Highly Favored One
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.”
For context, read Luke 1:26-56
Mary is one of the most important women featured in Scripture. Unfortunately, her importance has often been misunderstood and in some faith communities she has been elevated to a status that places her almost as an equal to God. This is not a correct biblical interpretation. We will see as we study Mary that she is not worthy of our worship but she is worthy of our respect, admiration, and imitation.
Mary was a Jewish woman who was pledged to be married to Joseph, a man from the line of King David. Her virginity is emphasized several times in Luke and also in Matthew. Just as prophesied, Jesus was to be born of a virgin. At that time, many Jewish women married young so Mary was probably only 15 or 16 which makes her spiritual maturity even more remarkable.
In Luke 1:26, the angel Gabriel appears to Mary and announces that she is “highly favored.” Highly favored? She was a poor Jewish girl engaged to marry an equally poor carpenter. They were just an ordinary Jewish family. And yet, she was chosen to give birth to the Messiah, the One her people had been waiting for! Why did God choose her and not someone else?
Only God knows the mind of God and He chose her according to His good will. The term “highly favored one” means “greatly graced” and “grace” means “unmerited favor.” Mary did not do anything that deserved to be honored in this way. And yet, God made a wise choice in choosing the mother of His Son. As we study Mary, we see numerous examples of her deep, personal faith in God and her devotion to her Son and Savior.
The first evidence of her faith is in Luke 1:26-38. When the angel Gabriel announces that she is highly favored and will conceive and give birth to God’s son, she is not without fear and questions. Verse 29 says that she was “greatly troubled and wondered what kind of greeting this could be.” In verse 34, she asks the angel how all of this would happen because she was a virgin. But even in Mary’s questions about the process and her initial nervousness about what was going on, Mary was not doubting the validity of the angel’s claims. After the angel calms her fears and answers her questions, Mary fully submits to the Lord’s plans. She declared, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (vs. 38).
As we study Mary’s life after that pivotal moment, we see her continued submission to God’s will and her obedience to Him being lived out as she parented Jesus. Even though she knew her fiancé may not have understood whose child she was carrying and her future marriage may have been in jeopardy, she said yes to God’s mission for her life. After her visit to see Elizabeth who was also miraculously pregnant, Mary wrote a song of praise that demonstrates her deep understanding of Scripture and her faith in God and His promises.
After Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph faithfully adhered to the requirements of Jewish law. They had Jesus circumcised on the 8th day, they named Him Jesus as they were commanded to do, they visited the temple 33 days after He was born for His dedication. They heeded God’s warning about King Herod and fled to Egypt to protect Jesus. They faithfully journeyed to Jerusalem for the Passover every year.
She faithfully followed Jesus even if she didn’t fully understand how God was working out His plan. For example, when Jesus was 12, Mary and Joseph thought they lost Jesus in the caravan home from Passover. When they finally found Him in the temple, Jesus said, “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But Mary and Joseph did not fully comprehend what He was saying. Still, Mary, “treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:49-51). She pondered the works of the Lord. Even when she didn’t understand how God was going to use Jesus to save the world, she believed that He would.
Mary followed Jesus even to the cross. How painful it must have been for her to watch her Son suffer and die the gruesome death He endured. John 19:25-27 tells how Jesus looked down from the cross, saw his mother there, and entrusted her into the care of His disciple, John. Mary remained faithful even after Jesus’s ascension to heaven. Acts 1:14 places Mary with the disciples “constantly in prayer” waiting for the Holy Spirit and God’s direction.
The WORD about women in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is that Mary was “highly favored” because of her faithful devotion and humble submission to the work of God in her life. It was her God-given mission to raise the Son of God. Scripture testifies that she faithfully completed that mission.
Mary was just a woman, just a mom. She is not worthy of our worship. But she is certainly a worthy role model. Sisters, you have not been called to be the mother of our Lord and Savior. But you do have a mission from the Lord. Will you remain His “faithful servant”?
How does Mary’s story encourage you? How can you follow her example of faithful service and devotion to Jesus in your own life?
PrayJesus, I want to follow You all of my days. I am Your humble servant. Show me how You want to use me for Your purposes. May Your will be done in my life. Amen.