Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Luke 1:26-29

Luke 1:26-29
And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was being sent by God into a city of Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin while being betrothed to a man named Joseph out of the house of David.  And the name of the virgin is Mary.  And after coming to her he said, “Greetings – having been shown kind grace – the Lord is with you.” And she was being perplexed by the word and she reasoned what sort of greeting this might be.

Thoughts for Today

First Thought:

In this passage we continue to see the unusual work of God.  God goes to a woman in Nazareth.  In the Jesus culture of the day, Nazareth was the wrong side of the tracks.  Ruffians and criminals came from Nazareth.  Rioters and insurgents came from Nazareth.  Good Law-abiding people didn’t come from Nazareth.  Yet, God sends Gabriel to a young virgin in Nazareth.  Just like God worked in a woman who was well past the age of childbearing in Elizabeth, God will bring His own Son into the world through a woman in Mary who comes from the wrong neighborhood.  God doesn’t care where we are from or what circumstance we find ourselves.  He can always use us if we are open to being used.

Have you ever felt as if you weren’t special enough to be used by God?  How does this show our human nature and our inability to see life through God’s eyes?

Second Thought:

The angel Gabriel comes to Mary.  He greets her.  He acknowledges that she is in the state of being shown kind grace.  Do you notice the tense and voice of the participle that Gabriel uses?  Gabriel says, “Having been shown kind grace.”  This is a perfect passive participle.  Perfect participles almost always indicate action coming from God.  The kind grace that is falling upon Mary is from her Heavenly Father.  Furthermore, the fact that this is a perfect tense participle tells us that her living in grace started in the past.  Her state of living in kind grace continues into the present.  It will continue into the future.  While there are many who think that Gabriel is being shown kind grace because she is about to bear the Son of God, I think that is a bit too literal for me.  I think Gabriel is highlighting a truth that we all can hear and enjoy.  Through Jesus, our relationship with God can overcome the sin that is in our lives.  Even from the beginning of the world God planned to save us from our sin.  We all live in a state of kind grace that we neither earn nor deserve.  Yes, Mary is shown kind grace.  But in Christ, we all share that status.

Have you ever considered that this participle might not be the famous title as we typical hear it taught?  What is the meaning we can glean if rather than a title this participle is seen as a state of existence?  {For those of you who know Greek, note that this is a circumstantial participle, not a substantive participle.}

Third Thought:

Note Mary’s reaction.  She is perplexed.  In other words, she doesn’t get it.  There are two significant points that I’d like to mention here.

  • First, Mary doesn’t understand the message.  Remember that Zechariah didn’t understand it either.  Twice now when Gabriel came to announce God’s plan in action the people to whom he spoke didn’t understand.  So often we wish God would come and tell us His plan in person.  But that assumes we can even understand it.  Quite honestly, we as human beings are better understanding in retrospect than we are understanding before the fact.
  • Second, I think the fact that she is perplexed points us back to understanding the greeting as a circumstance rather than a title.  Gabriel tells her that she is being shown kind grace.  Remember her status.  She is a nobody living in a town with a bad reputation.  She would have great difficulty seeing that circumstance as worthy of being shown kind grace.

Do you ever let your worldly circumstance mean more to you than the way that God sees you?  Why is this dangerous?  Do you think that if God came to you and explained His plan for you that you would even understand it?  How does your answer speak to the idea of humbleness and humility?

Passage for Tomorrow: Luke 1:30-33
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