Origins of Grace


23 December 2022

It is the most famous teen pregnancy in the history of humanity.

The quiet life of a village girl is interrupted when an unexpected visitor – an angel, in fact. Not the infantile, adorable, red cheeked cherubs that occupy the collective imagination, but a terrifying, holy angel who must constantly remind those he visits, “do not be afraid!”

And of course, she was afraid. The angel told her that she was favoured. God had shown her, was in fact pouring, blessings over her. Because Mary – a child herself - was about to conceive a child.

Although she was betrothed to marry, Mary was still a virgin. How could this be?

We talk a lot about the virgin birth, because it is at the crux of our Christian faith.

It is grace: the moment the holy, untouchable, invisible God becomes human, touchable, visible. It is God’s grace to humanity, His kindness to a people so desperately in need of a King to lead them, a Messiah to redeem them.

And the virgin birth helps us understand that regardless of how righteous Mary and Joseph were, or how royal their lineage, they were still not good enough to bring the Saviour into the world.

No, Jesus’ coming is the work of God alone – He chose the time, He chose the place, and He even chose Mary as His vessel.

What incredible grace – a gift undeserved. Not only to Mary, but to all of creation.

To Mary, God showed incredible grace. Mary’s incredible faith – that she believed and humbly submitted to God’s plan – is a gift of grace (Ephesians 2:8).

Mary’s great faith is demonstrated in her song of praise. “Mary’s Magnificat” is a song of great faith and theological truth – there’s no stereotyping this teenager as an uneducated farm girl. This beautiful, God glorifying song is full of the Scriptures. In the short ten verses that contain hr song, there are over 15 references to Old Testament Scriptures.

Mary believes God’s promises are true – they were forefront in her mind and written in her heart. And she had faith that God would keep His promi.

Mary declares, “from now on all generations will call me blessed.”

And we must call her Blessed – and not just because she had the privilege of carrying Jesus in her womb. We call her blessed, and not just because she nursed, held and kissed the precious face of God.

We call her blessed, and not just because she raised the Son of God, caring for Him, providing for His needs, and loving Him as only a mother can.

Mary’s greatest blessing was in receiving the gift of faith, through God’s grace. And in doing so, she received the blessing – not of blessing of being called the mother of God, but the loved daughter of God. Her blessing was not in having the son of God in her womb for a season, but the Spirit of God dwelling in her for a lifetime.

Later in Luke’s gospel (Luke 11), a woman, after hearing Jesus’ teaching, cries out “Blessed is the woman who gave birth to you, and nursed you.”

Of course Jesus agrees, His mother was blessed. But, he clarifies, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

And so we too receive this abundant gift of grace, when we hear the word of God and obey it. We receive faith, through God’s grace. And in so doing, we also receive the blessing of our sins forgiven, being called loved children of God. Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and obey it.

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