In Luke chapter 1, the angel Gabriel greets Mary: “O favored one, the Lord is with you!” He then continues with: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
It is rare for us Protestants to linger long over Mary, the mother of Jesus. Whether in reading or meditating over Scripture, we quickly pass over her.
For those of us working to keep the gospel at center, taking a longer look at Mary’s place in our theology and practical living could yield much fruit. After all, part of internalizing the gospel is understanding how God brought it forth through real flesh and blood people. The incarnation happened because God favored a woman and chose her to be a real live mother to his Son!
MARY WAS FAVORED BY THE LORD
We may not fully comprehend how it is that God “favors” someone, but we cannot deny that the words came out of the angel Gabriel: “O favored one,” and “for you have found favor with God.” God the Father loved Mary, the young lady, living in Nazareth. Out of all the women in the history of the world, he chose her to be the mother of his Son.
This particular word, favored, used here in Luke 1:28 (KJV says “highly favoured”), is used in only one other place in the Bible, and that is in Ephesians 1:6. It means to bestow favor upon, to freely give, or to show kindness to, endued with grace. The Latin Vulgate translates it into “full of grace” which has given some the impression that Mary inherently had this special grace. But that is not the case. Mary was given a special grace from God. In the wise and secret council of God he determined that out of all the women in the history of mankind, that he would give a special endowment of favor to Mary—a poor, young, virgin girl from the lineage of David.
Matthew Henry says of Mary: “We have here an account given of the mother of our Lord, of whom he was to be born, whom, though we are not to pray to, yet we ought to praise God for.”
My question is: If Mary found favor with God, why does she not find favor with us? Why not give honor where honor is due, as Scripture teaches (Rom. 13:7)?
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