The Mary Files
The Mary Files
Words of Faith 2-13-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee,  to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary.  The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
"Tonight, an exclusive interview..." The words catch out attention. Every once in while a journalist gets what can only be called the interview of a lifetime. Such an interview is usually with someone of historic significance that no one else has talked to. But this is not just the "big scoop", the latest tabloid scandal or someone's "fifteen minutes of fame". The big interview is someone like David Frost talking to Nixon. Barbara Walters talked to Jackie O. or Princess Di. We listen because we sense that something important may be revealed. Important questions will be answered. Our text today is like that.
Luke had "carefully investigated everything from the beginning" and in doing so managed to land the interview of a lifetime. A lot of people had access to information about Jesus of Nazareth. There were several Gospels. Even the Jewish historian Josephus had knowledge and wrote of Jesus. But Doctor Luke had scored the journalistic coup-- an interview with the mother of Jesus!
As far as we know, such an interview was never granted to anyone else including Peter who was the source for Mark's gospel, Levi who wrote Matthew and even John with whom Mary spent many of her years after the resurrection of Jesus. There are many things that are unique about the writing and perspective of Luke, but perhaps most striking is his access to what we might call "The Mary Files", the special insight from the mother of Jesus.
Why was Luke granted such access? How did he warrant Mary's story? It may be as simple as the fact that no one had ever asked much about the birth of Jesus. Mary did not tell all that she knew. There are so many more things that we would like to know about the childhood of Jesus, his teenage years and the fate of Joseph. We don't get the whole story of all that Mary "treasured up in her heart" (Luke 2:51). So what Mary revealed seems carefully chosen and purposeful. This may be what makes these Mary Files such a treasure.
So what is this all about? What is the point of this carefully chosen story? What was God wanting us to know through Mary and her recollection passed on to Luke the researcher?
The key may be in the simple phrase: "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." The phrase conveys the "favor"-- the HIGH FAVOR-- or the GRACE of GOD. The point of Mary's story here at the beginning is to set the tone, climate and environment of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a climate of GRACE.
The Gospel is about high grace! "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you." We need to clearly understand that this is not a statement of worship. At first hearing it may sound as though the angel is worshiping Mary, but nothing could be further from the case. In the Greek, the angel was simply hailing-- calling to or greeting-- Mary. Then the angel announced the grace of God that was upon her.
From the statement of the angel, many have been tempted to think that it was somehow the virtue of Mary that caused God to choose her for the honor of bearing the Son of God. This is not the case. God's decision to bring Jesus into the world through Mary of Nazareth was not based upon her virtue. If that were the case, the angel would not have announced the GRACE of God.
Grace is the "unmerited favor" of God. The "high grace" that the angel announced was an unmerited favor. Not that Mary lacked human virtue. But her virtue did not earn somehow earn her a place as the mother of God. Her virginity was not so much an issue of her moral purity as an issue of Jesus' miraculous incarnation, the miracle of God. God could have as easily miraculously chosen a prostitute to bear Jesus into the world. It would have been the same grace, the same unmerited favor.
We don't want to miss the point that Mary of Nazareth was favored by God; God was not favored by Mary's personal virtue. Without the grace of God, Mary of Nazareth was just as lost and separated from God as Mary of Magdala with seven unclean spirits. The angel was not announcing that favor had been found IN Mary of Nazareth but that she was highly favored by God. Highly graced!
This phrase is best called the Annunciation-- or Announcement because it ANNOUNCES the coming of the GRACE of GOD. Good News! The grace of God is here.
O God, help me to see Your grace. Help me to see that all humanity is lost without You. We all stand in need of Your grace-- Your high favor. Help me to receive Your grace. This is what I desperately need. In Jesus' name.