In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, a descendant of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary.
The angel came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled by his words and began to wonder about the meaning of this greeting.
So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.
There are two astounding things that Mary hears in this conversation. They would both be a big surprise.
It’s kind of like later when Jesus says that it’s as easy to say “Your sins are forgiven” as it is for Him to say to a paralyzed man “Take up your mat and walk.”
Mary was told her whole life about the righteous requirements of the law. She heard rabbis quote Isaiah saying “Like sheep, we have all gone astray, each to their own way,” and other scriptures back to Adam and Eve sinning in Eden. She knew the hard struggle to follow the 613 laws of Moses and the thousands of other laws from the rabbis in order to gain God’s favor.
Then an angel calls her “Favored one.” God called Abraham righteous after He saw that Abraham would believe and trust God. Nothing has happened so far for Mary to prove herself like that.
She never needed to.
Neither did Abraham.
Throughout the scripture, you see the grace of God call someone or something by the way God sees it before it becomes so. Gabriel can call Mary “favored one” because he knows what is about to happen to her. He knows God is about to work to prove that she is the favored one that God calls her.
At the same time, she will become miraculously pregnant and the child is going to sit on David’s throne and rule. As impossible as it is for God to favor someone struggling to live in Roman-occupied Israel, as impossible as it is for a woman to become pregnant, God is going to do it all. He’s the One that bestows favor. He’s the One that gives life.
If she didn’t know what all of it meant, that was ok. It would be hard to tell if there was anything she had to do to make it happen, or if she just needed to trust God. Even the miraculous work of getting pregnant wasn’t anything she had to participate in.
God, the giver of favor and life and salvation, is a hard worker. He shows up in unexpected places and almost delights in favor and life in the most impossible situations. We can get excited that the same God that said these things is the One that is working and loving and helping us today.