5 Occurrences Pointing to a Messiah

A pregnancy. A young girl. Unwed. It looks like all the makings of a very made-up story. According to commentator Matthew Henry, Luke 1:48 shows us the state of Mary. He looked with pity on the humble estate of His servant. Mary wasn’t just a poor girl, she was likely the least of her family. Unjustly neglected.

It’s God’s M.O. throughout the Scripture. Using the lowly, especially women, for His purpose and glory.

  • Leah – hated by the people – the Lord “opened her womb”. The lineage of Jesus.
  • Hannah – provoked and insulted – the Lord gave her a son, Samuel.
  • And Mary – the lowliest among her people – mother of our Savior.

Just as we lack faith when God has promised us something, I’m sure Mary did too. Just as the Lord needs to give us “signs” along the way, He did for Mary too.

First, He sent an angel. Wow! If a big ol’ angel came down and told you something, I’m thinking you would believe it! But, first, she doubted. After he greeted her with a booming “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28), the Scripture says she was “greatly troubled” and tried to figure out what he was saying.




She must have thought “Why would an angel call me ‘favored one’? He must be talking to someone else.” As she looks around to see whom else he is talking to. Until she realized there is no one. It is her and her alone. So, she listens. She hears what he says. Still questioning, in the middle of Gabriel’s declaration she interrupts, “How? I’m a virgin!” Gabriel continues and her heart begins to believe. She feels an inkling of hope that the God of the universe has picked her. Nerves swirling inside her stomach, hands trembling, she humbly accepts the proclamation.

Second, Elizabeth. Mary’s cousin. Gabriel told Mary Elizabeth was with child. Mary knew Elizabeth was beyond childbearing. She was barren. She had to see for herself. It was so important to her, she traveled 80-100 miles through hill country to visit her. Maybe by foot, maybe on a donkey. Either way, not easy. She had to know, and she needed to tell someone. Those must have been the longest 3-4 days to her. Wondering how Elizabeth would receive her. Knowing she needed confirmation, but would she get it? Small, timid, and exhausted, I imagine a tear beginning to stream down her face as she approaches the house. Fear is finding its place in her heart again. Then God. Faithful. Kind. Gentle. Offers the assurance Mary needs. Elizabeth runs to hug her cousin calling her “the mother of my Lord”. Elizabeth telling her the baby inside her lept as she approached. Affirming over her “… blessed are you who believed…”

Third, Joseph. How would he take this? We speculate she didn’t see him until after her return from Elizabeth’s. By then, the baby bump was appearing. When Joseph saw her, he didn’t know what to make of it. He heard what Mary said, but couldn’t quite believe that story! Again, God. In a dream, the angel tells Joseph everything, confirming Mary’s story. God chose him to raise the Messiah. He takes Mary as his wife, humbled, scared, awed. His charge was to protect her and the baby and he would do it well.

Fourth, here come the shepherds. Minding their own business. Doing their job. Then suddenly, the glory of the Lord shone around them. This isn’t like a flashlight turned on, this is doxa, Heavenly brightness! Shading their eyes, looking upward and around trying to figure out where it’s coming from. And the big angel voice booms, “Fear not!” Yeah, right. Yet, a calmness comes over them as they hear what the angel is saying. A birth? A Savior? In Bethlehem? But, if the angel speaking wasn’t enough, an entire angel army appears singing and praising God, proclaiming peace over the Earth. The angels leave and the shepherds make haste back to Bethlehem. They find Mary and Joseph and a baby in a manger, just as it was told to them. Here is little Mary. Just her, her husband and the baby. She had to swaddle Him after the birth. No midwife or mother to help her. Alone in a stable. Only place to lay her baby was in a feeding trough. Doubt overwhelming her yet again. Then shepherds. They tell the story and Mary fades into the background. Finds her quiet place and the most profound thing happens.

“Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

She pondered the angel. She pondered her visit with Elizabeth. She pondered Joseph’s dream. And now shepherds. There was no more doubt. At this moment. She believed all that had happened, and she treasured it. Stored it deep in her heart. Little did she know how much she would need to remember it all in a short 33 years.

Fifth, and last, just in case there was any more doubt, Simeon. A devout man in Jerusalem, God had revealed Himself to him many years prior, confirming he would see the Christ before he died. On the day Mary and Joseph were taking Jesus to the temple to present Him to God, Simeon felt a nudge to go to the temple as well. He saw the little family, took the baby in his arms and said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”

~Luke 2:29-32

Mary and Joseph marveled at what he said. Not only did Simeon confirm this was the Messiah, but this Messiah was for all people. Gentiles and Jews.

With so many occurrences pointing to a Messiah, how could anyone not believe? Yet, they didn’t. Many didn’t. We see it from this end and just know we would have believed. But, would we? What is pointing to the Messiah in your life right now? What is pointing to the return of a Messiah today? Luke tells us that Mary was blessed. Well, sure, we can see that. She was the mother of God. Yet, that isn’t why Luke called her blessed. Before the baby bump, before Elizabeth, before the shepherds, she believed. And because she did, she was blessed.

May you believe what the Lord is pointing to in your life. May you treasure and ponder all He has shown you. Then, your life will be blessed beyond anything you can imagine.

Merry Christmas, friends! And a blessed New Year! 🎉

What is Your Reason for Celebrating Christmas?

What is your fondest memory of Christmas? Were you a child or is it more recent? Do you love big family gatherings with friends all around? Or do you prefer small, intimate dinners with a few friends or immediate family?

I come from a large extended family. Forty plus people would gather in my grandparents little 4 room house Christmas Eve night. Rooms filled with people and laughter. I loved catching up with my cousins and aunts and uncles. I loved the smells coming from the kitchen – ham, potatoes, pies. I loved not feeling alone; feeling part of something big.

I remember watching the presents build up under the tree as more people came to the house. It was so exciting even though I knew only one was for me. They were for the matriarch. Grandma. When dinner was over and the long awaited anticipation of opening presents was upon us, as many as possible would crowd into that little living room. Grandma would sit in her little rocker and I and my cousins would play the elves and distribute the gifts. I loved watching the pile of gifts begin to tower up around my spry little 5 foot grandmother. As we placed another one at her feet she would exclaim, “You all really shouldn’t buy me so much…” while, at the same time, the glow on her face displayed the love she felt. It was one of two days in the year Grandma was truly honored. Christmas and her birthday. What I remember most about watching her was thinking “I can’t wait to be a grandma one day and be honored.” I did not understand what all that entailed! (One day I’ll blog just about Grandma)

Although there was lots of love and laughter on those Christmas Eve nights, there was very little Jesus. Grandma certainly loved Jesus, but to the others He was for Sunday mornings. I mean we all knew Christmas was a celebration of the birth of Jesus, but it didn’t go much beyond that. There was a small nativity, made of wood on the bookshelf in the living room. Everything else pointed to the red and green and Santa Claus. But, I knew Grandma believed deeper than the rest of us. I watched her read her devotion every day at the kitchen table. I watched her write a tithe check every week to the church. And because I knew, there is one gift, in all the years of gift giving to Grandma, I will never forget.

I had to be around 10 years old; old enough to walk to WalMart and shop by myself. I remember looking at all the shelves trying to find that one special gift to let Grandma know I loved her. And I saw it! A large print Bible. It was huge! I mean, large print takes up a lot of space. It came with it’s own wooden easel stand that you could set on a table with the Bible open to your favorite verse. I was so excited to give it to her. Over 40 years ago. I still remember. Everyone laughed when she opened it because of the large print. But, she looked at me and with a gleam in her eye said “It’s perfect.” That Bible sat open on different verses on top of the console TV until she died over 20 years later. I wish I had kept it, but in my 30s at the time I’m sure I saw no need for a large print Bible.

After I married Scott and had children, it became important to me to honor Jesus on Christmas above everyone else. I would bake a big birthday cake and decorate with the words HAPPY BIRTHDAY JESUS across the top. I would take that cake to the big family gathering. I know they all thought it a little cheesy, but I didn’t care. It was those years, toward the end of grandmas life, that things began to change. She would ask me to read a poem or a story about the birth of Jesus. She would ask Scott to pray before we all herded through the food line. 

After she passed, Christmas Eve was never the same. Her little house gone, different aunts would host it year after year. There was no matriarch to honor and the Jesus cake and story readings stopped. Although we still prayed before the meal. Eventually, my kids grew and going back to Missouri became more difficult. We began spending Christmases with just our little family, here in South Carolina. I baked the cake a couple of years, but for some reason I stopped. We read the Christmas story every Christmas morning before we opened the presents, but that stopped too. 

I am the matriarch now. Scary! I am the Grandma (the Gigi actually). It’s time to start new traditions with my boys. It’s time to get in the kitchen and make Christmas goodies. It’s time to bring back the Happy Birthday Jesus cake. There is no doubt in our household that Christmas is the celebration of a Savior but it’s time to slow down again and remember. The presents will get opened, the food will get eaten, the movies watched and the games played. But first we remember. We read the story, we light the candles. 

I think the biggest tradition in our little family is that we don’t have a tradition! And it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is Jesus. The joy He brings and the reason for celebrating. Can you slow down when you are all together? Be brave. Even start small. Maybe a prayer before the meal. Read the account of His birth in Luke chapter 2. Make a cake. Light the candles. Remember. Joy to the world, the Lord is come!

I pray you and yours have a blessed and joyful Christmas!!