Mary gave birth to a child, but the difference is she also gave birth to a child that was to suffer, be crucified and die for our sins. She was not impregnated in the usual way. This child was sent to her by God through the Holy Spirit.
We actually start learning about Mary in the Old Testament.
The first prophesy referring to her is found in one of the very first chapters in the Bible: Genesis 3:15 right after the snake tempted Eve…… God said to the snake “from now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and her offspring and your offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”
The second prophesy occurs in Isaiah 7:7-14: When the people of Jerusalem were afraid of being attacked and demolished but did not believe when the Lord said “this invasion will never happen”, ending in “All right then, the Lord Himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a Son and will call Him Immanuel…”God is with us.”
The third prophesy is from Jeremiah 31:22: when the Lord wanted to show His mercy on Israel again……” how long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new and different to happen-Israel will embrace her God.
The fourth and final prophesy occurs in Micah 5:2-3, again Jerusalem is under attack from many nations, and the Lord says………But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. The people of Israel will be abandoned to their enemies until the time when the woman in labor gives birth to her son. Then at last his fellow countrymen will return from exile to their own land.
And then of course we get to the New Testament where the stories of Mary are very familiar to all of us. It starts in Luke 1: 26:
I’m going to tell the story in some of my own words and some with references to the Bible, and as the feelings and experiences of a mother.
Imagine, the shock of an angel appearing to a young girl, a virgin, and telling her that she is to have a baby by a Spirit and being told that he will be a special and Holy child. He also told her that she was highly favored. It would be very intimidating, frightening but to be highly favored by God is awesome.
Remember, before our modern day thinking, the stigmatism of having a baby out of wedlock, surely she must have wondered what this would do to her engagement and marriage to Joseph.
Despite everything, Mary was a faithful servant of God. She believed and was willing to do whatever the Lord wanted. She glorified the Lord.
Joseph was visited by an angel in a dream and told “do not be afraid “ Matthew 1:20 and he also obeyed and went ahead with his marriage to Mary.
Then, very near to her time of delivering, she had to travel on a donkey to Bethlehem. Imagine being almost 9 months pregnant and having to take a trip on a donkey and then getting there, tired, with a sore back and in need of a bath, there is no room at the Inn. Then, after finding only a stable, she gives birth there and she has to use a manger for this Holy child, her Son.
Next is the story of the shepherds being visited by angels and what the angels told them, about a Savior being born in Bethlehem.
Shepherds and kings paid homage to her Son and she quietly accepted all the things she heard about her Child. She held them in her heart and treasured these moments.
Then, the first fear of losing Him, she has to hide Him, flee the country with Him, because Herod wants to kill Him.
When they are finally able to come back from Egypt, they go on their annual trip to Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Jesus stays behind in the temple and she loses him for 3 days. How frantic she must have been, looking for Him. When they finally found Him, He tied to explain why He had to stay there: Luke 2:49-50, but then went home with them and was obedient to them and He grew in wisdom and stature. Again the Bible makes reference to her treasuring all these things in her heart.
But, like all mothers, she had to let him go to do his ministry.
The first miracle of Jesus is the result of Mary’s intervention at the wedding at Cana. They run out of wine and Mary knowing what Jesus is capable of, asks him to do something about it, even though He says: “Woman, my time has not yet come” John 2:4. He is a good Son and she tells the servants to listen to Him.
During the next three years she sees him only sporadically and then has to face the fact that her Son is to be crucified. This is the part, as a mother and my love for Jesus that deeply touches my heart. She has to go through the horror of watching her Son carrying a cross, bleeding and broken and being nailed to that cross and dying that horrible death and not being able to do anything for him.
As women we know what it’s like when our children are sick and suffer and some of you may know what it is like to lose a child. Mary had more than her share, but she also knew she was the mother of a very special person, the mother of Jesus, the Messiah, our Savior.
And for her and all of us the story has a happy ending. Jesus rose from the dead, ascended into heaven and is sitting at the right hand of God, the Father and He will come again to make a new heaven and a new earth Rev 21:1 and there will be no more tears or pain: Rev. 21:4.
So, let’s remember this Christmas season, amid all the hustle and bustle, what Christmas is really all about.
Let’s keep Christ in Christmas!
Al & Liz, Matthew 1:25
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