The One Who Received Grace
“Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Luke 1:26-30 NKJV
The promise which our God made with Abraham was ultimately Immanuel – that God will be with him – and look what the angel came and said to Mary. The angel said, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you.” The Lord is with you, he said.
In other words, by the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, Immanuel is accomplished, and the promise that “He will be with you” is being spoken to Mary by the angel. She was the first one among people to hear this. The angel was speaking to her on behalf of God.
So, what kind of person was she? She was favored by God, meaning she had received grace. Between God and us is a wall. Why is there a wall? Because of sin. Consequently, we cannot see the face of God nor be with Him. But how can we be one with Him? Because we received grace. So the angel said, “Rejoice, highly favored one!” This means, ‘since you have God’s favor (grace), you can be at peace.’ What is the most distinct characteristic of a person whom God is with? It is peace. Being at peace. Because people are cut off from God by a wall, they have no peace. But if God is with them, they have everlasting peace.
Peace means happiness. Happiness. Eternal happiness. So after the angel said, “Rejoice, highly favored one!” he continued to say, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” There are three things being said here. ‘Highly favored one,’ ‘rejoice (be at peace)’ and ‘do not be afraid.’ So, she is being told not to be afraid because God is with her.
People do not have peace. They have not received grace and hence have not had any peace and, in turn, live in constant fear. They cannot believe in God because of their fear. They cannot obey God’s command because of their fear. Why did Ananias and Sapphira do what is so foolish? They were afraid. They felt that if they dedicated all of the money, they would not have anything to live on. They were anxious and hence could not act by faith.
When Jesus was travelling on a boat with His disciples, the disciples were afraid. Jesus already told them, “Let’s go to the other side.” If so, they should believe that His words will be fulfilled and not be afraid whatever the situation. But when the storm came, they were terrified that they might sink. Yet the Lord’s mouth had already spoken those words. “Let’s cross to the other side.” If that is the case, whether they will have to deep dive the whole way there or fly there, they just needed to have faith that they will get there somehow and thus be at peace. However, they could not. They were in fear. So the Lord said, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith!”
Faith and fear are completely opposite. Why can’t people lay their hands and pray? Because they are afraid. ‘What if the person doesn’t get better? What if I am humiliated in front of people?’ These are what prevent them.
Fear, therefore, hinders our faith life. When people are called to come to work on the Lord’s Day because they will get paid double the wage, they go. Why? They think it is an opportunity they should not miss, or else they cannot make ends meet. They cannot give tithes. Why? They are afraid. They have fears like, ‘If I give this, how can I send my kids to college?’ So, one needs to know that he has received grace. If one knows that he has received grace, God will give peace and then entrust that person with His work. What kind of work? The work of bringing forth and rearing the Son of God in this world. There are many kinds of duties in this world. But the most important one for mankind is to be the womb for Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Being the woman who can bear this role is the greatest and most important duty one can be given. And to whom did He entrust the greatest and most important duty? The one who found favor with God, that is, the one who received grace.
Thus, anyone who is afraid and without peace cannot fulfil this duty. Only the one who knows he or she has received grace can bear the duty. That is why Mary was not afraid even until the final moment when Jesus died on the cross. Even though she watched it all, she was not afraid but was at peace in her heart. The words of blessing that the angel said were true to the end. That is why this woman was given this duty to bear.
In order to bear such a duty, one must acknowledge that he or she has received grace. Regardless of the circumstances, though pressed on every side, in the face of trials, in the midst of financial hardships, subjected to people’s attacks, and even if put to death, we have to be at peace to the end, confessing that we received grace, not having any fear until the end. When we do that, we will behold glory in the end.
Let us give thanks to God for He has given us grace, more peace and happiness and entrusted us with duties. Let’s pray that we will be able to serve Him to the end without fear.
Our Father God, we thank you for giving us grace. We are grateful that God is with someone like us. Help us to obey the Lord’s commands and fulfil our duties, and always grant us a peaceful heart and freedom from fear. Please prevent us from being tempted by fear and disobeying your commands. Guide us to make plans with wisdom and clear understanding, and may we not go ahead of you in our actions. We pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sermon by Pastor Ki-Taek Lee
The Director of Sungrak Mission Center
Sermon on December 6, 2012
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center English Team