by Rev. Andrew Eckert
Scripture: Luke 1:26-38
The Blessed Virgin Mary leaves no doubt what she thinks of herself. She is given the greatest honor in history by becoming the Mother of God. Yet she does not call herself the Queen of heaven or some other boasting title.
No, Mary calls herself a slave of God, the Lord's servant. She is far below her Maker. She is unworthy of honor in herself. As a slave, she humbly accepts the will of her Master.
Mary recognizes that the honor she is given is purely by grace. Gabriel calls her highly favored, "full of grace." God's grace is not deserved, otherwise it would not be grace at all. By definition, grace is a gift. The very fact that she is called 'full of grace' means that Mary is a sinner. Nevertheless, God comes to give her this enormous blessing.
There is no thought in her mind that she has earned God's favor. If she had believed herself worthy, God would have passed her by and gone to some other virgin. But He did not. Mary was the one.
We may wonder why God sent Gabriel to this meek virgin from Nazareth. Gabriel, the mighty angel of God, was given the simple task of speaking the message of God to the lowly maiden.
At first, this seems demeaning to Gabriel, or a waste of his potential. All the holy angels are strong, and Gabriel is particularly powerful. He has abilities far beyond our understanding. Why use him as a mere messenger boy?
The angels do not look at things this way. By being this messenger, Gabriel becomes the carrier of the Word of God. What is more holy, more important, more glorious, than this Word? Through this Mighty Word, the Son of God takes flesh in Mary's womb. Gabriel becomes the messenger for one of the greatest events and deepest mysteries in all history: the Incarnation, God becoming Man.
It is not only Mary that is highly favored. Gabriel is greatly honored, also.
Today, God's messenger speaks to you. He is not a mighty, sinless angel, but a weak, sin-filled man. Yet to him is given the great honor of carrying God's message, by preaching the Word of grace.
You, like Mary, listen and ponder the message. If you think yourself worthy, then the grace will pass you by. You must think yourself a sinner, and think yourself undeserving, or else there is no grace for you.
But if you, like Mary, receive the Word with repentant humility, then how awesome is this Word! How mysterious and incredible! Would you not call yourself "slave," or any name, no matter how demeaning, just to receive this Word? Would you not endure any shame, any humiliation, just to listen to God's grace that honors even the lips of angels?
Truly, every hearer who listens to God's Word as Mary did receives Christ Himself. You become bearers of Christ. For the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and the Most High overshadows you, and the Lord Jesus is with you.
How can holy God dwell with man? He has done it by becoming Man. The eternal Deity took human flesh. The Godhead became a Man.
That is why we must confess that the Virgin is truly a virgin. Christ was not conceived by human flesh, but by God's Spirit. If there is no virgin, there is no salvation.
So we confess the Son of the Virgin, who shed God's Blood on the Cross. We confess the Son of God who died. We confess the immortal Lamb who rose from death, who sits at God's right hand, who rules now and for all eternity.
These are not mere doctrines. These are life and forgiveness. If Christ is not God, then we are still lost. If Christ is not born of a virgin, then our sins still accuse us, and we are dead, now and forever.
But He is truly born of the Virgin and truly both God and Man. Therefore, He is named Jesus, Savior of mankind, your Lord. There is no other name that saves.
I declare to you that Christ Jesus has brought you into His Kingdom. This is the Kingdom of His father David, the Kingdom promised by prophets from ancient times, the Kingdom built by the Blood of Christ. In Christ, you also are a son of David, in the royal family. Mary was a descendant of David by birth. You are one by Baptism and by adoption.
You are also restored to the honorable lineage of Eve, the first woman, and mother of us all. She was created as a holy and perfect woman, full of every beauty and glory in the image of God. No woman like Eve has ever lived. Yet Eve rebelled against God's Word by eating the fruit. She disbelieved the warning that she would die. Through Eve, death entered the world to afflict all mankind. She gave birth to sin and death, conceived in her by the deceiving word of the dark angel, satan.
But Mary gave birth to the sinless One, conceived in her by the Word of God carried by the holy angel Gabriel. Mary brought forth life for all mankind, since Christ Jesus is the Life. Mary listened and believed, and by her humble faith, received again the image of God in Christ.
We who listen and believe are like Mary. We are a beautiful woman, the Bride of Christ, prepared in splendor by the Lord who dwell in us.
Yet the presence of God in Mary was different than in us, and her honor greater. We are not rightly called the Mother of God. She is. The flesh of the Son of God lived in her womb for nine months. She shared her body, and sustained His life.
We come closest to Mary when we kneel at this communion rail. Here, the very Body and Blood of Christ enter us. We experience a true Communion like Mary's. We are one with Him, and He with us. We humble slaves of the Lord are honored by Him as He declares His great favor, and His over-flowing grace.
All glory to the Incarnate Christ, God-made-flesh. In His Holy Name. Amen.
Sermons, Bible Commentaries, Bible Analyses on Annunciation to St. Mary
Malankara World Special on St. Mary
Malankara World Special on Shunoyo of St. Mary
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