The virgin birth of Jesus touches me in a very female way in relating to sweet Mary as a mother. Any mother beholding those scenes of recent Jesus movies of Mary watching her beloved Son tortured and murdered on that cross can’t help but feel the deep emotions and horror that Mary felt as she watched and fell at His feet sobbing.
It really happened!
No words to describe it!
So many questions.
We don’t know much about her. We know she was young and poor and a devout believer in God. And at the time of the angels announcement of her pregnancy she is in love with Joseph.
What God asks Mary to do will change her life forever. She was just a teenager.
Gone are the happy dreams of a beautiful wedding; gone are the days of sweet anticipation; gone are the carefully-thought out plans for the wedding feast; gone are the hopes for “the most beautiful wedding to the most wonderful man who ever lived”; gone are all her girlish hopes of a quiet life in the home she would personally decorate.
She will be married, but not before rumors spread through the countryside. There will be a wedding feast, but not the way she planned. She will have a home, and it will be filled with children, but over her family will rest an uneasy cloud of dark questions.
It will all happen, but not the way she expected.
Mary quite simply did not know what to make of it. It’s as if someone you’ve never seen came up to you and said, “Good news. This is your lucky day. God has chosen you for a special blessing.” How do you respond to that?
“CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE GOING TO HAVE A BABY!”
But that’s not the half of it. Without a pause, Gabriel proceeds to tell her something that–to use a 21st century term Mary almost certainly wouldn’t have used–blows her mind. He tells her she’s going to have a baby. And not just any baby. She’s going to give birth to the Son of God.
She only has one question, a technical matter she would like cleared up: “How can this be”, Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” This is a perfectly natural question. Mary is betrothed but not formally married. She has never had sexual relations with any man. How then can she become pregnant and bear a son?
“The Holy Spirit will come upon 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.”
The key point in Gabriel’s explanation is that what is about to happen to Mary will be the result of the direct intervention from God.
The Holy Spirit is the agent of the Virgin Birth; overshadowing is the means of the Virgin Birth; the Son of God is the result of the Virgin Birth.
In the history of the church, Mary has often been portrayed as a kind of misty, other-worldly figure. If you look at some of the great paintings of Mary, they make her look so peaceful and beatific that you almost forget she was a real person. But Luke makes it clear that she was very real, with very real doubts, very real questions and very real faith. Nowhere is this seen with more clarity than in Luke:
“I am the Lord’s servant”, Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.
Mary said Yes. Yes to God, Yes to the impossible, Yes to the plan of God.
And all these things were just the beginning. Mary could not know what the future would hold. Before it was all over, she would experience heartache, opposition, slander, confusion, anguish, despair and loneliness.
In the end she would face the greatest pain a mother can endure when she would watch her son die on a cross. She was changed when she conceived Him through the power of the Holy Spirit, but, I believe, nothing could have prepared her for that horrific night of watching her first born baby boy, who only loved, die a tortuous death.
She would never forget it and it changed her….but, then again, not as much as three days later seeing Him come back in all of His glory!
What a story!
Mary didn’t know the full cost of saying yes that day. But having made her decision she never looked back.
When God said, “Are you willing to believe the impossible?”, Mary said, “Yes I am!” Without that Yes, there would be no Christmas.
A WOMAN GOD COULD TRUST
What about your ‘yes’?
Mary said Yes to shame and glory; she said Yes to God’s power; she said Yes to the impossible.
If somehow Mary could be here today and we could ask her, “Was it worth it?”, she would say “Yes”, I am sure of it. Because now she knows that because of her obedience we are free– because she allowed God to use her to bring our Savior.
So then, how do I relate to Mary’s example in this century? What can I learn from her today? How can I live my life through her example?
♥ She is a model of openness to great possibilities. Can I be open to great possibilities in my life? Supernatural possibilities?
♥ She is a model of faith in the face of many natural doubts. Can I believe God when the natural way of things look like there is no other way?
It’s still true that “Nothing is impossible with God”. That’s as true today as it was 2,000 years ago. It’s also true that somebody has to say Yes or else the impossible will never happen.
I have no doubt that some of you reading this…
Are carrying heavy burdens today.
And Christmas will be lonely this year.
Some of you are facing a financial crisis that looks hopeless to you right now.
Some of you are out of work and don’t have a single lead on a good job.
Some of you are looking at a marriage that seems worse than hopeless.
Some of you are estranged from members of your own family.
Some of you have children who are far away from God.
Some of you feel lonely and far away from God yourselves.