March 16, 2007

God looks for people who will say 'Yes'

Yesterday I read about Hannah who wanted a baby and prayed for its birth. Today my reading moves forward a few hundred years to Mary, who was single, not likely thinking about babies, but finds out that she is about to become pregnant with the Son of God.

The virgin birth is a cardinal doctrine of Christian faith. If Jesus was born in the usual manner, He could not be God in human flesh. If He were not God in human flesh, He would have sin of His own to answer for (since sin is part of the human condition), and He could not die for the sins of others. If He could not die for our sin, we would have to pay its price ourselves.

Just an insert here—sin, by Bible definition, is not just the big things like murder and robbery, but simply turning from God to do our own thing, not believing what God says to form our own views. If anyone thinks we are not all sinners, they already have turned from God because God says we are!

Mary was also a sinner, but she was also trusting God and not turning her back on Him. She believed what He said and lived according to His teachings. Even so, I can’t imagine how she felt when the angel came to tell her that she was about to become a mother, and no ordinary mother. This baby would be born without her ‘knowing’ a man (they used euphemisms back then too), and was reminded that “with God nothing will be impossible.”

Mary was in a tough spot. Not only would she face the stigma of a baby conceived out of wedlock, but Joseph would know that the child was not his. She would be accused of adultery, an offense at that time that was punishable by stoning.

The Bible doesn’t say she had any choice in the matter, however, her remarkable response showed her yielded spirit. She was not set against God nor determined to go her own way, even with this. Instead, she said, “Let it be to me according to Your word.”

Maybe the Lord picked her because He knew she was a godly young woman, one who trusted Him. The Bible says she had found favor with God, but that does not mean she was perfect. Some think she was sinless like her Son, but there is no biblical evidence that Mary was any different from any other person, other than she believed in God and obeyed Him. She had fears, doubts, joys and sorrows. She was born with a sinful bent just like the rest of us, but God had shaped her life and worked in her heart. He made her ready to be the one who would have this experience, and ready to respond to the news with a willing heart.

What I learn from Mary is just that. God brings things into my life, and while none are even close to being this momentous, He still wants that attitude of heart that says, “Whatever You ask, whatever You want; let it be to me according to Your Word.”

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