Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

Mary Gets the Ultimate Shock

She gets the best news ever, but it's not, "You'll have an easy life."

Luke 1:26-33 (ESV)

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 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, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

This is one of the most powerful moments in human history. Gabriel says, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” This really throws Mary for a loop. But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. The word that’s translated, “troubled,” can mean troubled or confused. Here it’s both, as she’s trying to figure out what it might mean, and also Gabriel feels compelled to say, “Do not be afraid.”

Consider Mary’s emotional state for a moment. She’s not the least bit wealthy. She’s betrothed to a good man (and is surely excited about it) but it’s just going to be a typical small town wedding and marriage. Her life up to this point has been as plain as anything you can imagine.

Then Gabriel shows up and drops the ultimate bomb. The word that’s translated as “favored” actually means “full of grace.” God is filling her with his grace. This makes The Publisher’s Clearing House showing up at the front door look like nothing. She’s completely shocked and has no idea what to make of it.

So Gabriel fills in the astonishing details. She’s been chosen to bear the true king, who will rule forever. He will be called the Son of the Most High. The wait for the Messiah is over, and she has been picked for a leading role in redemptive history.

I sure hope she was sitting down.

Good news can actually be hard on people. Notice how many of the things in the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale are not negative events.

Somehow, they forgot to include “bearing the Messiah” on their list – not to mention “watching Him be crucified.” Even “seeing an angel” would be off the charts.

Our stress may not be like Mary’s, but it still counts. If someone you know gets hit with really big good news, be aware that they need friends almost as much as someone who got hit with really bad news.

In either case, we need to be there for them – and not just for a day or two either.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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