by Dan Gibson
When it was announced that the theme for this year’s Advent meditations would be “making room for Jesus”, my mind immediately migrated to the topic of sovereign grace in this 400th anniversary year of the Synod of Dort. In what sense may we rightfully speak of making room for Jesus when he occupies our internal territory by his sovereign will?
As I reflected on this, Luke’s account of the angel’s announcement to Mary, found in Luke 1:26-38, provided me with a real-life example of the concordance between God’s establishment of residence in the citadel of our hearts, and our making room for him.
Gabriel, God’s chosen messenger, comes to Mary, and announces to her the vocation that will be uniquely hers: “You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will call him Jesus.”
How? Mary asks.
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
In our present age, with the primary tenet of its faith being our human autonomy and self-determination, this divine pronouncement is heresy of the rankest order.
We could accept perhaps a divine colloquy of this nature:
“Mary, in the eternal counsel of the Triune Godhead, we had this idea of the incarnation, where a human mother would give birth to Son of God. We wanted to check with you, however, in light of all the inconvenience, to see if you would be OK with this. We’ll give you some time to think about it, and we’ll be back in a little while to get your answer, and just as a matter of good practice, get your signature on the informed consent paperwork, if you’re willing.”
God’s plan and intent for a most intimate residence in her is simply announced to Mary. No questions of Mary, just the most profound declaration of God’s habitation within her, through her, for her sake and the sake of the world. And yet, Mary also makes room. Not merely a passive receptacle of the burgeoning presence of the Son of God, Mary declares in her turn, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
I suggest for your reflection this Advent season that God’s way with us, as he makes himself resident in us, is analogous in important ways to the incarnation. Our rebirth through the presence and power of the Spirit is accomplished by God in the continuing exercise of his sovereign grace. May we, with regenerate hearts and with Mary, declare: “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
Footnote: Canons of Dort, Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine, Article 16