The focus of this series is to take a look at Mary during this Christmas season. My goal is to highlight parts of this story, which we might have overlooked in the past. Our text will be Luke 1 and 2 and a bit from Matthew. I hope you do not skip to my concluding thoughts and overlook the story at the beginning of each post. Discipline yourself to enjoy this beautiful description of the coming of Christ as it is found in the Gospel of Luke.
Birth of Jesus Foretold
26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32He 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, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
34And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
35And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. 36And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
I find it interesting that Luke is the only gospel that shares such vivid details in the virgin birth story. It is almost like Mary is telling this story herself. There are places in Luke’s version that tell us exactly what Mary was feeling as well as her secret thoughts. It might be that Luke interviewed Mary, and this is Mary’s version of what happened. It is totally possible. Besides if Luke did not interview Mary the mother of Jesus, he must have talked to someone extremely close to her. Someone who had listened to her tell the story over and over again. Enough to give us details like we will be discussing in this series.
I have always thought of Mary as a strong, independent, well-rounded young woman pursuing the Proverbs 31 model and rising above all odds to come out on top. I have tried to imagine the perfect teenage girl with the perfect disposition that would merit the favor of God. But, there is no scripture to solidify my assumptions. In fact, Mary’s personality is not described at all. However, we can draw a few conclusions about Mary from the text. First, she was not an immature, emotional mess. She was sharp. When the angel appeared, she was afraid, but she was also trying to figure out what was about to happen. Second, she was rational. She asked Gabriel how this would be since she had never been with a man. And lastly, she was obedient. With no hesitation she accepted the message of the angel by saying, “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.” Even though we have no physical or personality description, it is fair to conclude that Mary was a sensible, observant, and submissive young woman.
As we meditate on this passage, it would serve us mothers well to think back to the first moment we found out we were pregnant. Some of us were elated, some scared. I cried. I was not ready and it was a super scary time for us. Now, think about Mary… She was not brought up with any training to become the mother of a king. She was not given a special education or beauty treatments. She had no preparation for becoming the vessel God would use to bring the Savior into the world. Yet, God chose her. Imagine how many times she must have told herself that she was not crazy. Imagine what the weeks leading up to her awareness of pregnancy must have felt like. Fear. Doubt. Confusion. Then, finally, the moment came when she knew that what Gabriel had told her was real; she was pregnant.
Mary knew in her heart of hearts that the angel Gabriel had visited her and told her great things, which were coming to pass. I think she always believed. But in the dark moments of doubt, fear and loneliness she clung to the words spoken to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favor with God”… and hope revived!