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.”Tweet
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! 🎉