Walking Points

God with Us

God with Us

Luke 1:26-38

Magnificat

My soul glorifies the Lord

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has been mindful

of the humble state of his servant.

From now on all generations will call me blessed,

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

holy is his name.

50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,

from generation to generation.

51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones

but has lifted up the humble.

53 He has filled the hungry with good things

but has sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

remembering to be merciful

55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,

just as he promised our ancestors.” (Luke 1:46-55)

That is how Mary responded a few days after she learned she would miraculously become pregnant and give birth to the Savior of the world.

Troubled

But her impulse was to be troubled and perplexed by her encounter with an angel. In Luke 1:28 we read,

28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

How would you respond to an angelic visitation? Terrified? Bewildered? Break into a cold sweat? Faint? I think Mary being “troubled about the angel’s words and wondering about this divine greeting” is pretty rational and normal.

The angel clearly recognized this and quickly added,

Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.

Mary Would…

The angel then proceeded to tell her the following…

  • You will conceive and give birth to a son
  • You are to call him Jesus.
  • He will be great
  • He will be called the Son of the Most High
  • The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David
  • He will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever
  • His kingdom will never end.

Oh, and this will all happen by a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. And this baby you will carry for nine months and give birth to… he will be the Son of God.

Mary’s Immediate Reply

Well, we heard Mary’s response after a few days of reflection. But what was her immediate reply to this startling announcement? She said,

I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Humility. Submission. Faith. Obedience.

Out of the millennia of human history and all the billions of people who have ever lived, God chose this young girl to be the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. And even at her young age and compromised situation (she was an unmarried virgin after all), she was able to say,

I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

How About You?

Would you be able to answer in the same way? If an angel appeared to you and said you would be part of something that was, humanly speaking, impossible – and would likely cost you your reputation and possibly your life – would you be able to say,

I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Yet the truth is, Mary’s experience is not hers alone. One author put it this way,

For although her role is in one way unique, in that she alone physically nurtures and brings into the world the body and person of Jesus Christ, in another way Mary is the archetype of every Christian soul, and the whole church. (Malcolm Guite)

God desires each of us to answer his call in our lives with Mary’s words,

I am the Lord’s servant,” “May your word to me be fulfilled.”

Now, we will not be called to bear the Lord Jesus, but each of us is called to “treasure his words and the gift of his Spirit in our hearts and… in our daily lives.” (Malcolm Guite)

In this way Mary is our example and encouragement, especially during this Advent season, when we prepare for the arrival of our Savior.

The Secret

The secret to Mary’s success as well as ours, can be found in the words of the angel, for they are just as true for us as they were for Mary.

Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (v. 28)

Think about that… “The Lord is with you.”

Do you believe that? In the deepest places in your heart, mind, and soul, do you really believe that? What difference would it make in your life if you really, truly believed that God was with you? That, like Mary, you were highly favored?

The Difference

I reflected on that question and brainstormed a few answers that blessed me. Knowing God is with me gives me…

  • Hope
  • Joy
  • Comfort
  • Strength
  • Perseverance
  • Confidence
  • Humility
  • Holiness

What would you add to that list? Each of those words and ideas could be sermon unto itself, couldn’t it? What would you add?

When I visit a hospital or hospice room, one of the things I always pray for is for God to be present in that person’s life at that moment. In truth, I am really reminding them that God is already present – fully present – right there, right then, and he has promised to never leave them nor forsake them.

But that is not a comforting word for hospital and hospice rooms only. That is a truth which should impact every single day of each of our lives.

The angel tells Mary she is highly “favored.” The Greek word for “favored” is “charis,” from which we get our word “grace.” Mary was an ordinary girl, whom God favored in a unique and spectacular way.

God Is with You Too

Yet that same favor – that same grace – is offered to each of us. It is available for the taking. Beloved, the good news is that God would not have you walk through the journey of this life alone.

God is with you. During the most turbulent times of your life, God is with you. During the most mundane and boring times in your life, God is with you. When you feel you are at your lowest, God is with you. When you feel most in despair, God is with you. When you are sick and struggling physically, God is with you. When you have lost a loved one and do not know how to face the future, God is with you. When you are confused and do not know which way to turn, God is with you. You too are highly favored by God.

In Matthew 1:23 we read these words,

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s many promises made hundreds of years before his arrival. God is the God who makes and keeps all his promises. And one of those promises is Jesus – Immanuel – God with us.

John Wesley

The founder of the Methodist Church, John Wesley, was on his deathbed being comforted by those who knew and loved him. And before he died, he “gathered his strength” one last time and “cried out, ‘The best of all, God is with us!’” He died soon after. (Kenneth Collins)

None of us need to wait until our deathbeds to be comforted or strengthened by the truth that God is with us. It can and should be a living reality for each us.

Yet for that good news to impact our lives we must believe it is true. We must place our trust in God and the good news of his Son. We must give our very lives to God and this precious gospel-truth.

A Year with Jesus

This coming new year, which cannot get here fast enough, I am going to provide a weekly biblical title or description of Jesus, accompanied by some Scripture and a question or two for reflection.

It is not homework. Instead, think of it as an opportunity for you to spend time with the God who is with you and to learn more about the Savior he sent into to the world for you.

The reality is, through God’s Holy Spirit, our Lord Jesus Christ is with us each and every day. And I think spending a year reflecting on the many facets of the person and work of Jesus will do us all much and lasting good.

Joy of Every Longing Heart

Charles Wesley wrote these beautiful words,

Come, thou long-expected Jesus, born to set thy people free;

From our fears and sins release us, let us find our rest in thee.

Israel’s strength and consolation, hope of all the earth thou art;

Dear desire of every nation, joy of every longing heart.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” (v. 28)

Thanks be to God.

Walking Points

  • How would you respond to the news that God was going to do a truly miraculous work in and through your life?
  • What words or ideas would you add to the list I started in response to the question: What difference would it make in your life if you really believed God was with you? Why did you choose those words or ideas?
  • Join me in 2021 to reflect upon the person and work of Jesus Christ by looking at the titles and descriptions attributed to him in Scripture.
Dale Tedder

Dale Tedder is a United Methodist pastor in Jacksonville, Florida. If you would like to read more on godly manhood, check out Dale's book, Foundations: Key Principles for Godly Manhood.
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