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Mary, the Favored One

• Greg Boyd

Greg’s sermon this week broke down into three parts. The topic was the meaning of the angel’s words when the angel told Mary that she was favored (Luke 1:28). Part I of the sermon focused on what “favored” does not mean. Part II focused on what it does mean. And part III examines why the word “favor” is used at all.

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Greg’s sermon this week broke down into three parts. The topic was the meaning of the angel’s words when the angel told Mary that she was favored (Luke 1:28). Part I of the sermon focused on what “favored” does not mean. Part II focused on what it does mean. And part III examines why the word “favor” is used at all.

Greg’s fear is that we might come away from this passage thinking that God plays favorites. So the first section of the sermon counters this idea from other passages of Scripture. I John 4:8 expresses that God is love. Not only does God love (verb), love is the very essence of what God is. God loves because God is love, not the other way around. This means that God is, does, and must be love to all people. This love—which is the essence of God—is Absolute. Duet. 10:17-19 also strongly opposes the idea that God plays favorites with people. The same is true of Isaiah 55:1, 5, and 8. Here again we see the true heart of God’s love for all people. The reason God’s ways are not our ways is not simply because God is so mysterious, in this context, God’s ways are not our ways because God’s love knows no tribal or national boundaries! Other passages that support this include: John 3:16; Acts 10:34; Rom. 2:10-11; I Tim. 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; I John 2:2.

So, if by “favored” the angel did not mean that Mary was one of God’s “favorites” then what did the angel mean? Greg argued that a look at the whole of Scripture shows that God “favors”, “elects”, and “calls” people for partnership with God in carrying out a specific job. Often, God calls the least likely candidates to show that it is indeed God who is at work in this (Judges 6:12, 15-17 the Gideon example). This was true of Moses, Abraham, Mary and many others. Mary—who we are reading about in Luke—gives a vivid model of Greg’s point. Mary was open and obedient to God and God used her to birth Christ, the savior of the world, God’s own Son! This carries over to us metaphorically. When we have the same heart Mary had, God will also birth something in and through us. Most likely it will not be a physical child, but it will be a unique role that you in particular can play in the Kingdom of God! It is in this way that we each are “favored.”

Greg argued that the word “favor” was appropriate for many reasons. Partnering with God is the greatest possible honor! Working with God to serve others gives our lives eternal significance. Co-laboring with God in this way is life’s greatest blessing and joy.

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Topics: Blessings, God's Will, Love


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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 1:28

    The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."

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