“And coming in, he said to her, ‘Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.’” – Luke 1:28 (NASB)
Mary’s response to the angel is delightful. She doesn’t question the statement about being the Lord’s favored one; instead, she finds herself “very perplexed” (Luke 1:29). She wonders at the salutation. Perhaps her brow wrinkles, or she tilts her head as she tries to decipher the angel’s strange words.
She also listens, without interrupting, even as the angel tells her another perplexity: She will bear a son. Mary only then asks, “How can this be?” (Luke 1:34). The question doesn’t come across as a refusal or doubt-ridden teenage angst; rather, she seems to be trying to put the pieces together. She wants to understand what the angel’s message means and how it will be accomplished.
Mary receives an answer to her question, albeit a somewhat vague one: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). Mary asks no further questions. She simply replies, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary humbles herself to God’s words, and she does so knowing full well the consequences that will come. God may view her as his favored one, but her neighbors won’t. Joseph may break the betrothal. She could be cast out of society at best, stoned at worst. She doesn’t receive wealth, fame, or comfort for obeying God’s words.
No, Mary receives condemnation from society and ultimately experiences the sorrow of seeing her Son die on a cross. She suffers. But even in her suffering, her beauty—a beauty that only comes from surrendering to God and following his instructions—shines. She becomes a quiet, brilliant light for the world to see and follow back to its source: God, the one who called her by her name and bestowed upon her the title “favored one.”