And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. – Luke 1:26-27
It is a simple scene. Mary, a virgin who has never known a man in an intimate way, is in her farm house in Nazareth when an angel comes to visit.
We do not know exactly how her days were spent. I guess, much like any other poor, farm girl, she had lots of chores and other duties around the house and land. However, we learn, Mary is also engaged to be married to a man named Joseph. The anticipation of the upcoming wedding surely filled her thoughts as she went about her daily chores. She probably had a joy in her step and smile on her face in everything she did. She was, no doubt, truly anticipating that exciting and life changing event of marriage that was coming soon. Little did she know how greatly her life, and the lives of all men, were about to be changed!
We just met Gabriel a few months before in the temple in Jerusalem. The grandeur of the beauty of the temple building and fixtures certainly set a beautiful scene for his visit to Zacharias. Now, Gabriel comes to a small agricultural town in the region of Galilee of which the Jewish leaders of the day held great contempt. But it isn’t that the way of God? He brings the beauty to any place the good news of Jesus Christ is proclaimed!
And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. – Luke 1:28-30
According to Jewish customs, men were not supposed to talk or even acknowledge women they did not know. Often, husbands did not even greet their wives in any manner of exuberance. Yet, Gabriel pronounces a joyful greeting and offers high compliments right from the start! We can see why Mary was so astonished at his introduction.
The content of the angel’s greeting and reassurance drip with the grace and mercy of God. He tells her that the Lord is with her. These same words were spoken to Gideon when he was called a mighty man of valor even before he fought his first battle (Judges 6:12). His valor was pronounced before his actions because God was going to bless him. Mary is pronounced as highly favored, not for what she has done or for who she is, but for what God plans to do!
It is comforting to know that our identity is not based upon our family heritage or our works. Our identity is in Jesus Christ. Our Heavenly Father loves us so much that He counts the righteousness of His perfect Son to us. He sees us as holy. It is an added blessing when God moves in our lives and brings His blessings into fruitfulness. We must be like Mary and “cast these things in our mind” for we are not worthy of the least of the blessings of God. We need to not become prideful in our blessing but remain humble servants of our Lord!