MARY, AN ENDOWMENT OF GRACE
Studying words in their proper context can give us a richer, deeper experience with the lives of Saints as recorded in the scriptures. In this article, I discuss Mary’s encounter with the Archangel Gabriel and the message delivered to her. What did the Angel Gabriel mean when he called Mary “highly favoured” of the Lord? Does this phrase have a deeper meaning that reveals more about Mary’s role among women? What does the phrase “highly favoured” mean for ancient AND modern day Saints of God?
The angel Gabriel comes to Mary and foretells of her role and mission, to bear a child. She is a pure vessel, a virgin, and although she didn’t understand how this would be accomplished, she submitted herself as the “handmaid”, or servant of the Lord. And when the Shepherds proclaimed to Mary the things that they were told by the angel, Mary pondered these things in her heart. For as Jesus taught, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also,” and so Mary heeded the words of the angel.
HIGHLY FAVORED OF THE LORD
Mary was greeted by an angel of the Lord, who declares to Mary, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28). At first Mary is troubled by this “greeting.” She doesn’t understand what it means, and was concerned as to what type of “salutation” this might be. What does it mean to be “highly favored of the Lord?”
The phrase “highly favored” in the Greek translation of this New Testament phrase comes from the word “charitoó” or χαριτόω. The word itself means, to “endow with grace, or to bestow with grace.” The word “endow” is a familiar one in my religious upbringing. It’s used often, but not often understood. What does it mean to be endowed, and even further, what does the phrase “endowed with grace” mean?
TO BE ENDOWED
The Apostle Paul refers to an endowment given to the “elect” of God. The greek word “enduo” (taken from the word endow) is translated over and over again in the New Testament in various contexts. Used in a symbolic context, the meaning is always the same—enduo means “to put on, clothe another with a garment, to sink into clothing.”
Over and over in the New Testament, we find this word enduo used in phrases that describe, putting on the armor of God, putting on a “new” man, “to put on Christ”, “put on something imperishable”,” put on power from on high”, “put on the wedding garment.” These phrase are more than just putting on a piece of clothing. They are symbolic of something much greater.
AN ENDOWMENT OF GRACE
I always struggled with what the word “grace” meant. I had heard it used a thousand times in scripture, but I never understood what it meant until I experienced it myself. There was a pinnacle moment in my life (after years building up to this moment), where I went to God in prayer, and I knew that I had done everything that I could do, that was within my own power, to change my circumstances, and that I could do no more. And so, I laid my burdens at his feet through prayer. I “gave them up.” And I felt his “grace” tangibly cover me. It was consuming and lasting, and it was a covering—and then I understood what grace meant. It wasn’t because of anything I did, BUT rather, it was ALL because of Him—and my burdens (the yoke) was lifted.
THE ALL ENCOMPASSING GIFT OF GRACE
Grace is the gift of the infinite atonement. It’s an arm of mercy that is forever outstretched to us. When we raise our hands toward heaven, HE extends HIS hand down to us (see ancient Hebrew Characters of the name of God of hands raised toward heaven in prayer, and an arm from heaven extended down towards us). We find that God is one who continually has His arm of mercy outstretched to His children. He seeks us out. He desires to bless us. It is our “acceptance” of this gift that allows HIM to bless us. Do we accept His Grace? Will we “put on Christ?”
THE NAME OF CHRIST
Mary is told she would give birth to a child. The child would be called, “Emmanuel” which means,” God is among us”. And that His name would be JESUS, (Jesus: from Old Testament and Greek translations Yeshua and Joshua) means “one who saves.” His mission was to save us. Jesus Christ, son of God and yet God in the Flesh, came down to dwell among men. His name was a symbol of HIM. To “put on Christ” is more than just a name that we claim to “wear.” We can not claim his name in words only.
MARY AND HER MISSION
Everything Mary would fulfill was foretold in scripture (Matthew 1:22-23). Mary’s mission was announced in scripture before she would ever fulfill it. The “savior of the world” would be born to a virgin—thus fulfilling the prophecy made hundreds of years prior. Can you imagine Mary, and her confusion at this “salutation” from an angel. I love the song “Mary Did you know?” Did she know? Have you ever listened to the lyrics of the hymn, “I Know That My Redeemer Lives” where the song says, “confused at the grace that so fully HE proffers me.” Proffers means to “hold out something that must be accepted.” Do we accept His offering of Grace? Will we accept our calling and election that he bestows upon us? Will we accept His extended arm of mercy?
AS HIS MOTHER WOULD EXPERIENCE
Can you imagine dwelling with God in the Flesh? Can you imagine knowing, understanding, and loving HIS humanity?” Can you imagine what it would feel like to experience His mercy as he walked among you? Can you imagine living amongst Jesus the Christ? The one who was “THE ANOINTED.” Whose mission would be to “save us.” His mission, to extend His arm of mercy?
We don’t have to wait to receive this gift. We can experience this now.
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