Dec. 6, 2017: What Kind of Love Is This?

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“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” - Luke 1:38


Mary’s love for God was distinguished by extraordinary faithfulness, patience and forbearance. Betrothed to Joseph in marriage, this young Jewish girl had an unexpected visitation by an angel who told her that she would bear a son. Her question was not unreasonable: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). The angel Gabriel 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… For no word from God will ever fail.” (Luke 1:35, 37). Her response? “’I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’” (Luke 1:38).

Hers was a faithful love — a love that was willing to forbear the disgrace of being with child out of wedlock, patiently waiting for the Lord’s promise to be fulfilled in her life. This was also a love that patiently waited for Joseph to be caught up on God’s plans (Matthew 1:18-25) and forbore Joseph’s initial skepticism, disbelief, shock and incredulity — and the whispering of a community.

And that same faithful, patient, forbearing love was the love that enabled Mary to lead Joseph into his true calling as her faithful husband and loving step-father to the young Jesus. This is what happens in a loving marriage and in true friendship. The Lord will use us to lead each other into who we really are, most deeply and most truly. When Jesus began his public ministry as a young man we get this one glimpse of Joseph’s faithfulness in raising Jesus as his own child. Speaking of Jesus, we are told, “All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.” (Luke 4:22).

This process is a mutual thing. It is Joseph who led Mary and the infant Jesus to safety in Egypt, per the angel’s instructions, and it was Joseph who led the family safely home again and stood by her as a faithful husband so that she could be the mother to Jesus that she was called to be.

Isn’t that the kind of love that we all want? Certainly, this is the love we were made for. And this is the love that came to us as a baby in a manger. This is the love that came to us as a Savior on the Cross. This is the love that forbears with us in all our fallibility — a love that knows our weaknesses and loves us just the same, a love that is unconditional. This is the perfect love in Jesus that “…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

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