December 20 I Sunday
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” —John 3:16
Of all the families that God could have chosen in the nation of Israel, He sent His Son through a teenager in Nazareth, an unimportant town in an overlooked area in the region of Galilee, as opposed to the religious elite in Jerusalem. God sent His angel Gabriel to deliver this news to the teenager, Mary, saying, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” After hearing what the angel said, Mary was greatly troubled at his words. In the Greek text, Mary was perplexed, like she was arguing with herself as to what type of greeting this could be. Mary’s perplexity comes with fear as Gabriel acknowledges, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God” (Luke 1:28-30).
Twice in Gabriel’s speech, he refers to Mary with “highly favoured” and “favour.” To understand why Mary was troubled by Gabriel’s greeting, we need to consider the Greek sentence structure that Luke was led by the Holy Spirit to pen in his Gospel. The Greek word for “favour” is charitoo and it derives from the Greek noun, charis, often translated “grace” to mean “that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.” Different from charis, charitoo is a verb where it is an action on God’s part towards a human being: “to make graceful;” “to peruse with grace, compass with favour,” and “to honour with blessings.”
In effect, Gabriel was saying, “Greetings, you who are highly lavished with love, joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.” Gabriel’s greeting towards Mary was one of overwhelming grace from God directed towards her. When we look at the Greek, the text denotes undeserved favour that is bestowed upon her. This gift of grace is directed towards Mary with such intensity that she starts to wonder what type of grace this could be and starts to fear, because she is overwhelmed by such grace, affection and favour of God upon her. Mary wonders to herself as to how this could be, since she did not earn God’s favour, where He was somehow indebted to her and was therefore obligated to bestow His grace upon her.
In Richard C. H. Lenski’s commentary on Luke, concerning the word charitoo, he explains, “This divine grace is always found, never earned. It falls into the lap, we do not go and work for it. It is a gift, pure and simple.” The unmerited favour that we all have from God is the sending of His Son into the world to die for undeserving sinners. Have we ever experienced a moment in our life where we are completely overwhelmed by this act of grace?
Prayer: Dear God, thank You for Your unmerited favour that You would send Your Son into this world to die for our sins. I am completely overwhelmed by Your act of grace. Praise You!