Advent | The Posture

Advent Week One | Week Two

In the same region, shepherds were staying out in the fields and keeping watch at night over their flock. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for look, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11 Today in the city of David a Savior was born for you, who is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be the sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped tightly in cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to people he favors!

When the angels had left them and returned to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go straight to Bethlehem and see what has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” They hurried off and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby who was lying in the manger. After seeing them, they reported the message they were told about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary was treasuring up all these things in her heart and meditating on them. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had seen and heard, which were just as they had been told.

  • Luke 2:8-20

One of the fascinating aspects of the Advent narrative is the unlikely people God sovereignly picked to play a direct role in the incarnation story. He used lowly shepherds as messengers of the Messiah’s arrival. He chose an utterly plain, little rural town to be the birthplace of Jesus.

Then there was Jesus’ mother. Who would you have cast for this extraordinarily powerful and esteemed role? God chose Mary, a young virgin Hebrew girl, to be the mother of Jesus. What exactly made Mary the ideal candidate to be used in such an epic role? Even Mary didn’t understand. Luke’s account of Jesus’ birth describes Mary as being “greatly troubled” at Gabriel’s news that she would carry and give birth to the Son of God.

“How could this be?” she must have wondered.

“Who am I?”

“You’ve got the wrong gal!”

Yet Gabriel gently admonishes her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (Luke 1:30) This was no accident. This wasn’t a lottery drawing. The wise and sovereign God of the universe hand-selected Mary because He found her favorable.

What was it about Mary God found so favorable? Her visit to Elizabeth sheds significant light on just who Mary was.

And Mary said:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and his name is holy.

  • Luke 1:46-49 (emphasis added)

Mary had a heart of humility and she had a heart of worship. For centuries God would speak through the prophets to his people. Israel was repeatedly found to be prideful and idolatrous. Time after time God would warn against their manipulative sacrifices and hypocritical hearts. In Mary, Heaven had found what was favorable. Mary was a woman who was unassuming and thoughtful of others before herself. She was a woman whose heart was bent toward joyful expressions of adoration of Yahweh, her Heavenly Father. This was very favorable to God.

God uses and magnifies the truly humble because they will glory in Jesus – not themselves. It was Mary’s soul that glorified the Lord – not just her lips. Deep down in the wellspring of her heart was a genuine love for God that superseded everything. When you behold the beauty and majesty of God the way Mary did, you can’t help but be humbled by His presence.


WEEK TWO REFLECTIONS

Do you find the people and places God used to usher in the Incarnation surprising? Why or why not?

Lowly shepherds found Jesus in a borrowed stable in humble Bethlehem proclaiming what the angels had told them. God chose the humblest of scenarios for the Messiah to arrive. What can we learn about God and His character from this?

How does the world around us seem to value humility and service?

Read Mark 10:44-45. How do Jesus’ birth and ministry relate?

If we want to be used by God in unique and powerful ways we start by examining our hearts. What are our motivations? Where do our affections lie? Do we see pride and idolatry or humility and worship?

RESPONSE

As you make your list of people to buy gifts for, include someone who would never expect to receive a gift from you. As you do this, consider the joy you feel in blessing them and consider the love and grace in God’s heart as He sent His Son to die for sinners.

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