As the holidays get closer this year, I am reminded of a Christmas question which happens to be the title to one of my very favorite Christmas songs, “Mary Did You Know?” (Click on the song title to listen)
Most know the Christmas story, but I am seeing it from a different viewpoint this year….Mary’ perspective.
Luke 1:26-36 NASU
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.
Even though the angel came to explain, what was to happen, can you imagine walking in Mary’s shoes and trying to make any sense of this unusual destiny that she was called to fulfill?
Most individuals love it when God gives them confirmation, especially when He gives such an unusual assignment as He gave to Mary! Joseph was planning to send Mary away secretly when she told him she was pregnant, but then the angel of the Lord told him what she has said was true. Thankfully, not only was this assignment confirmed through Joseph, but confirmation also came through Mary’s relative Elizabeth.
Luke 1:39-45 NKJV
39 Now Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste, to a city of Judah, 40 and entered the house of Zacharias and greeted Elizabeth. 41 And it happened, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 Then she spoke out with a loud voice and said, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 But why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For indeed, as soon as the voice of your greeting sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45 Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.”
Even with two witnesses I cannot begin to imagine the exciting yet difficult path that Mary was commissioned to walk. Understanding this unusual conception was only the beginning.
When it was time for delivery, Mary was again in a remarkable predicament. While traveling to register for the census, the time came to give birth. There was no room in the inn so she was forced to delivery baby Jesus in a stable and lay him in a manger. Read below this amazing story.
Luke 2:7-20 NASU
7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. 8 In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; 11 for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 “This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” 15 When the angels had gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, “Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. 17 When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.
I love that last verse….”Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
Let’s quickly review this unusual assignment. First Mary is chosen to have a child fathered by the Holy Spirit while she is a virgin. After walking through this pregnancy and all of the questions that I am sure came with it, she has to deliver this child in a barn! Now she is faced with the next challenge, which was the need to go into hiding because Herod wanted her child destroyed. We pick up reading after the wise men had left the manger:
Matthew 2:13 NKJV
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
Mary wasn’t able to return to her home because her life was now dictated by the destiny of the child she bore.
We don’t read much more about their unusual lives until Jesus was twelve. His family traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. His parents realized He was not in the group on the way home.
Luke 2:46-51 NASU
46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. 47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers. 48 When they saw Him, they were astonished; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You treated us this way? Behold, Your father and I have been anxiously looking for You.” 49 And He said to them, “Why is it that you were looking for Me? Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” 50 But they did not understand the statement which He had made to them. 51 And He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
We have seen a common theme in the Scriptures we have read….Mary treasured or pondered these things in her heart. The song I referenced at the beginning of this writing asks the questions so well. It says:
“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.
Mary did you know that your baby boy will one day walk on water? Mary did you know that your baby boy will save our sons and daughters? Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new? This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you.” 1
Mary was the one who encouraged Jesus to perform His first miracle, turning water into wine (John 2:1-11). She must have been so proud as she observed Him heal the sick, multiply food for thousands, and raise the dead. She must have felt such concern when she watched as He was rejected, ridiculed, and falsely accused. Eventually she finds herself at the foot of the cross (John 19:25-27).
Now she is asked the most difficult question, “Mary did you know your son Jesus was born to die?”
Can you even imagine a mother’s heart breaking in this moment? This innocent Son suffered unbelievable agony as He bore stripes and died for all humanity, so we might have eternal life. I believe Jesus knew Mary’s pain. Look at this passage:
John 19:25-27 NKJV
25 Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26 When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” 27 Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home.
He was making sure she was taken care of when He was gone.
Jesus was resurrected three days later, but not long after He ascended into heaven. Jesus fulfilled the mandate He was given on this earth, yet I am sure Mary missed her Son.
She pondered many things in her heart during His lifetime….now I expect her heart felt the pain of loss. Mary was an amazing woman. She walked a difficult path, but one that benefited us all. She went where none had gone before. Where would we be if she had refused?
During the Christmas season, we celebrate the glory of God that came to us first through a baby and now exist among us in the form of the Holy Spirit. This glory enables us to walk the path that God created for each of us to travel.
At times, our human strength is gone and our willingness to persevere the challenges life brings wears thin. We have asked the question, “Mary did you know?” I could ask each of you reading this if I called you by name, “______ did you know?”
Between the prediction and the fulfillment of the promise, there is a process. Any time you are pregnant with promise you have a process! I am sure that when that angel first visited Mary she had no idea the process she would walk through, yet where would we be had she not been faithful to the assignment?
I don’t know where you are in the process, but just as Mary had a destiny to fulfill, so do we! Wherever you are in the process you can be strengthened and encouraged in His presence and by the example that we have seen through the life of Mary.
My Christmas blessing to you is that you will receive encouragement today to complete all of your assignments and that the Glory of the Lord will shine through you brightly during this wonderful season and into next year.
1. “Mary, Did You Know?” Lyrics written by Mark Lowry and music written by Buddy Green