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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#953. Highly favoured - Luke 1:26-28 (6/12/23)

This Christmas, I thought that we would revisit in more detail some the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story, the truths and the God of the Christmas story.


Today, we reflect on the amazing grace and favour shown to Mary and that is also shown to each of us in Christ.


You can listen to this devotional at:


‘In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ (Luke 1:26-28)

As with Elizabeth, Mary is another very unlikely candidate for her role as mother of God! An unmarried virgin is chosen to give birth to God’s Son! The Angel Gabriel greets her with the words: “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”


What does it mean to say that Mary is highly favoured? Does it infer that Mary is so righteous and good that God has chosen her out of all of the other good women that didn’t quite meet the standards? Is it that God looked down through history and saw Mary’s character and good response and so chose her for this? Although Mary is clearly devout and righteous woman, she is not chosen because of her righteouness. In fact, her sinfulness and need of salvation is revealed in her song:

‘“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”’ (Luke 1:47-48).

Mary is aware that she is not worthy of this honour. She knows her ‘humble state’; humble (tapeínōsis) means humiliation, low estate and abject condition. This is why Gabriel begins with ‘greetings’ (chaírō) which means to rejoice and be glad as he seeks to encourage her as she - a humble woman - meets with an angel of God.

Gabriel is quick to add to his greeting, ‘you who are highly favoured’. Favour (charitóō) means to receive act of kindness freely given. Mary is unworthy of the promises and role that she is about to play.


Response

Like Mary, if we are Christians, may we treasure in our heart this greeting as spoken over us also. God greets us with joy; God has given us favour - grace - in Christ. May fear, humiliation and our disqualification be replaced with amazed joy. May we treasure and ponder the mercy of God toward us. Mary was chosen to conceive and give birth to Christ; we, if we will receive the gospel, have been chosen to know and be filled with the presence of Christ - we are ‘highly favoured’ and ‘The Lord is with [us]’. Let’s pray:

“Lord Jesus, as you sent Gabriel to Mary to speak of your grace in her life, so your Word, speaks greetings and favour over me in Christ. Help me, Holy Spirit, to treasure your love toward me, your unworthy servant. Amen”
 

COMMUNITY GROUP NOTES AND STUDY


1. Notices

It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.

Very importantly, let’s be praying and inviting to our carol service on 10th December.


2. Icebreaker

How has God been speaking to you from His Word this week and how has this helped you?


3. Worship together

Let’s begin our time together by lifting our eyes and hearts to worship our great God. Perhaps you have readings and songs that you would like to use together. Let’s be open to the gifts that the Spirit wants to give in order to encourage one another.


4. Study and pray together

This Christmas, we will revisit in more detail some the teaching surrounding Jesus’ birth that we have looked at in our Luke series. I’ve entitled this teaching series, ‘Mary Treasured up These Things’ (from Luke 2:19) because my hope and prayer is that, like Mary, we will treasure the story the truths and the God of the Christmas story.


Please read Luke 2:1-19

  1. What are the sorts of good and bad things that we can treasure and ponder at Christmas rather than Christ?

  2. What are the various things that Mary may have been treasuring and pondering?

  3. To 'treasure' (syntēréō) means to preserve, to protect, defend, treasure, preserve in memory. What truths about Jesus are taught in Luke Chapter 1:32-33, for example, that we are to treasure?

  4. To 'Ponder' (symbállō) means to encounter, meet with - to reflect in a way that encounters the God of truth. How could you make time to ponder the truths of the Christmas story this year?

  5. SIV - Why will treasuring and pondering truth make you effective as a witness?

  6. SIV - Who do you plan to invite to the carol service?

  7. SIV - Do we have any stories of how we have ‘Served, Invested, and inVited’ this week?

  8. SIV - Lets now pray together that, this week, we will have opportunities to SIV.


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