The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
This week we are looking closely at the main characters of the Nativity story. Today we continue with Mary, mother of Jesus.
When Mary made her declaration to the angel, “I am the Lord’s servant, may your word to me be fulfilled,” she made an incredible leap of faith. She could not have known the extent of her commitment and what it would bring. While we love to celebrate the beautiful gift of a baby that Mary received in this deal, let’s not forget she was also present to witness her son being persecuted, tortured, and killed in a publicly humiliating manner. So, yes, we love that Mary said “Yes” and God blessed her with being the mother of the Messiah. But God also “blessed” her with tremendous pain and suffering. When the angel told Mary that her son would be a King, she, like everyone else, probably did not picture a King who would give up his own life for others. She probably didn’t imagine the amount of hatred he would invite or the sort of “rules” he would break. I doubt Mary thought about the sort of public discourse that would take place around Jesus, or the ways Jesus would upturn the Jewish belief system in which Mary was steeped.
Mary, like most of us, often think we can say “Yes” to God and still make our own plans. We want to be fully devoted to following Christ, to living a life of service to God and others, but we also want what we want, when we want it. I think the remarkable thing about Mary is that she continued to say “Yes” to God. She nurtured and taught her son, became one of his disciples, then watched him die on a cross. Of course, you and I know the rest of the story. We know that pain and suffering had a purpose. We know that though Jesus died, he rose again three days later.
It is hard to keep saying “Yes” to God over and over. It is easier to just make our own plans and go about our business avoiding difficulty, suffering and sacrifice. While plans are important, and we should all be wise in how we prepare for life, we also have to leave room for God to move. As a mother, I am certain, Mary wanted to hide her son away as soon as the trouble began, but she couldn’t. He wouldn’t. She had to endure the suffering. Sometimes we have to do the same. I am grateful to Mary for her willingness to follow God, even into pain.
When things don’t go the way you thought they would, do you lose faith in God or trust God through the challenge? Are you making plans and waiting for God to join you or are you leaving room for God to move?
God, change my heart to be one of generosity, humility, grace and mercy. Show me how to love at all times, give freely, humble myself before others and submit myself to you. Thank you for the righteousness and faith of Mary. Thank you for the gift of a savior in Jesus. May I live each day in such a way to honor that gift. Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.