knowing if Joseph would divorce her.

And she had every reason to believe that everyone in their town would call her a fornicator for the rest of her life, that everyone would taunt her Son that He couldn't even be sure of who His father was.   And in all likelihood, that's exactly what happened.

We tend to romanticize Mary and how glorious it would've been to be pregnant with the Son of God.

But again, we're looking at it through this side of the New Testament, not hers.  The reality was not romantic.  The reality was not easy.  The reality was hard.  Really, really hard.

She was willing to be the subject of scorn for the rest of her life, because she was a willing servant of God.  She was willing to give up marriage to a wonderful man if necessary in order to do the will of God. She was willing to give up all of her best laid plans, because God had a better plan - not an easier plan, but a better plan.

That is faith.

That is absolutely incredible faith.

Are you and I willing to say, like Mary did, "I am a servant of the Lord, may it be to me according to Your plan, not mine"?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Luke 1:39-45
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Judges 17-18, Psalm 83, John 15

1 comment:

Miriam said...

Great post. I sometimes think it is easier to have strong faith when you know less. :) Mary was young, I've heard it said she was likely about 14. The Bible also says that our faith should be like that of a child - and if you've had the opportunity to observe children (who have not been abused or mistreated early in life), you know that a child's faith is an amazingly beautiful thing, whether it is faith in the love and security of their home and family or faith in God. It's only once we grow up and see the world around us and start to question and seek answers to those questions that our faith can and often does become less solid. It actually does not surprise me at all that Mary's faith would have been more absolute than was Zechariah's.