Remember Peter, Paul, and Mary?
No, I’m not talking about the US folk-singing trio of the sixties (though I now have If I Had a Hammer stuck in my head…), but a biblical trio mentioned in scripture as being ‘overshadowed’ by the Lord.
The first mention in the New Testament was in Mary’s story when she was visited by the angel Gabriel. That he showed up to begin with and greeted her as one ‘having received grace’ (Literal version) was enough cause for being troubled and confused. Upon listening to his message, of miracle proportions, her response was a bit more sedate – “How will this be…?” – than mine would be – “How in the world??” (possibly followed by, “Are you out of your mind?!” or some other such uncomprehending outburst…)
Gabriel would not be deterred. He had been sent from the realms of Heaven to deliver a message:
The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. (Luke 1:35 NASB)
Mary, being overshadowed, would be enveloped in a haze of brilliancy; invested with an influence incomprehensible by ordinary means. It would not be “how in the world?” but by “not of this world.”
Time marched on. Jesus had been born. He had lived, died, risen, and ascended to His Father. And there in the book of Acts was Peter – fisherman and mender of nets, enlisted disciple, anointed apostle – fulfilling what Jesus had declared, “…whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV)
Of Peter, scripture says:
“And more believing ones were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and of women, so as to carry out the sick in the streets, and to place them on cots and mattresses, that at the coming of Peter, if even his shadow might overshadow some of them. (Acts 5:14-15 LITV)
Peter had been with Jesus. Like Mary (and like many of us believers today), he had been enveloped by the Presence of something he didn’t fully comprehend…until the promised gift of the Holy Spirit came.
The days followed that multitudes, having received the Gospel, carried sick ones out into the open that perchance Peter’s shadow (Strong’s adumbration – forerunner, herald, harbinger) might overshadow some of them. Yet even in those miracle days, Peter was but a forerunner of that which was still to come. And the overshadowing continued.
Then came Paul. He who was appointed to record so much of the New Covenant wrote the following, having entreated the Lord three times to remove the thorn in his flesh:
“And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness. Therefore, I will rather gladly boast in my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may overshadow me.” (II Corinthians 12:9 LITV)
The light of Christ had risen like the dawn over Paul’s spiritual understanding. This incredible journey he had been thrust into midlife had been nothing short of being overshadowed by grace. It had come with a strength and force of power that was not to be resisted.
Much like Mary who surrendered to this grace with, “May it be to me according to your word.”
Not unlike Peter who, when instructed by Jesus to let down the nets after a long night of toiling for nothing, responded with, “But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets [again].” (Luke 5:5 AMP) Obedient surrender to this irresistible grace filled the nets to the point of breaking (overflowing fullness) and eventually led to Peter being declared to be a rock upon which Christ’s church would be built, over which the gates of hell will not prevail. (Matthew 16:18)
Mary’s holy overshadowing. Peter’s forerunner spirit of overshadowing. Paul’s glad boasting in his limitations and feebleness of body and mind that he might be overshadowed by the power of Christ.
Beloved, we are living in the time the ancients, prophets and believers who have gone before longed to see. Even the angels long to look into these things. (I Peter 1:12)
The faith born in them by the Lord’s overshadowing was birthed also for us, without whom they are not yet made complete. (Hebrews 11:40)
Do you know what privilege we carry? With what grace we are being overshadowed?
Do not disbelievingly dismiss your place and time. Overshadowing grace can show up when you least expect it.