The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Luke 1:27-33
Today, I heard a Christmas devotional by Alistair Begg, of Truth for Life, wherein he talked about Mary’s reaction to the news that she would bear the Son of God.
News that would change the world, and rocked Mary’s existence!
Pastor Begg’s teaching included talk about four phases of processing that Mary went through as she tried to comprehend and respond to the message given her by the angel of God concerning Jesus’s conception and birth. Her reaction in each phase is telling.
Phase 1: What Will Be. The angel explains to young Mary that she will conceive and give birth to the Messiah, even though she is yet a virgin. This news that the Messiah’s time has come sets heaven ablaze with joy, but for Mary, who is just now hearing about the actual time of his appearing, there is only confusion.
Phase 2: How Will This Be? Here, Mary resembles me a little bit, but just a little bit, as I have never come to the end of my questioning things. At least not yet. Mary, for her part, can’t fathom how what the angel has said could possibly happen, to her or any other woman. She questions how a virgin might give birth? Not that she might, but how she might. It’s a valid question to ask, don’t you think? We should never be afraid to God for clarity when we have valid questions about his will for us. Never!
Phase 3: Let It Be! After the shock of being visited by an angel wears off, Mary remembers what was foretold about the Jewish Messiah. This angel has provided her with proof of God moving in power among her people. A supernatural occurrence within her own family convinces Mary she needs to believe God. What is the proof the angel provides? Just this: Mary’s aunt, Elizabeth, though old, is with child. Reality sinks in. This is enough evidence to give Mary a toe-hold on the fantastic. Slowly, but surely, she begins to understand.
Phase 4: And Can It Be?! Mary grapples with her belief in what God has foretold, still incredulous that she, Mary, has been chosen among all Jewish women throughout the ages to be the one girl who would give birth to the savior—Her Savior! It’s mind blowing and hard to explain, but she believes what she has been told and is blessed because of that belief.
This Christmas, if you’re having trouble finding enough reality in the Christmas story to gain your own toe-hold on the fantastic, why not spend a little time in Luke’s gospel. There, you will encounter a divine plan for a miraculous birth. Keep an open mind as you read the story. Ask questions of the God who has knocked on our door. When that same compelling evidence that Mary discovered is discovered by you, open the door and let the Savior in. Accept that evidence, and look for the place where your life might intersect with His will this Christmas. You’ll never be sorry you did. I promise!
Pastor Begg provided me with a different perspective on the Christmas story today, and a clearer insight into the working mind of a faithful but confused woman. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading what amounts to my take-away from this important story. I also hope that this Christmas is that Christmas when you become alive in Christ and surrendered to his incredible plan for your life. It’s one amazing journey, I can tell you that.
I’m hoping to see you on the path to Jesus sometime soon. Until then, be a blessing, even as you are blessed!
What part of the Christmas story do you like best? Do you think Mary was able to sleep that night, after her angelic visit?