In Luke’s gospel, chapter 1 verses 30 and 31, an angel called Gabriel appeared to a young woman called Mary and announced to her this divine promise:

 “You have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son ... he will be called Son of the Most High”

At first, this must have sounded like really good news - what an honour to be so blessed by God! But other thoughts must have flashed through Mary's mind as it became clear that she would do so as an unmarried mother. Potentially, this would bring shame on her and her family; she would be publicly stigmatised, dishonoured and humiliated - and how would Joseph, her fiancé, react?


How did Mary respond to the divine promise?

 “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

That answer inaugurated a radical change to the course of world history; that simple act of trustful acceptance of God’s promise led to the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. Acceptance of that promise-laden call of God produced results beyond her imagining. That “yes” to God’s call to join with him in the redemption of the world had a profound and eternal effect.

We can see from Luke chapter 1, verses 46-55, that Mary took great joy in her calling to bear the Messiah, but that joy would be tempered by pain. A little later, another promise was prophesied over her by Simeon (see verse 35 in the next chapter) that:

“... a sword will pierce your soul..”

Thirty or so years later, that word was fulfilled as Jesus died in agony on the cross before her eyes (John chapter 14 verse 25).


By disregarding what others might think or say about her, Mary sought to be obedient to God and demonstrated that by accepting God’s promises we can make a difference to the world. This can bring us great joy, which might sometimes be accompanied by deep pain, as we see his plan of redemption unfold through us.