December is now officially upon us and we have launched fully into the season of Advent. So it is only right that at Mummy Meditations we acknowledge that!! So we have decided to follow the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, throughout this season and in to the New Year. Our first verse of the series was:
“Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God” Luke 1:29-30
Mary – who do we think she is?
Now this passage might be quite familiar to you – we as a family have read the Christmas story every December for the past five years and before that I would hear the same passages read at church in the lead up to Christmas. The angel appears to Mary and she becomes pregnant. But I wanted to dig down deeper into who this woman (or girl is probably more appropriate!) is and was.
In our Facebook community we shared what the world thinks of Mary, through comedy Christmas card pictures of a laughing pregnant cartoon Mary, to traditional artwork with a serene looking halo clad Mary, and everything in between. Its fascinating to see that our modern pictures of her are influenced by symbolism used in previous artwork. Mary is always wearing blue – why? Because this symbolised royalty and peace. But in actual fact, if you research the history of the time she would most likely have been wearing brown/beige clothes as only those with wealth could afford dyes to colour their clothes (especially blue and purple dyes which were the most rare and expensive).
Another thing we commonly view Mary as is in her twenties. This has been a common time for young women to become mothers in the last few centuries, but actually in biblical times it was more common for girls to become engaged around the age of 14. This means that Mary would have actually been a teenager, probably in our equivalent of Year 9/10. So we need to throw away our view of 20 year old Mary for a much young looking girl.
We want the holy, peaceful, blue coloured Mary, as that fits nicely with what we think God would choose in the mother of His son. But I’m not 100% sure that is who Mary was. This woman, who has been elevated to almost the same level as Jesus in some places, was not chosen to be elevated in that way or for the reasons we think. So lets see what God says.
Mary – Who does god say she is?
God sends His messenger down to speak to Mary on His behalf, and he doesn’t say much, but what he does say reveals a lot about who Mary is. Her reaction also reveals a lot about her true character.
Firstly we see that Mary was troubled at the angel’s words. When we look back to verse 28 we see the angel greets her in a surprising way “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you”. Now, I guess the arrival of an angel might be quite scary on its own, but then to have that holy being tell you that you are favoured? That’s just odd!!! A proud kind of person might go “yeah, I’m gonna own that – I’m pretty amazing aren’t I!” and puff themselves up with the complement. But Mary isn’t like that. Mary probably remembers the times in the Old Testament where people were struck down dead just for seeing the likeness of God’s glory because they were not worthy. So her reaction of being troubled I think reveals her knowledge of her people’s history, an awareness of her imperfections and a humility that doesn’t quite accept those words about herself.
Secondly, we see that the angel comforts her and calms her as she reacts in this way. He says not to be afraid. And those words work! Mary truly believes that this is a messenger from God who means her no harm. We see this is the continued conversation she has with him in verses 31-38, where she calmly asks some follow up questions to what the angel announces. Mary has faith that this is really God and that is an important characteristic for her the have! Even at a young age of 14, Mary has grasped who God is and knows that it is an amazing privilege to be chosen to be part of His work.
Lastly, the angel says that Mary has “found favour with God”. This is echoed from the verse before where the angel says she is “highly favoured” and speaks of someone who is first choice, the best candidate and special to the person choosing. To me this speaks of someone who already has a relationship with God, who is known to him. I can picture Mary praying and studying the word, getting closer to God throughout her childhood, so that when this happens it is not a huge shock, but more some exciting news from a close friend that Mary gets to share in! Of all of God’s children whom He loves so much, He has a special relationship with Mary and that is why she is favoured. That is why when He sat and thought about who the ideal person to do this job would be (and He knew exactly the pain, rejection, confusion and heartbreak that would be involved) Mary was the name that came to Him.
how would you feel to be mary?
So this Mary that God is speaking to is humble, she’s a close friend, she isn’t perfect but she is faithful and believes whole heartedly in her God after seeing Him move in her nation’s history. She has characteristics known to God that even she isn’t aware of yet, and strength greater than most women put together. Perhaps she was “meek and mild” but I think Mary was much more than that. And I for one am excited to see more of her character come through over the next 5 weeks.
One final thing I want to say is – how would you feel to be Mary? If an angel came to you and said you were favoured, would you get puffed up and boast about it, would you curl up in a ball afraid, or would you embrace what God is saying as you know Him personally and understand what He is calling you to do? Mary was ready to accept this difficult and important task because she was special to God already – are you making sure you are favoured by God too by getting to know Him better?
We carry on looking at Mary’s reaction to being part of God’s amazing plan with this verse:
“From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me – holy is his name” Luke 1:48-49
Do join Naomi as she leads the discussion over in our Facebook community and posts her thoughts on the verse next Sunday. You can sign up to be part of the community below, where you can get your hands on free workbooks and phone lock screens as well as joining the discussion throughout the week.