“Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women”!
But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then 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 bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give 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.”
The book of Luke begins with an angelic visitation to Zacharias, who was told that his wife Elizabeth was soon to give birth to the child they had prayed and waited many years for. In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Gabriel made another visit to planet Earth. He came to Mary, a teenage girl, who was betrothed to Joseph, and he carried special news!
When the angel Gabriel addressed Mary as “highly favored one” and “blessed among women”, and told her the Lord was with her, she was alarmed. This young girl did not know what to make of his greeting. She was a simple and innocent girl who lived a Godly life of worship and prayer. She had no idea that Heaven had seen her life and that God was pleased with her. She had no idea that she was “highly favored” and chosen for a very special role, to nurture the seed of God, and to give birth to the Messiah!
It is significant that Mary is simply described here as “a virgin”. People in Bible times were normally identified by their family name, lineage, tribe or calling. Joseph is identified here as of “the house of David”, but Mary is simply describe as a virgin. There were many women in Israel with a priestly heritage, with wealth or fame, but God chose the one that pleased His heart – a person whose life was pleasing before Him. The word ‘virgin’ means “pure, unsullied, undefiled” and this is what Mary was in the sight of the Lord. This is also how Father God sees you and me, when we have entered into a relationship with Him through the cleansing blood of Jesus.
The angel Gabriel told Mary that 1) She was highly favored, 2) She was blessed, and 3) The Lord was with her. She had every reason to rejoice and be glad, but she was taken aback, and a little fearful, as she did not understand who this was and why he was in her home. However, Gabriel reassured her that nothing bad was going to happen and she had no reason to be afraid. He told her that she was chosen to bring forth the child of the Holy Spirit and He was to be called “Jesus”. The name “Jesus” comes from the Hebrew name “Yoshua” or “Yeshua” which means “God saves” (“Yahweh saves”). Jesus was God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. His life was laid down for the salvation of all who believe, His death and sacrifice a sufficient payment for the sins of all people for all time. The beautiful baby to be born would be the price paid for a sin-bound world. He was born to set us free. He died that we might live!
Young Mary did not know that she was a part of the eternal plan which covered all time and all people. The Messiah was the “Son of the Highest”. He was to rule and reign over the nations, and over the Kingdom for eternity.
Friend, this is not a typical Christmas message but it is very personally for you from the heart of Abba.
There are a few things the Holy Spirit has impressed upon my heart for you, and they are five reasons why you can rejoice:
1. You are blessed because you belong to Jesus and He is always with you. If you are born again and carry His name (Christ-ian) you are truly blessed! Every promise and blessing in the Bible is for you, and there is no limit to the heavenly goodness you can know and enjoy in your life and walk in the Lord. Blessed are you among women. Blessed are you among men!
2. You are highly favored. God has stamped ‘special’ upon your life. He has decreed open doors and good plans for you. Begin to believe for His favor, expect it, and walk in it. It is your portion when you are a son or daughter of the most high God. There is favor following you and going before you!
3. God sees you as pure and holy. He sees you through the blood of Jesus. Although the enemy may constantly try to remind you of past sins and try to resurrect the old ‘you’, God sees you through the cleansing blood of the Messiah. He sees you as a new creature in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) and as the righteousness of God in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). You may have many educational or career achievements and qualifications, but the one that is most important to the Lord is BA (Born Again!). He values and treasures you because of who you are in Christ and the price He paid to win your heart.
4. God’s plans for you are bigger than any you could have for yourself. They involve eternal things. Mary probably had no other ambitions for her life than to marry Joseph and raise his children. These were wonderful and noble plans, but God had even greater things for her. She was to be the vessel the baby King would grow and develop in. She was to be a nurturer, teacher and mother of the Prince of peace.
5. If you allow the Messiah to rule and reign over your life, there will be no end to the peace and fulfillment you can know as a subject of His Kingdom. God is seeking hearts such as Mary’s, which are submitted to His Word. He seeks hearts in which He is enthroned and lifted high.
Friend, God is birthing something new in you. All the difficulties, disappointments and frustrations of this year may have had you questioning God and asking Him “Why?” He may have permitted certain situations in our lives because He is birthing something new. These birthing pains will bring forth the perfect work, the new creation that only the Holy Spirit can bring to fulfillment in you and me. As you look back over the months of this year, you will see that you have grown in depth and maturity. You have grown in your hunger for the Spirit and for the Word. You have fallen more in love with Jesus and love to please His heart. There was a seed taking root and developing within you – an embryo taking life and shape! There is a new season awaiting you around the corner. God is taking you to a higher place. It is a place of revelation, of dreams and visions, and angelic visitations. It is a place of answered prayers and breakthrough in many areas of your life. You have every reason to rejoice!
May the Spirit of the Living Lord fill your heart and life with His joy and peace this Christmas season. Thank Him for all the reasons you have to rejoice! You are highly favored and His very special chosen child!
Minoli Haththotuwa, 12 December 2011