Grace Freely Given
“Oh you shouldn't have; but I’m really glad you did!” How many times have you uttered those words, or had them said to you? When we hear, or speak those words, it’s because someone really went above and beyond with their gift giving. Maybe you’ll get to say that this Christmas! The great news is, we could say that to God, because in Christ, He has given us the amazing gift of grace. It is a gift, by definition, that we do not deserve!
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, a conversation captured in Luke 1:26-38, he told her that she was “highly favored.” (Luke 1:28). What did that mean and what does it mean for you and me?
Mary was a young virgin richly blessed with God’s grace.
It’s imperative that we understand that Mary was a virgin who immaculately conceived Jesus by the work of the Holy Spirit. John MacArthur notes that the importance of the virgin birth cannot be overstated. This is a vital faith truth for us.
While Mary was a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus, she was not a virgin permanently. The idea of the perpetual virginity of Mary is not Biblical. (Matthew 1:25) In fact, Mary and Joseph had a number of children after Jesus was born, including four sons and a number of daughters. God blessed Mary with several children.
But, it’s important to understand that the Bible never says that Mary was anyone but an ordinary human being who God chose to use in an extraordinary way. She was not sinless. She was in need of grace, just like you and me. In fact, the Greek word that we translate as “highly favored,” literally means “much grace” or “full of grace.” Mary was a recipient of God’s grace, just like you and me, not a dispenser of grace. This specific word is actually used in Ephesians 1:6 to describe the grace that is freely given to all Believers in Christ… 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. Ephesians 1:6
What is grace? Grace is “unmerited favor”. Grace is a blessing we receive despite the fact that we do not deserve it. Distinguishing between mercy and grace helps us to understand both… Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we don’t deserve. Mary was a righteous woman and favored (graced) by God; but to be clear, Mary needed God’s grace and a Savior, just like you and me. And Mary understood that about herself too. Later, in this chapter, she declares, 47 …my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, Luke 1:47
God freely offers His grace to us in Jesus Christ!
All of us today, just like Mary then, need God’s amazing grace. In fact the Bible is really clear about that. Sin has been a problem for mankind from the very beginning of time.
20 Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous,
no one who does what is right and never sins. Ecclesiastes 7:20
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 1 John 1:8
But here’s where the grace of God comes in… This is the Good News! A Savior is Born… This is why God sent Jesus to earth…
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23
Hopefully you get some good gifts this Christmas; but you’ll never get a Christmas gift better than the one God gave us that first Christmas. Grace is God’s good gift to all who believe, who by faith receive Jesus as Savior and Lord.
While grace is freely given, it must be freely received.
25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. Romans 3:25
No gift can be enjoyed if it is not opened (received). If you have not yet received God’s gift of grace, don’t wait! You can invite Jesus to be your Savior and Lord today. Gabriel would go on to tell Mary she was to name the son she would bear, the Son of the Most High, Jesus. This name has significant meaning. For much more, including what the name Jesus means, as well as the questions that Mary asks, and her response to God’s plan, click here to listen to: Good News! Part 2 - Grace is Freely Given.