by Duane Maust
Luke 1: 26-38, 46-55
December 21, 2008
Mary’s life is a challenge to me. When I think about this little girl and how she responded to the angel and chose to follow God, it is a challenge for me to live like that. When the angel came to her, did Mary know what was ahead?
Imagine the shock. An angel appears to you and says that the Lord favors you and is with you. This in itself makes this story hard for many to believe. Angels don’t just appear to a lot of people. Here is a very young girl and something this important happening to this Jewish girl. Mary was not a wealthy woman or an influential person.
Why did God choose her? It is God’s plan for Mary and for the world.
The angel tells her that she is going to have a baby. Now this is not going to be just any kid. This is going to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Mary knew about the prophesied Messiah. But I figure she was shocked that it was her that would give birth to him.
I read a story of a little boy that came home from Sunday School and his mother asked him what his Sunday School lesson was about. The little boy said that they learned about this man named Moses that was leading some people away from the Egyptians and the Egyptians were chasing them. As they were being chased, they came to a huge river and Moses had his men build a bridge over the river and all the people crossed over the bridge. As soon as they crossed over, Moses called for air strikes and the planes blew up the bridge so the Egyptians could not capture them. The mother asked the boy if that was really what the teacher taught him? Then the little boy said, “No, that’s not what she said, but you would never believe the story that she told us.”
How can we believe that the water rolled back for the Israelites and they went through the river on dry land and then when the Egyptian army was in the middle of the river, it closed on them?
Mary’s story is another of those stories that is hard to believe. I am thinking that Mary may have had trouble wrapping her mind around all this.
I suppose Mary said, “So I am pregnant and my boyfriend didn’t even sleep with me. How can I explain that I am a virgin and be pregnant? So when people find out, they may even stone me.”
Read Luke 1:35-38
After this deal with the angel, it didn’t take Mary long to go visit her relative, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was also pregnant with a miracle baby, John the Baptist.
Do you think they talked about morning sickness? Or what foods they started to crave?
Where is Joseph with all this? Will he leave her?
Matt: 1:19-25 tells us more about Joseph. Let’s see how he responds to this big deal.
Joseph hangs in there. He did listen to his dream. He did do what God was wanting.
The way Joseph and Mary responded are such examples of faith. Their responses are encouraging. They were young and scared to death. Here is this little Christian girl becoming pregnant.
The angel Gabriel speaks words of encouragement and comfort to Mary, “The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid.” Then comes the unbelievable announcement, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.”
Mary’s response is powerful and clear, it a response of a true follower of God, a person who hears the words of God and acts on it.
Mary says, “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.”
She did not know the consequence of her choice at that time. Would she be stoned by angry mobs for being an unmarried mother? Would she be rejected by her family and by Joseph? Would she be famous for giving birth to the Son of the Most High?
Mary was not promised a smooth path because she said yes to God. She was reassured that God was with her and that she didn’t need to be afraid. Think about the impact that Mary’s decision had on the world. As Mary experienced the pains of childbirth, did she wonder if she did right? Do you think she would rerun the angel’s words through her mind? “The Lord is with you.”
Then when Mary sat at the foot of the cross, watching her son die, what was going through her mind?
Mary, as you sat under the cross and watched your son suffer, did you think about that day the angel came to you and told you things will work out? How could have all this suffering been spared? But that is what Jesus came for.
I admire how Mary never gave God the cold shoulder. She stuck to commitment to follow through, no matter what the outcome. She was a woman who pondered things in her heart, who was devoted to prayer and attentive to how God us working in the world. (Luke 2:19, Acts 1:14)
God is calling us to many different things. We are called to different occupations, schooling, raising families. Some of what God is calling us to may still be a mystery. God will give us strength at that time for that task.
Like Mary was called, we respond to God’s call by stepping out, one foot at a time into the unknown. We only see our way as we live each day attentive to the ways God is working where we are. We do not know for sure where we are headed or what the future has in store. But we keep stepping.
We can trust in God’s words given to Mary through the angel Gabriel, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.
May our responses be like Mary’s: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto according to thy word.” Luke1:38 KJV
One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Mary, Did You Know?” We will close with it.