“I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” – Luke 1:38
Harry Tanner, The Annunciation
After reading the story about Mary, the mother Jesus, it bothers me that I don’t think I would have been as brave as Mary. But let’s look at what was taking place.
This is the scene: Some time after the betrothal of Joseph and Mary, but before they consummated the marriage, the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that God chose her to give birth to the long-awaited Messiah.
This is the question: “How this is possible, since I’m a virgin?”
This is the answer: “The power of the Most High will overshadow you, so the baby to be born will be called the Son of God.”
This is the consequence: According to the Law in Deut. 22:23-24, death by stoning for adultery. According to Gabriel, the birth of God-with-Us.
This is the response: “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.”
As I said, I don’t know if I would have been as brave as Mary.
Some of you may remember the stigma that once surrounded a girl who was pregnant out of wedlock. Although now in the United States, where more than a million teenage girls get pregnant out of wedlock, Mary’s predicament loses some of its force. However, imagine that the penalty for this infraction is death by stoning, while the girl is claiming to be a virgin and that the Father is the Lord God Almighty. Imagine how Planned Parenthood, the religious right and the ACLU would fight over that scenario!
I also find it interesting that after hearing such a magnificent announcement about bearing the Savior of the world, Mary has something simpler on her mind: “How this is possible, since I’m a virgin?” It seems that no matter how hard we try, we always filter our faith through the facts. And the fact is this: Mary’s simple acquiescence to the Lord’s request would forever change the life of a poor teenage girl from a backwater town in Israel. It would also change the world.
However, a work of God is a two-edged sword, coming with both great joy and great pain. After considering the repercussions, Mary simply says “Yes” to God. This is one of the things that I really like about Mary: She was the first person to accept Jesus on His own terms, regardless of the personal cost. Mary said, “Be it done according to what you’ve said.” She weighed the knowledge of being an outcast in her home, and chose obedience and submission to God over comfort and acceptability. That should be a challenge to all of us.
Mary also responds with a song that we have come to call The Magnificat. A song like Mary’s comes from a heart that practices praising God – from a life that is faithful to worship God in the good times as well as in the bad times. And this was definitely one of those good times/bad times events. Being the bearer of the Son of God was going to be a mixed blessing, for with this honor came deep pain and a tremendous responsibility. At the circumcision and consecration of Jesus, Simeon said, “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel” (Luke 2:34). Remember, nothing significant is accomplished for the Kingdom of God without great sacrifice.
But as Mary sacrificed her will and her body to carry Jesus within her, we now have the same privilege. God has handpicked each one of us to live with the same purpose as Mary – to bring Jesus alive into the world.
God created our bodies to be a home for His Spirit, a sacred vessel through which He makes Himself known to our families, friends, and co-workers, in our homes, in our schools, at our jobs and at the supermarket. Everywhere we go, we take Jesus with us, and so everyday is Christmas in the lives of Christians, giving us the opportunity to bring the world’s greatest gift to whomever we meet, no matter what time of year it is.
I sometimes wonder if I have what it takes to bring Jesus alive into my world. But those God chooses He enables, and with God’s grace I know I can. God offers all of us an invitation to bring the good news of our Savior into the world. How will we respond? A simple “Yes” will do.
First posted Dec. ’08