Imagine being Mary when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Fear not, for you have found favor with God.”
There’s a passage in 1 Samuel 3 that has stuck with me for a while now. It’s referring to the beginning of young Samuel’s time ministering in the temple under the observation of the priest Eli.
“The word of the Lord was rare in those days. There was no frequent vision.”
That passage struck me when I read it a while back. Call me naive, but it struck me as strange to think that there were times of silence in Scripture, perhaps even times of spiritual drought among God’s people. When I really think about it though, it seems that this was not only a common thing—Scripture is full of times like this.
Consider Noah. During the time he was living, it was said that every intention and thought of man’s heart was only evil continually. Imagine being Noah. If anyone was waiting for a word from the Lord, it was him.
Think of Abraham, being 75 when the Lord called him. Or Moses, who fled to Midian and lived there for 40 years before receiving a word from the Lord. For that matter, think of Moses’ mother, sending him out in a basket on the Nile river.
Just go down the line of major Biblical characters and look at how many of them waited. Joseph, who was sold into slavery and eventually imprisoned; David, who literally cried out for the Lord to answer him; Samson, who went from being filled with the Spirit of God to being emptied of it, and later being captured and having his eyes gouged out.
Think of Jonah. Or Daniel. Or Hosea, who of all people told God’s people to “wait for your God continually.” Think of any of the prophets, or any one of God’s people who kept hearing about a Messiah who would one day come and restore all things.
Mary, I believe, was one of those people. And now, here she was, in the presence of God’s messenger who had come to tell her that the long awaited Messiah would be conceived in her.
The fact that a living being can be conceived in a woman is something indescribable on its own. The fact that Christ was born this way is so unthinkable that only God could’ve ordained it. It seems almost blasphemous to think of it as a holy thing. And yet, it was the holiest of things.
The band Sixpence None the Richer has a song about the crucifixion called “Beautiful, Scandalous Night,” and I think they hit the nail right on the head by calling God’s Love for us Scandalous. It’s so scandalous that it goes beyond being merely unbelievable and reaches the point of making some feel ashamed to even consider the thought of it. Because none of us would’ve done it that way. None of us would’ve taken something so divine and sealed it in something so prone to corruption, that being human flesh. But he has chosen “what is foolish in the world to shame the wise,” and “what is weak in the world to shame the strong.”
This moment in Scripture, which is referred to as The Annunciation, is the beginning of the most scandalous redemption story ever told.
And “Fear not”; this story is true.