Merry Christmas! I hope your day was full of merriment and cheer as we gathered together to celebrate the birth of our Savior.
Isn’t the story of Jesus’ birth amazing?
Every year without fail, I am always astounded by the miracle that brought our Savior into the world. And, this year, Mary has really stood out to me.
Have you ever sat down and thought about what it was like for Mary during that first Christmas?
What thoughts must have been going through her head when Gabriel visits her? A young teenage girl, of no importance in anyone’s mind, quietly readying herself for marriage, when an angel appears to her and says, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
Mary’s response – similar to how most of us would react – is fear and confusion: “But [Mary] was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.”
She tries to discern what on earth the angel means. She’s troubled.
I can just imagine what she must have been thinking: “Me? I am favored? The Lord is with me? Me?”
And how does the angel respond? “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
Honestly, I think this probably wasn’t a satisfying answer for her. “Do not be afraid? This is terrifying! And, what could I have possibly done to find favor with God?”
Gabriel continues, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Mary response makes me laugh, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Nevermind the fact that your child is going to be the Son of God. Or that he is going to rule the whole earth.
Her answer makes sense, though. She knows about the Messiah. She knows that he’s going to rule the earth. As a Jew, she’s grown up always knowing these truths.
What she’s never heard before is that she’s going to play a part in this story!
Gabriel assures her that the Holy Spirit is going to cause her to conceive Jesus. Then, he tells her that her relative Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren, has also born a son. “For nothing will be impossible for God.”
Nothing. Nothing will be impossible.
God can choose to use a young virgin to birth the Savior of the world as a lowly baby. And, not only is it possible, it’s miraculous and wonderful.
And, Mary gets it. She believes.
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” “I am yours, Lord. I will bear your Son. I will raise him and teach him and love him. Your will be done.”
What faith Mary had. Isn’t it just amazing?
She didn’t fully understand, yet, she still has an unwavering faith.
Jesus is conceived in her, and for nine months, she deals with sickness, and discomfort, for God’s child to be born.
People scowl at her, and mock her for bearing a child, they believe, to be out of sin. But, she bears it all for God.
She travels from her home, at nine months pregnant, with her betrothed husband so that the Son of Man can be born in Bethlehem as the prophecies foretold.
It’s cold, and tiring, and long, and miserable. And yet, she does it for God.
Then, after all of that, Jesus is born.
“And she gave birth to her first born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger.”
Can you imagine gazing into eyes of your baby, after hours of painful childbirth, knowing that He is Emmanuel – the Son of God? What must it have been like to watch Jesus as he sleeps in the place which animals eat out of, knowing that he is the King of kings?
“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
There is peace. Jesus is born.
Isn’t that amazing? Mary’s faith is encouraging!
But, my favorite part watching all of this and thinking about Mary, is the song of praise she sings in Luke 1:46. She doesn’t sing to her God because of the birth of Jesus, but before she even holds the baby in her arms. She praises God when she finds out she’s pregnant. She doesn’t wait to praise God when she sees the results, she trusts that he will do what he says.
That takes faith.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on 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 for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”