In continuing on in my series on the perspectives of Christmas, I want to share with you about a woman who many Evangelicals overlook at Christmas time. I believe she is overlooked because of a backlash of Protestantism that does not accept certain doctrines within the Roman Catholic Church so instead of giving the appearance that we might agree with those doctrines, we just don’t talk much about Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary is a prime example of a woman of faith. She allowed God to use her and submitted to His will no matter what the cost. So if I can encourage you to take off your suspicion about Mary and how some portray her and take an open and honest look at what the Bible says about her, you might find that she is an example that you can look to on how to walk by faith as well.
Mary And The Angel Gabriel
The Birth of Jesus Foretold
26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, 27 to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. 28 Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”
29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. 33 And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”
34 Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”
35 The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. 36 What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing is impossible with God.”
38 Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her.
Now when you look at Mary from a human perspective rather than making her some type of super spiritual saint, you will find that this young woman was truly a woman of faith. Let me share with you just a few of the things that I think are important when seeing the heart of Mary the mother of Jesus.
The age and circumstances surrounding Mary and the conception of Jesus
Many people who live in the western world do not realize that our age of consent and the age when young people get married is quite different than what was common during the time that Jesus was born. Girls were commonly betrothed to be married between the ages of 11-14 and that betrothal lasted 1 year. So Mary could have been as young as 12 when she gave birth to Jesus.
Now think about how it must have shocked a young girl of this age to be visited by the angel Gabriel. Let alone believe that she of all people would be favored by God and give birth to the Messiah. This stands as a testimony to her faith.
Next you need to understand the culture of the day. Mary knew that if she allowed this to happen to her that she would be ridiculed and scorned by her people and by Joseph. She would be called a fornicator, and Jesus would be called illegitimate. There would always be an air of scandal about the situation. Yet Mary, put her trust in God in working out the details. This is a sign of true faith.
The heart of Mary concerning the birth of Jesus
I love what I see in this young girl. Here she is minding her own business and planning a wedding with her fiance’ Joseph. All of a sudden God sends and angel and it possibly could ruin her plans and her life. She reacts like any other person would react. She is confused and disturbed. Have you ever had God show up and upset your apple cart? Yet she doesn’t say no. She doesn’t fight it. She allows God to be the ruler in her life.
The angel Gabriel tells her things that are way beyond her ability to imagine. She asks how she will conceive when she is still a virgin. The angel explains a process that Mary has no clue about. The Holy Spirit is going to come upon me and produce a child? Sounds pretty far fetched to most people. Yet she doesn’t balk at the idea. She just leaves the details up to God. Her response is what shows how much faith she really had.
“I am the Lord’s servant”
What can we learn from Mary’s reaction to the angel Gabriel?
Now let me ask you. How many times have you heard the voice of the Lord concerning something to happen in your life? How many times did you think that it was impossible, that it could never happen? Just like a virgin giving birth, the impossible is possible with God. How many times have you expressed your faith by just saying “I am the Lord’s servant”?
The next time you hear the voice of the Lord telling you to allow Him to do something, I want to just encourage you to step back and instead of thinking of all the reasons that it was not possible, just say “Ok God, it is in your hands, you work it out and I will serve.”
Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.