December 14, 2020 – Treasured and Graced

The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.

Luke 1:30-33

The angel who speaks to Mary is Gabriel. That is the first thing I want you to notice. We first met this messenger (“angel,” from a Greek word that means “messenger”) in Daniel chapter nine. In that chapter, Daniel prays a remarkable intercessory prayer, confessing and acknowledging the wickedness, rebellion, and misery of God’s people. Now, you know that a righteous judge cannot simply ignore evil. This is important because Daniel also pleads with God for mercy. He says, literally, “To the Lord our God is the mercy and the compassion (not just generic mercy and compassion, but THE mercy and THE compassion) for we have rebelled against him.” (You can read all of Daniel’s prayer in Daniel 9:1-19.) God sends Gabriel to answer Daniel. His answer is recorded beginning at Daniel 9:23. He says, “At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed; so give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision.” The message and vision are about the coming of Messiah the Prince. When Gabriel visited Mary, he told her the same thing. Messiah the Prince is coming – through her! Gabriel reported God’s decree that Daniel’s prayer had been heard and was going to be answered. Gabriel’s message to Mary was the fulfillment of that promise.

Second, not only does the messenger and his message link these two passages, but His greeting does so as well. He says Daniel is “highly esteemed.” The Hebrew word refers to something desirable or precious and therefore treasured. (See Song of Solomon 2:3 and Psalm 68:16 where the word is translated “delighted” and “desired” respectively.) So, Gabriel referred to Daniel as “treasured one.” When he visited Mary, Gabriel called her, “favored one.” He used one Greek word that means, literally, “woman who has been graced.” Gabriel referred to Daniel as “treasured” and to Mary as “graced.” Both were chosen instruments set apart by God to bring about the Incarnation. God used Daniel and his prayer to issue the decree that Messiah the Prince was on his way. God used Mary to bring Messiah the Prince into the world.

In answer to Daniel’s prayer, Mary, who was a virgin, would give birth to the very embodiment of God’s grace toward those in whom he delights! (Ps. 16:3) You see, when Daniel prayed, “To the Lord our God is the mercy and the compassion,” I do not believe he was referring merely to the ideas of mercy and compassion. Rather, THE mercy and THE compassion refer to THE incarnate Christ. Jesus IS the mercy and the compassion of God because he Saved his people from their sins. (Matt 1:21; Luke 2:11)