Luke 1: 26In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” 29Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. 31You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. 32He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” 34″How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37For nothing is impossible with God.” 38″I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
What if Mary said No? What if the angel had appeared to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored?” and Mary had asked, “Aren’t you mistaking me for someone else?” Or if the angel had persisted and said, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God,” and Mary had replied, “Me? Is this some kind of joke?” And what if the angel had persisted and said, “You will be with child and give birth to a son….he will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High,” and Mary had replied, “I’m really not cut out for this; its too risky; it could even get me stoned to death for adultery; try my sister Deborah, she’s up for anything, and she’s not engaged yet.” Let’s say that the angel persists and says, “The Lord God will give your son the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
By then it should be obvious to a young Jewish woman from Galilee that she is being enlisted to be the mother of the long-awaited, long-desired, long-promised Hebrew Messiah. But what if she had persisted and said, “Maybe I can help out in some other way, like babysitting. But don’t ask me to bear him in my womb and be his mother, not when its bound to get me enemies; some pretty big ones, too. Like a king.”
For thoughts on how history hung in the balance, and what Mary’s response means for us, check out the message of Sunday, December 21,2008 at Download Advent4-08.