The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” (Luke 1.28)
Christmas greetings are almost universal. People all over the world wish one another a merry Christmas or a happy Christmas.
Although formally celebrating Christmas goes back to the 4th century, what has become the familiar greeting of merry Christmas, apparently only dates back to the sixteenth century. And it was only the publication of A Christmas Carol which popularised the greeting. Now we’d think it odd not to greet others – sometimes even total strangers – with a Christmas greeting.
The Christmas story began with a greeting. Gabriel greeted Mary with a declaration that she was highly favoured and that the Lord was with her. As the following verse makes clear, Mary had no idea of what Gabriel was going to say to her. She was uncertain as to what God’s specific purpose was as far as it concerned her.
Gabriel takes his time about getting to the point. He wants Mary to know and understand that she is highly favoured and that God is with her.
Sometimes we are so eager to discover God’s purpose that we miss His words of affirmation.
Through Christ and His finished work, we are favoured. God is with us. He wants us to know that before we find out anything else. The word translated highly favoured is also found in Ephesians 1.6, where it is applied to believers. You are as favoured as Mary. I am as favoured as Mary. Why? It’s because we have experienced the grace of God.
God is with us every bit as much as He was with Mary.
The certainty of His favour and presence is more important than the clarity of His purpose.