What do we mean when we talk about the “favor of God?”
The house you’ve always wanted goes into foreclosure and you buy it for a steal. Your kids bring their report cards home and it’s straight A’s. You find out that a long lost relative left you a tidy sum of money.
Many people may think that God’s favor is something like that. When life seems to break your way, it’s easy to think, “God is really smiling down on me now. He must really love me.”
When we turn to the New Testament, though, we get a splash of cold water. The favor of God doesn’t always line up with great circumstances. Case in point: Mary.
When the angel Gabriel shows up to announce the first Christmas to Mary in Luke 1, he tells her twice that she has God’s favor. But her situation sure doesn’t look like it.
Gabriel has just told her she is going to be pregnant out of wedlock in a culture where this isn’t just frowned upon but could have been punishable by death. The man she loves, Joseph, is probably not going to understand the situation or believe her bizarre explanation and might leave her. She’s already poor, and if Joseph rejects her, she’ll be destitute. She might have to beg for a living.
So here’s Mary — financially insolvent, with a ruined reputation, her most important relationship in tatters.
Maybe you can relate if you sense no joy or good cheer this Christmas season, but dread. Your life doesn’t look like one “blessed and highly favored.” For you, Christmas only reminds you of all the good you don’t have in your life.
If that’s you, then Mary’s circumstances are particularly relevant, because she supposedly has the favor of God in the midst of all her mess. How?
Because a Son is being born to her — a Son, the angel says, whose name will be “Jesus,” meaning that He will save His people from their sins. Like all of us, Mary’s main problem was a severed relationship with God. Jesus was coming to restore that.
But Jesus was coming to do more than merely save from sin. Gabriel points out that He’ll also rule from the throne of David (Luke 1:32). It’s easy to miss how big that promise is. David’s throne symbolized the restoration of worldwide peace and blessing — a condition called shalom.
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Source: Baptist Press