As our family has been thinking of Christmas and reading the Christmas story, I began thinking more and more about Mary and her very important role in the Christmas story. I wanted to share some of my thoughts with you and how Mary and Joseph’s faith applies to each one of us.
The following is a lesson I gave at my church circle on Mary, mother of Jesus.
Mary, as the mother of Jesus Christ, stands apart from all women in history. She is known as the most blessed among all women. She has become all that is fine and noble. No woman in the entire history of the world has been so honored and revered. Yet, Mary had a very humble beginning. She was a peasant girl living in Nazareth. Mary was probably in her early twenties or even younger at the time of the conception. Mary was told she was to give birth to a son and he was to be conceived through the Holy Spirit. Mary had to choose to make God’s will a priority over her relationship with Joseph. She had to put Joseph in God’s hands and trust that God would help him understand what was happening to her.
Before this, Mary and Joseph had been betrothed, which is a legally binding relationship, but is not sexually binding. The betrothal in these times usually preceded the wedding by about a year. Mary’s faith through this period was stronger than I can imagine. She had to have been scared of what Joseph would say when she told him an angel came to her and told her she would give birth to God’s son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. She also had to have been very concerned for what her family and friends would say about her pregnancy when she and Joseph were not married. She, of course, was extremely concerned about her future with Joseph and whether he would stand by her. At this time, Mary went quietly to her old and more experienced cousin, Elizabeth to tell of the angels visit. In these times such a journey, requiring three days, presented many problems but Mary surmounted all of them, thinking not of the difficulties, but only of the urgency of her visit. Elisabeth was already 6 months pregnant with the future John the Baptist and blessed the “fruit of thy womb” and called Mary “the mother of my Lord”. After approximately 3 months with Elisabeth, she returned to Joseph in Nazareth. Even though she was faced with serious problems of her coming marriage and the social implications of her pregnancy, there is no reference to her unwillingness to give herself to her Creator.
Joseph by this time had also had a visit by an angel in a dream. Joseph is caught between his love for Mary and his righteous unwillingness to expose her to public disgrace. Joseph agreed to follow his faith and take care of Mary and their coming child. Their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem was some 90 miles by donkey up and down hill. The nights were likely cold and rainy and many nights were likely spent under a large tree. Then once they entered Bethlehem and finding no place to stay, having to sleep in a barn and give birth there just shows their incredible faith and perseverance in following God’s plan for them.
Do you have this same faith and perseverance? What is God asking you to do for him today? Are you listening? Is he telling you to spread His word to your friend who doesn’t have a relationship with God? Is he telling you to stop at the homeless shelter you drive by every day and offer to volunteer your time? Is he telling you stop holding that grudge and forgive the person who wronged you? Is he reminding you to go to Him each day in prayer? Mary’s divine mission of being the mother of the only begotten Son of God never faltered from the manger to the cross on Calvary. What is God’s mission for you and are you listening?