“But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Luke 2:19
It is a like a sense of mystery mixed with hope and awe. Can you imagine just what Mary must have felt as she carried, birthed, and first looked upon the face of the newborn God-made-flesh? What feelings must have overwhelmed her soul and spirit in those moments, and perhaps through His lifetime. I want to invite you to take a journey with me through the awe and wonder that is portrayed in Mary through the scriptures.
400 years of silence had been broken when the angel appeared to Zacharias proclaiming that his prayers had been heard and his wife, Elizabeth, would bear a son, which they should call John. John would be a messenger, an Elijah-like figure prophesied in Malachi 4:3-6.
Now, during those years of silence which may be referred to as the intertestimental period, God had not abandoned his people. You can see his hand through history, causing major political and military events to occur as had been predicted in the book of Daniel (Daniel 7,9). Greece came to power and was conquered by Rome. Israel was looking for the Messiah. The stage was set.
“But when the fullness of time had come, [emphasis mine] God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 NKJV
In Luke 1:26-38 we read when the angel first appears to Mary. He tells her,
“Do not be afraid. You have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33)
Mary inquires of the angel how this can be so as she is a virgin. The angel answers her:
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called ‘the Son of God’. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
Can we pause and take in the wonder of this experience? A young virgin, greeted by an angel, (likely unheard of after 400 years of silence), then to be told that she would carry the Son of God! That is a lot to process. But Mary, answers the angel, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Mary chose obedience in the midst of uncertainty. Her obedience had consequences. There would be judgement upon her. She would be scorned. Her reputation would be sacrificed. Not only that, but her pregnancy under the laws could be punishable by death. Her character could be called into question. Mary, knowing these things, said “yes” anyways. Mary lives out an example of obedience through suffering in those 6-7 words “let it be….”, which we see reflected in Jesus when it came to the cross saying to the Father, “Let it be as you have said”
Sometimes suffering precedes the promise.
“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told to her from the Lord.”
I believe that Mary held on to that in those times of judgement, and scorn, and pain. Mary’s response of humility, grace, and faith show what blessing can come from pain, and here also, redemption.
Mary is the fulfillment of the first gospel promise in Genesis 3:15:
“And I will put enmity between you and the women, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
This Christmas, I hope we can mirror the awe and wonder in Mary. I think about how God used a lowly (social stature) Jewish girl (likely between 14-17) as a vehicle to bring about his plan of redemption – in the form of a helpless child, who grew in her womb, was nurtured, held, and nursed by her.
Jesus humbly took on flesh. God incarnate, the creator of the universe, left eternity to step into the world he created to experience humanity. Considering this in itself fills one with awe. But still, I go back to Mary. What must have filled her knowing that she carried the Messiah. Surely, there must have been days where she was scared and anxious or uncertain. I imagine that she must have lived a hard life, but she, in the midst of that humbled herself and was blessed.
May we ever be moved by the wonder of Jesus, and perhaps also, try to ponder and experience the wonder that must have filled Mary as she carried, birthed, and raised the Son of God.
I pray that you will experience the wonder of Christmas in a new way this year.
“Be silent, all flesh, before the LORD, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.” Zechariah 2:13