Luke 1:35 NIV
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on 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.”
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a truly awakened leader—a receptive vessel through which the Holy Spirit could usher the Son of God into the world.
The beauty of the Scriptures is that they don’t hide the real reactions of people to God’s sometimes strange requests. Mary was troubled by the greeting (v. 29). She didn’t know exactly what to do with the angel’s words about her finding favor with God. But like her Old Testament heroes and heroines, Mary knew that “I am the Lord’s servant,” and “May your word to me be fulfilled” (v. 38a) would be the only appropriate response worthy of the One who called her to this unique task.
When the Holy Spirit comes to Mary, there is first an encounter. The Holy Spirit happens to Mary. Mary would conceive Jesus, of course, but we can also understand the Holy Spirit’s coming on her to be a reinforcing taste of the Lord’s love and presence, an encounter that will strengthen her to raise the Christ as her son over the decades ahead.
She will be faced with the harshest ridicule almost any one of us could endure, even from those who have loved her the most and the longest. She was a sweet young synagogue girl, a prize of her family, part of the youth group, and a model of devotion. What happened to her? We can imagine that Mary would frequently return, through the gift of memory, to the moment the Holy Spirit came on her—returning to that encounter for inner courage to face the less publicly affirming moments in her journey.
When the Holy Spirit comes on Mary, secondly, there is energy. We call it power. Mary was spiritually tough-as-nails, a powerful, mighty soul in a tender frame, and never once do we see her falter or wander in confusion like so many of the Old Testament figures of faith who preceded her. There is good reason that Mary gets a lot of credit coming her way in the historic Church—she was the first person to know who Jesus was, the first to face her fears head on with faith, and the first to give her life to seeing God’s will be done through her, and through her son, no matter the cost. The Holy Spirit helped her; a deposit of spiritual energy kept her going.
Thirdly, when the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary, there is influence. Obedience, a glorious first fragrance of the Spirit’s work within us, takes emotional, mental, and physical resilience. God has never asked anything of anyone that didn’t cost them something, even if in the end God replenished any losses incurred with even greater blessings. Mary has the capacity to do the will of God because the Spirit is continuing to influence her beyond the moment of Jesus’ conception. The Spirit that overshadowed the waters at creation, is overshadowing her life.
The result? New creation. The birth of the Lord of New Creation comes through a dear girl named Mary. And when it all happens, she doesn’t look back.
Well done, Mary. Lead on.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. I know you may never ask of me the same kind of life-quaking obedience as you did of Mary, but I welcome you to prepare my heart to say yes to anything you desire. Come, Holy Spirit, just as you encountered, energized, and influenced Mary, do the same with me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Have you ever had an experience where you felt the Holy Spirit prepared you for a ministry of great importance? How were you prepared, and how did you experience the Spirit working through you?
For the awakening,