This is part of our Advent Blog Series. To read the rest of the posts in the series, click here.
The past three weeks of Advent we have been exploring the much darker and infinitely better side of the Christmas story; first, that God loves us too much to give us what we expect, second that Jesus is the King our hearts long for. This week I want to express that Jesus our King will powerfully use us if we humbly open our hands.
Almost all of our human relationships are based on reciprocal agreements; I will do this if you do that for me. I will work for you if you pay me this much per hour. I will be your friend if you respect our relationship. I will vote for you if you support the issues I believe are most important. Rarely do we even enter into a completely open-ended agreement with someone where we give them complete power over our lives with no limits. But this is exactly what Mary does with God in Luke 1:35-38.
She calls herself a “slave girl of the Lord,” and simply says, “let it happen as You have decreed.” She isn’t hanging on to anything and she isn’t holding back. Keep in mind, she has just heard the most confusing and disturbing message imaginable. Gabriel told her that she was about to be miraculously pregnant with Jesus. Mary lived in a Jewish culture in which adultery was punishable by death. Mary’s humble obedient heart is incredible, and so is the way God used her in salvation history.
While God, being all powerful, doesn’t need us to help him accomplish His plans, He delights in using weak humans who are surrendered to Him for great kingdom purposes. Mary epitomizes this truth. I love the way Hudson Taylor, one of the greatest, most influential missionaries of the modern world put it: “God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on Him.”
The account of Gabriel coming to Mary and announcing that she would give birth to the Son of God is surely one of the most astounding passages in Scripture. This is what Advent is really all about; God giving us not what we expect but exactly what we need, and this message is exactly what we need this Advent season.
In our culture, Christmas is largely about getting gifts on December 25. Maybe you already have your list of gifts you hope to give or receive, but I would like to deconstruct our cultural approach to Christmas and remind us that the best imaginable gift God could give us has already been given. King Jesus has come. What is your response to this gift? Mary gives us a beautiful example of embracing God’s gift with open hands. How have you responded to Jesus? Maybe you have never put your faith in Christ as your Lord and Savior. Or maybe you consider yourself a Christian, but if you are honest, simply haven’t really surrendered your life to Christ the way Mary did. Satan wants to rob you of God’s priceless gift this Christmas. I want to encourage you, implore you to surrender to reconsider and respond to Jesus.
So I’ll close this Advent blog series with the admonition Jonathan Edwards gave his congregation in his sermon on the excellency of Christ:
What are you afraid of, that you dare not venture your soul upon Christ? Are you afraid that he cannot save you; or that he is not strong enough to conquer the enemies of your soul? But how can you desire one stronger than ‘the mighty God as Christ is called in Isaiah 9:6?
Is there a need of greater than infinite strength? Are you afraid that he will not be willing to stoop so low as to take any gracious notice of you: But then, look on him, as he stood in the ring of soldiers, exposing his blessed face to be beaten and spit on by them!
What is there that you can desire should be in a savior that is not in Christ? Or, wherein should you desire a savior should be otherwise than Christ?
What excellency is there lacking? Whatever there is that is great or good; what is there that is venerable or winning…which is not found in the person of Christ?
May we embrace Christ this Advent season.