Faith: Christmas is a lesson in grace and humility

Many Bible commentators think that when Jesus was born, Mary was probably a teenager, living with her parents in the village of Nazareth.

In her village, Mary was on the lowest rung of Jewish society.

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She was not a citizen of Rome, nor was she of any importance to her own people, except for her family. She was a non-descript peasant.

Yet, it was to this teenager that the angel Gabriel appears, announcing that she would give birth to the long-awaited messianic king.

But why Mary?

The early church named Mary as Theotokos — a Greek title meaning “God bearer.” She bore God the Son in her womb.

There was no one who ever had a greater connection to Jesus, no one who experienced and played a more central role in God’s plan than Mary.

Gabriel did not explain God’s choice, but Mary did, in a hymn of praise she sang shortly after discovering she was pregnant — a song of praise inspired by Hannah’s son when she gave birth to Samuel hundreds of years before (Luke 1:46-48; 51-52).

Why did God choose Mary? Because God looks with favour on the lowly.

He lifts them up and blesses them, while scattering the proud.

Mary believed God chose her precisely because she was not of noble birth. Her qualifications were that she was humble. She had a heart for God and was willing to offer herself totally and completely to Him.

Evangelist D.L. Moody once said: “God has two thrones, one in the highest heavens, the other in the lowliest heart.”

God consistently chooses the humble, the unlikely and the lowly.

He chose the elderly Abraham and Sarah to bring forth the chosen people.

He chose Moses, a stuttering man and a fugitive from the law, to be the lawgiver and deliverer of Israel.

He chose David, the shepherd boy, the youngest and the scrawniest son of Jesse, to be Israel’s greatest king.

And He chose Mary to bear the Messiah.

Humility is an important theme in Jesus’ ministry. We hear it in His words again and again: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).

The entire Christmas story is, in part, about the reversal of values in God’s kingdom. Mary, a peasant girl, was chosen to bear the King.

Jesus was born in a stable because there were no rental room available in Bethlehem. The first people God invited to see the Christ were the ditch diggers of Jesus’ day, the shepherds.

Humility is a bag into which God puts the riches of His grace.

The one infallible test of our faith in Christ will be the humility before Him and others which marks us.

Humility is the bloom and the beauty of holiness, of what it means to be set apart for God’s use.

The chief mark of counterfeit holiness is its lack of humility, namely, pride.

Regarding pride, C.S. Lewis wrote: “The essential vice, the utmost evil, is pride. Unchastity, anger, greed and drunkenness are mere flea biters in comparison.”

God chose Mary, a young girl from an insignificant part of the Roman Empire, to give birth to Jesus because that’s how God works.

That’s who He is. That’s what He does: “He opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).

Gabriel came to Mary and said: “Greetings, you who are highly favoured. The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).

Grace is God’s kindness, His love, His care, His work on our behalf, His blessings, His gifts, His goodness, His forgiveness and His salvation. And, it is all these things when they are unwarranted.

God’s grace is at the centre of what He was doing at Christmas. God was gracious to Mary, because He had chosen her even though she didn’t deserve it.

The child to be born of Mary was grace incarnate. His life would be a message of grace. He would demonstrate grace to sinners, tax collectors, and prostitutes.

Through the Christ-child, God was blessing this humble girl with the most remarkable gift and calling. She would literally be filled with grace.

That’s how apostle John begins his gospel: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

“From the fullness of his grace we have all received on blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14; 16-17).

Christmas is about God’s grace — the kindness, love,

forgiveness and blessings He gives to us, even though we don’t deserve them. Jesus came to show us God’s grace.

During the Christmas season, as we celebrate the hope of the resurrection, the gift of salvation and the cross and the coming of the One who taught us how to live, we celebrate the marvelous gift of God’s grace.

ryanmitra225@gmail.com

KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to editor@kamloopsthisweek.com. Please include a very short bio and a photo.

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