These words should mean something to us, and not for the reasons that many people attach to them.
This was the greeting extended to a girl in Nazareth, a girl betrothed; she was promised and bound to be wed to the carpenter Joseph. The greeting came from Gabriel, the messenger angel of the Lord. His arrival and his words flustered the girl. She wore her confoundedness at once. She had no idea what this meant for her.
“Fear not,” Gabriel said to her, for she had “found grace with God.”
Noah and Grace
This phrase spoken to Mary comes to us early on in our Bibles. “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” is what we read in Genesis 6:8. In those times, the Lord grieved over what was happening among men. The thoughts of their hearts were only evil continually, the Scriptures tell us. God purposed to make a clean start with His world. He would wash away all that breathed; all would be wiped out but Noah and his family.
The washing that came in Genesis involved a great flood of the waters from the sky and from the depths. An ark built by Noah, over the course of more than 100 years, was the only place of shelter from this storm of wrath that rained down for 40 days and 40 nights.
Among all who were on earth at that point in history, Noah alone got the call. Not much is said about him. It seemed he was simply a man going about his life. He lived before God and men in an evil age and was chosen for a mission unlike any other, and he “did all that God commanded him to do” (Genesis 6:22).
Centuries later, the Lord was about to set in motion another way of washing His world. This one, however, would involve God the Son coming as the Word made flesh. His Blood would serve as the one and only true, effective cleansing agent for hearts stained by sin. Through His death and resurrection, all grace now abounds to all.
But in order to die, Jesus first had to be born. And He had to be born as a man through the womb of a woman. This very promise was made to Eve in the Garden following her fall with Adam. The Lord told Eve that one born of a woman would one day crush the head of the serpent and undo the curse his deception introduced to the human race (see Genesis 3:15).
Mary found grace, and by this grace she was called to be the answer to the promise made to Eve.
Mary was not instructed to build an ark as Noah was asked to do. Rather, she was asked to allow herself to be a vessel, “to conceive and bring forth the Son and call His Name Jesus” (Luke 1: 31). Really, we can say that she found grace in order to be made full of grace, the grace that would come to earth in the Person of the Son of David.'Hail, Mary.' Not because her life was any holier than that of other women. We hail her because her life was full of grace to be the mother to Christ, the Son of the Living God. Click To Tweet
With the Bible stories of Mary and Noah, the Hebrew and Greek words rendered as “found grace” are ones that also could be translated as “met grace.” Grace, in other words, was there for them for what they were asked to do. They met grace in a new and living way. The wording of Genesis 6 in the Hebrew could be read like this: the Lord’s eyes of grace met Noah.
Grace represents a constant activity of the Lord. He is the God of all grace (see 1 Peter 5:10). He chooses the settings by which He relates to those He created in His image.
The heart of God is such that grace operates at all times. We – and all people on this planet – experience grace every morning with the rising of the sun that shines on the just and the unjust. We cannot make ourselves the objects of His grace. Our self-improvement programs count as nothing with the Lord. We do not work ourselves into grace.
Grace is here, there, and everywhere. And sometimes we are allowed to meet grace in the most amazing ways.
A Fullness That is Ours
How did Noah and Mary find grace? They just opened their eyes and grace was there. Grace met Noah and he got busy building. Grace met Mary and she responded, “Be it unto me according His Word” (Luke 1:38). She agreed to enter into her purpose in the incarnation of the Son.
“Hail, Mary.” Not because her life was any holier than that of other women. We hail her because her life was full of grace to be the mother to Christ, the Son of the Living God. The Lord God and His grace were with her before, during, and after her miracle pregnancy.
And the Lord God is with us in the same way. We, too, live in the fullness of grace. The same fullness that prompted Mary to sing these words:
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
“For He who is mighty has done great things for me. And holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:46-50).
All hail Him who gives us the grace to reign by One, Christ Jesus our Lord.