What was it like to hear this word from the Lord?
Maybe Mary had heard of her cousin, Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy. But did she know of the angelic message that accompanied it? Did she know that the Lord, who had been silent for some 400 years, was once again giving His Word?
Perhaps she did, but then again, perhaps not. Elizabeth did keep herself in seclusion for five months after learning she was pregnant (Luke 1:24). Perhaps, then, Mary had only known God as the God of her fathers – the God who once spoke through prophets, but had long since seemingly gone dark.
And then here He was, bursting onto the scene with the most unlikely of pronouncements to the most unlikely of young women. And then here was Mary, hearing news that was exhilarating, but surely also shocking and frightening, for she was a virgin engaged to be married. But she would become pregnant by the power of God, and her son would be the One. The One long awaited. The One who had been promised. The One who would change everything.
How does one respond to such news? Mary’s response is as brief as it is telling:
“I am the Lord’s slave,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:35).
So here I sit, reading these words with awe and wonder. I myself often question God at a moment’s notice when the circumstances in which I find myself are not what I would have envisioned, and so I myself draw a deep breath when I see such a statement from a teenage girl.
In reflecting on her statement, there are two lessons that come to mind for me, and perhaps helpful for you as well:
1. We learn about God’s Word.
What is God’s Word? God’s Word is His pronouncement. It is the way things are, or the way they will be. When God gives us His Word, He is not asking for our opinion, our reaction, or our evaluation. He is simply relaying to us what He has decreed and decided about the nature of truth, life, or even our individual circumstances. This is His Word, and it stands forever.
But how many times do I treat the pronouncement of God like a suggestion from God? How many times do I try and find the wiggle room or the loophole in what God has said to me in His Word? My goodness, the arrogance that lives in me to call into question the Word of God.
2. We learn about our relation to God’s Word.
What, then, is the proper reaction to God’s Word? We find it in Mary’s statement: I am the slave, or servant, of God. When we see ourselves rightly, we come to view God’s pronouncements rightly.
Or to put it the opposite way – our pushback against God’s Word is a failure to see ourselves as the servants of God. I stand today, as do you if you are a Christian, as the purchased and redeemed children of God. That identity comes with both incredible freedom, but freedom that works itself out in the midst of servitude. We live on the earth primarily as the children of God, who delight in doing the will of God. And when God decrees something, it is an opportunity for us to reaffirm who we are in light of that decree.
We are His servants. And the only posture for a servant is to joyously abide by the decree of the King.