Mary: Submitting to God’s will.
Read Luke 1:26-38
“Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.”
The last person mentioned in the genealogy of Matthew 1 is one we most easily recognize-- Mary. While the other four were mentioned as a testimony of God’s grace to overcome their past failures or their heritage, Mary is included for a completely different reason. From the outset, Mary’s life and faith were exemplary. The angel first greets her with the affirmation that she has found grace (the word favor comes from the word translated elsewhere as grace) before God. In the case of the other four women, the grace of God brought redemption from their past, but for Mary, the grace of God is the pronouncement that the events that are going to transpire in her life are the work of God. But unlike the others, this pronouncement will not free her from the taint of sin, but will lead others to gossip behind her back by accusing her of sins she did not commit. When the angel proclaimed that she would give birth to the Son of the Most High and that he would be destined to sit upon the throne of David and reign over the house of Jacob forever must have seemed incredulous. What we do see is her perplexity that she would have a child since she was still a virgin. We can only guess at what thoughts she had regarding how that would impact her life. In that moment of wonderment at the vision of an Angel did she really understood the cost that would have upon her own life? There would be the whispers of the gossips that Mary was not the “nice” girl everyone thought she was, for she was having a baby out of wedlock. There would be rumors of who the father was. Then there would the impact of seeing her beloved child rise in prominence as a popular itinerate preacher who would ruffle the feathers of the religious establishment. The rumormongers would talk about her son as the religious rebel who was undermining the religious faith of the Jews. But the greatest cost would be the heartbreak of seeing her dreams for her son dashed when he was cruelly executed on the cross. Her grief must have been overwhelming. As she walked away from the cross, I can imagine her mind reflecting back to the appearance of the angel and wondering why God’s promises failed.
Whatever thoughts went through her mind at the moment the Angel was speaking, we do know her response, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” In that response, we find the heart of one who was willing to fully submit to whatever the future would hold. A bondslave is one was who was owned by another and lived only to do the will of the owner. In her confession, she surrenders her will and her future to the plan of God for her life. Whether she fully grasp the enormity of her pain that would come was irrelevant. Her only desire was that God’s will would be done.
When we think of Christmas, we focus on the child in the manger, but we can also learn from the mother sitting beside the manger, a mother who exemplified what faith truly means. Faith is not just believing in God and in the Christmas story, it is surrendering one’s life completely to God and allowing him to dictate the direction our life takes. In her prayer, we find the prayer we ourselves should pray daily. We see the prayer of availability, that she is available and willing for God to use her as he desires. As we reflect upon the Christmas story this year, let it serve as a reminder that we also should pray that in this coming year God would accomplish his will through us.