Day 18

The Angel Visits Mary and Joseph

from the Advent 2017: Joy to the World reading plan


Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25, Job 33:4

BY Guest Writer

Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38, Matthew 1:18-25, Job 33:4

My flight was canceled—for the seventh time that day. What I’d planned to be a refreshing girls trip, had quickly spun into a stress-filled travel debacle. I had set my heart on this trip, buying a ticket guaranteeing (or so I believed) my passage from Point A to Point B. But the weather and the airlines had different plans for me. I’m not going to lie; it’s hard for me to stay positive when my expectations start falling apart. And based on the mood in the airport that day, I’d guess most people don’t react well to unwanted change.

A delayed vacation is such a little thing compared to, say, the unexpected pregnancy of a virgin. I used to think it was strange that Mary was afraid when the angel Gabriel appeared to her. He’s an angel, after all. Shouldn’t she be amazed or awestruck? While fear is hardly an uncommon reaction to encountering angels in the Bible (Matthew 1:19-25; Luke 2:8-20), Mary’s story leads me to believe that perhaps angels do not appear like the gentle white-clothed, feather-singed, harp-carrying creatures we’ve imagined them to be.

Now try to imagine a young, teenage girl with a formidable creature appearing before her, saying that, while there is no logical or scientific reason she should be pregnant, indeed she is! This makes it seem quite natural for Mary to respond with fear and then disbelief. And so she asks the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). She’s basically saying, This cannot be happening—can it? Who hasn’t felt the same way at some point or another?

What’s unique about Mary’s reaction is that she moves from fear of the angel, to disbelief of the situation, and then on to obedience to her God. I don’t know about you, but I tend to move from fear to disbelief to frustration to defeat—only landing on obedience after a long internal struggle. Mary doesn’t do that. She doesn’t tell God He will have to take her kicking and screaming into His will. Lo and behold, her betrothed Joseph follows suit—his heart moving from fear to disbelief and, ultimately, to obedience.

I think the secret to Mary and Joseph’s faithful response lies in their true identity. It’s significant that after the angel Gabriel breaks the shocking news, Mary quickly identifies herself as “the servant of the Lord” (Luke 1:38). She could have objected to God’s will, aligning herself with other identities instead, arguing, “But I’m a virgin!” or “I’m un-wed!” or “I’m still young!” All of those things were true, but Mary’s truest identity came from her relationship with God.

When we fight the will of God, aren’t we just prioritizing another identity over the one He’s given us? In our hearts, aren’t we quietly saying that we want to be lord over our own lives, rather than abiding with Him as His faithful servant? Thankfully, we can gladly choose the role of God’s servant because we know the Lord is a far better and more gracious ruler than we could ever be to ourselves.

Instead of struggling against the good things God wants to do in and through our lives, let us imitate Mary’s reaction to a shocking and wild calling. Even better, let us emulate the obedience of Jesus Himself before His Father (Luke 22:41-42). Although fear and disbelief naturally arise, let us lean into the Lord’s calling with obedience. Only then will we find the peace that can only come from walking in relationship with the Most High.
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Kaitie Stoddard is a professional counselor who recently relocated from Chicago to Colorado with her husband. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about helping couples and families find healing in their relationships. On any given weekend you’re likely to find Katie snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, checking out new restaurants with friends, or catching up on her favorite Netflix and podcast series.

Post Comments (58)

58 thoughts on "The Angel Visits Mary and Joseph"

  1. Jena says:

    “let it be to me according to your word.” – these are the words that Mary spake and it shows us she is just being obedient – asking God to do whatever it is according to the word the angel just gave her. I don’t always willingly accept the will. I was telling others it’s been 3 years in the making for me to do something Gods been telling me to do. And it has totally been because of fear that I am not good enough although he called me to it. Moses wrestled through the motions of giving God excuse after excuse of why He wasn’t the man for the job and with each excuse God showed Him a way out of that excuse. I can be like this and I’m so thankful for this study because it makes me recognize when I’m being stubborn or just plain ol disobedient. If she would have said no, she could have missed out on the greatest opportunity known to mankind. Wow.

  2. Rachel Brown says:

    I am behind on this study but so glad I didn’t give up – I really, really needed this word today.

    1. Benny Benabe says:

      Me too! Glad to be sticking with it. From fear to disbelief the obedience….praying it for myself. ❤️

  3. Emily says:

    ” I tend to move from fear to disbelief to frustration to defeat—only landing on obedience after a long internal struggle. “. This line really stood out to me because this is how I often times react to God’s will in my life especially the part about “only landing on obedience after a long internal struggle!” Praying today that I can move my initial reaction to things and move straight to trusting God and His will for my life.

  4. Bailey says:

    Help me to emulate the obedience of Mary, Lord!

  5. Sam says:

    Mary is scared and confused, she’s pregnant and a virgin. Nobody is gonna believe that. Yet she still says yes to God, even in her fear. She knows who she is in God’s eyes so t doesn’t matter what anyone else will say or think, she is prepared to give up everything she has, her family, her friends, her fiance. All of it, to obey God. May I be more like Mary, ready to drop everything I know and have to follow God’s plan.

    1. Debbie Deal says:

      Amen. When it is something that doesn’t make sense to me (often what God directs us to do, does not in our limited way of thinking) I argue like I know better than God. How strange, when he is infinitely the genius of creation and all mankind. In my brain, I know that. I am getting better throughout the years-not perfect or anywhere close to it, but better, at stopping to talk with him and pray for my heart to be obedient to His will. It is my desire to be obedient to Him, b/c I love him above all things in and out of this world. My desire is good, but too often, my execution is found lacking. I will continue trying harder and harder each day. Hopefully by the time he calls me home to him, I will be pleasing to him. That is my goal. I love the example that Mary & Joseph have set for us. They both had a difficult journey being set by God. What wonderful examples they were to all of us, even today, of following God’s word and will, regardless how it appears to the world. We serve such an awesome God!!!

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