An Unlikely Choice

by Ricky Chelette, Executive Director

I’ve been fascinated by the new Netflix series “The Crown,” which chronicles the rise of Elizabeth II to power as Queen of England. Great drama, strong characters, and lots of twists and turns in the plot make the storyline both enchanting and addictive. And yet, the conclusion of the show can be found in the title itself: Elizabeth will be crowned Queen.  Not only was she born into the royal family, but centuries of tradition and protocol mandated her as heir apparent. Everyone knew it. The choice was obvious.

Not so obvious was the choice of God for the mother of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Luke puts it this way, “And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be bornwill be called holy—the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35 ESV)

What an amazing passage of scripture that we often read with little reflection.  Stop for a moment and look at what takes place.

  1. An angel, Gabriel, appears and talks to a young girl.
  2. The girl is already engaged to be married to a man whose betrothal has likely been planned for a very long time and consequently agreed upon by both families.
  3. Gabriel tells Marry that the Holy Spirit will, “come upon you.” What does that even mean?  This was not something she would have known or understood.
  4. The angel also tells her that, “The power of the Most High will overshadow you.” In other words,  Gabriel informs Mary that something miraculous will consume and transform her, changing the course of her life and all humanity.
  5. This miraculous event will include the birth of a child, an ostensible impossibility given her virgin state.
  6. The child she will birth will be holy, a designation she understood but a condition she knew was impossible for humans to achieve.
  7. This child will be “the Son of God.”  How could this be? Mary knew God as a Spirit, not a person.

Can you see the overwhelming nature of such a revelation? It is mind-blowing. Nothing of this kind had ever happened in the history of the world. No one had ever had a child without first having sexual relations. No one had ever birthed the Son of God. No one. Ever. Never. Yet, the angel of the Lord informed Mary that she had been chosen. She would bring the Son of God into the world and care for Him as His mother.

As twenty first-century readers, we miss so much in this text because we live in a world of equality, rights, entitlement, and respect for all. This was not the case in the first-century world. Women were the property of their husbands. They had no rights, no voice, and no real identity apart from the one given to them through their marriage.

But why would God choose to bring His Son into the world through a woman?
The God of the Bible is not a predictable deity. In fact, the most consistent predictor of His activity is His unpredictability. He chose a marginalized people to be “His people.”  He chose unlikely—and often seemingly unqualified—people to be his ambassadors, prophets, and priest.  He uses broken people to accomplish God-sized tasks and elevates the lowly to lofty places.

There was no script that Mary could follow in response to Gabriel’s revelation. This is new ground. This had never happened before, nor will it ever happen again. Yet, her seemingly unlikely choice by God is met with an incredible faith response: “I am the servant of the Lord: let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 2:37 ESV)

It is easy to think that we have nothing to contribute to God’s Kingdom. The tasks are so great and the demands are so unattainable. However, God has a way of choosing the most unlikely to accomplish His will. Mary wasn’t outstanding.  There is no indication that she was anything but ordinary with one exception; Mary was a woman of faith.  She believed and that allowed her to be used by God to change the world.

God may want to choose you to do incredible things for Him.  Are you willing? Are you faithful? Like Mary, you may not understand His plan, but your faith may just change the course of your life, or even the world, for His glory!