“In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.” Luke 1:26-29 (ESV)
As the time of year approaches that we celebrate the coming and birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, its important to spend some time meditating on the events and people involved.
In this verse, Luke introduces us to Mary. Jewish sources state that betrothal usually occurred when a girl was between 12 and 13 years old. So if this had happened today, Mary would have been in junior high school, or perhaps the sixth grade.
We don’t learn explicitly what special characteristics Mary possessed that caused God to choose her out of all the young women in Israel at that time. However, there are some clues in the story that help illuminate what some of those characteristics might have been.
The first clue is her response to the presence of the angel. The only mention of fear is Gabriel’s statement telling her not to be afraid. There is no clear mention that she actually is fearful. This is surprising since Scripture often records the fear of grown men at the sight of angels.
The second clue is what troubles Mary. It is not the fact that an angel is standing before her. What troubles Mary is what the angel said.
Scripture tells us that she tried to discern the type of greeting Gabriel gave.
In spite of her young age, Mary possessed enough faith and strength to withstand the appearance of the mighty angel Gabriel. She also possessed the presence of mind to actually question and seek to discern the meaning of his greeting.
I’m not sure I’d be able to do that if Gabriel appeared to me.
As we enter into this special season of celebration, let us follow the example of Mary and try to discern what the Lord is trying to speak to us through His Spirit.
Prayer: Lord teach me what it means to have the faith of a child and discern Your message to me.