The wind blew gently that afternoon as it did so many others. Nothing about it was extraordinary. It was just a usual day full of usual happenings. A young Jewish girl named Mary was grinding wheat and barley into flour, preparing food for the evening. Her father was off to work, her siblings tending to chores, and her mother away at the market.
The following is an adaptation from God Breaks His Silence, a Christmas study guide. It follows the narrative of Luke 1:26-38. Read Before the First Christmas and When God Speaks, We Should Believe in the series.
Although alone at the house, no one was concerned about her safety. It was a small town with little noise, only the sound of young children playing and running about. There were only 2,000 souls in the whole city. You could easily miss it passing by in a caravan. Luke referred to it as Galilee. People knew Galilee. But this place, Nazareth, where was that?
Israel had not heard from God in 400 years. There had been no angelic appearances in 500 years, and no miracles in 800 years. Not until sixth months ago when Gabriel appeared to Zechariah, gave him God’s Word and a miraculous conception. Now, on this usual day in this usual city as this usual girl was tending to her usual chores, God would do it again. This time, an even more miraculous conception would occur.
A Common Girl
“Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked, when Philip told him about Christ (Jn. 1:46). Nazareth was such an agricultural place and not particularly known for anything good. It was plain. So plain that not even a fisherman thought anything worth while would come out of it.
Mary, a teenage girl, was the only thing competing with Nazareth for insignificance. She lived in it. Her four letter name was so common in her day that we have more than seven in the New Testament alone. Luke tells us Zechariah was “righteous before God” (Lk. 1:6). But of Mary, he only says she was a virgin (Lk. 1:27). In the same verse, Luke says more about Mary’s husband-to-be than her.
When the angel appeared to this common girl, she was not in the temple performing dignified priestly duties. Rather, she was at home making dinner. No one was relying on her for any spiritual purposes, only the work of her hands. And there were only a few who needed that.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Lk. 1:26-28)
An Uncommon Word
Mary must have had her back to the angel when he spoke because it was his greeting that troubled her, not his appearance. “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” This was not your typical “hello”!
Describing her as “favored one” was pretty significant. It didn’t imply that she had or did anything in particular to warrant God’s goodness. Rather, it implied that God, out of His goodness, wanted her to be favored. He intended to make her the mother of our Lord. Now that is significant!
God broke His silence yet again. This time, the word was that she would have a son and name Him Jesus. He would not be a common boy. He would be the “Son of the Most High” and “of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk. 1:31-33). Gabriel explained how it would happen (Lk. 1:35) because nothing is impossible with God (Lk. 1:37). In this promise, Mary simply trusted. “Let it be to me according to your word,” she said. No objections. No complaints. Mary trusted God’s Word.
But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Lk. 1:29-38)
When God Speaks, We Should Trust
Mary, a lowly Jewish girl from an undistinguished town, modeled the proper way to respond to God’s Word—with faith. Although she knew it was extraordinary, she trusted God to make possible the impossible conception of a child in her womb. She was graced by God to be favored for all time.
How do you respond to God’s Word when you hear or read it? Do you trust in His promises when reality says otherwise? Do you stand confidently and lean into the unknown? God can do the impossible. When He says He will do something, He will do it because nothing thwarts His plan (Is. 14:27).
With Christmas coming, consider how you will respond when God speaks—is it with doubt or faith?