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Jesus, God of Gracious Condescension

And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”

Luke 1:28

Watch session one: Jesus responds to our need

As stories go, everything about Mary’s seemed impossible. It seemed impossible that, after four hundred years of silence, God would send a messenger to a young girl probably no more than fifteen years old. It seemed impossible that a girl would find fa – vor with God. And it seemed impossible that through a virgin would come “the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:32).

It certainly seemed impossible to Mary.

an ordinary girl

It’s hard to picture it—an ordinary Mary. A Mary without a glowing halo. A Mary without that expression of demure solemnity we’ve come to associate with her virginity. But the truth is, Mary was just that: ordinary—a noname girl from a no-name town, living in an insignificant corner of the Roman Empire. Still, we struggle to accept her ordinariness.

“But Mary was humble,” we object. Or, “She was holy,” we tell ourselves.

No matter how we put it, we all do it. We buy into the idea that God chose Mary because there was something about her that made her extraordinary. Something that made her worthy of God’s notice. Something that made her special. But that’s not the picture of Mary we get from the Gospel of Luke. Far from it. When Gabriel appeared to Mary and called her “favored,” when he exclaimed, “the Lord is with you,” Mary didn’t know what to do with it. Surely Gabriel had made a mistake. Surely he’d gotten the wrong girl. Mary, the gospel writer tells us, “was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:29). Mary’s story seemed impossible. It seemed impossible to her, and it should seem impossible to us—but that, of course, is precisely the point.

but for grace

Mary’s story is impossible. But for grace. It’s easy to come to Mary’s story and be so overcome by the miracle of the Virgin Birth that we forget about the miracle of grace. We forget that it was grace that sent Gabriel with a message of good news to a no-name town under Roman subjugation. We forget that it was grace that looked on Mary, an unimpressive, ordinary girl, with favor. And we forget that it was grace, through the power of the Holy Spirit, that made it possible for a virgin girl to bear the very Son of God—Jesus, the rescuer of humankind. Grace is the outpour – ing of God’s condescension, the bridge that connects the ordinary and the impossible. It did in Mary’s life, and it does in our own.

We live within the limitations of our ordinariness. Maybe we have ordinary skills. Maybe we have ordinary jobs. Or maybe we have ordinary relationships. But we can find comfort in knowing that the same grace that moved in Mary’s life is the grace that moves in ours. It is the grace of a God who bends to look on us with favor. It has nothing to do with us and who we are, but everything to do with Jesus and who he is.

It is because of grace that Gabriel could say to Mary, “Nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). And it is because of grace that God says the same to us.

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Miracles of Jesus

Daily Question

Do you really believe God graces the ordinary? Or are there places you strive to be better than ordinary in order to earn God’s grace?

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Comments (10)

Maybe I am reading this wrong but I find it hard to think that I am ordinary and I feel that is rude to say but there is so much in my life that if this was ordinary I wouldn’t this unique. I think I try to be better all the time and in all things which is a strength but weakness at the same time. I have to realize that ordinary is not a bad thing and sometimes being "normal" is just what I need.

God gives grace and it’s freeing to know that. I come from catholic background and you work for your salvation. When I was small I never was taught about grace. I learned about guilt and condemnation. Sad but true. When I became a Christian that was still in my subconscious thinking. Always striving, competing and never feeling that it was enough for God’s approval. I want to be set free from all the legalism.

I find it difficult to simply believe and receive his grace. I keep thinking I need to have more faith. Yet when I read the above questions, I know the true answers in my heart. Grace has no strings attached, no agenda, simply love.

I know that I can’t earn it, and feel that God’s Grace is extraordinary. Yes I do want to do good work -at work- or in whatever I do, but not because I want to earn it, because I appreciate "Grace."

I strive to do well in life to feed my own desires, work life, home life, being a good mum, being a good friend, the desire to have more for my family. But to earn God’s grace, well I just follow the steps to being a good person. Sometimes I get it wrong, I know from my above comment that I have my outlook all wrong but I know he still loves me, even if I make mistakes and buy into the need for more in society. I hope that makes sense!

I do believe that God graces the ordinary because I have studied it time and time again in scripture. I have also seen this at work in His redeeming grace and life transformation of ordinary people. But I still fall into the trap of thinking I have to do more and be better. Our world today runs on this motto…the more you do, the more you will get. We are also working ourselves to death and focusing on the wrong priorities. I fall into this trap many times. It is amazing how, if you are listening and open to it, God will remind you through scripture, songs, sermons, or people that He is in control, He loves us with an everlasting love, and His grace is sufficient. Leaning on Grace and His Holy Spirit can take us from ordinary to favored. Not because of what we have done (works), but because of what He has done (Grace).

This reminds of the verse that says God spits out the luke-warm. In my mind, ordinary is similar to being luke-warm, so I do get hard on myself when I start comparing myself to those who have been “exceptional Christians.” Those who have gone on mission trips, are always seen bubbly and smiling, naturally brings up Jesus into every conversation. I end up thinking that must be what a true Christian is; hence, I must work harder and earn His favor, earn His Grace. I need to remind myself that comparison is the thief of joy and that God has put unique passions, personality traits and tendencies into each of us so that we would glorify Him in different ways. The important thing is that I have accepted him as my savior and that’s all that’s necessary to receive His grace, nothing more.

Do you believe God graces the ordinary? Or are there places you strive to be better than ordinary in order to earn God’s grace?
I believe that God takes the ordinary person and through His power makes them extraordinary – like those people we see that are truly on fire for the Lord and His work. I can think of times when I actually felt the need to better myself in some way while asking something of God – praying more, working on a weakness, etc. as if it would gain me favor with God regarding my request. I realize that this makes God small and makes me big which is the reverse of what the Gospels teach. He must increase, and I must decrease. While there’s nothing wrong with seeking the Lord during times of asking for His help, it shouldn’t be used to try to manipulate the Lord into an answer. Instead seeking God humbly like David and many saints of old did. I am going to try to humble myself before the Lord and seek His grace.

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