18 April 2013
The following meditation is about Jesus' birth. God's people lived under the law, given by Moses. But When Christ came to the world he brought grace (unmerited favor) and truth.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
Jesus' birth announcement proclaims the beginning of a new covenant. The new covenant speaks of God's grace.
Luke 1:28 The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.
The new covenant invites us to rely solely on Jesus' finished work at the cross. His favor cannot be earned by good works or by self-righteousness. That is the reason why Mary did not have to do anything in order to receive the angel's visitation. When the angel greeted her, he proclaimed to her God's favor.
After the angel greeted Mary with words of favor, she was greatly troubled.
Luke 1:29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.
Mary was troubled by the greeting of favor because she didn't understand the meaning of "favor." Mary was born under the old covenant. The old covenant was established after Moses brought the Israelites out from Egypt. In the old covenant, God established blessings for those who would follow his commandments and curses for those who would not. No one would be blessed by favor or by grace. Perhaps Mary thought her works didn't make her worthy of the angel's visitation. But The angel's visitation had nothing to do with her performance or self-righteousness. It had everything to do with God's favor.
Luke 1:31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end." 34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"
When the angel told her about the miracle of conceiving Jesus, Mary looked at herself. She thought of her flaws, her age, her civil status and wonder how will this be?---Mary was not punished for her doubt because she was under God's favor! The angel answers to her doubtful question in the following way:
The angel said: Luke 1:35 "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.
The previous verse is clearly telling us that Jesus' conception had nothing to do with men's effort or righteousness. It was all based on God's favor! God's work!
Jesus' birth's announcement records God's will for us to know that the new covenant was about to take place. In this new covenant, men's effort was no longer needed to please God. That is the reason why the angel didn't gave Mary more laws to follow. He didn't gave her another lesson in the 10 commandments. Neither he gave her a link to a parenting website. Instead, he explained to her everything that the Holy Spirit was going to do in her! Most importantly, he gave her the good news of salvation apart from works! The lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world was coming!
Luke 1:38 "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May your word to me be fulfilled." Then the angel left her.
Mary was humbled to receive God's favor. She recognized the work of God in her life. Mary wanted to serve God by letting her life be a testimony of God's favor.
Mary, in her song exalts God's work and recognizes her condition as undeserving of His favor. She sees herself as someone humble and hungry, which is someone who has nothing to offer. Her song shows God as merciful for blessing her with salvation. She describes the self-righteous as proud and rich. The self-righteous are those who think they deserve blessings and salvation because of their works.
Luke 1:46 And Mary said: "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."
Greetings of unmerited favor
Today, God's word is a greeting of unmerited favor to us. In his word, Jesus is telling us that We do not need to live under the old covenant any more! Jesus died on the cross so we can find unmerited favor. We do not need to work for our salvation. We do not need to perform to be blessed. Jesus blood was shed for the forgiveness of our sin. Our sins were punished in the body of our Lord Jesus so we could be blessed.
If Mary was called highly favored when Jesus had not yet died for our sins , how much more favor have we found today because of Jesus death at the cross? We are much more favored!