There are two kinds of people in this world.
There are those who seem to ooze Christmas spirit. If you’re one of these, you love everything about Christmas. You look forward to December with anticipation. You love the traditions of this time of year—the smell of pine trees, the feel of a warm cup of cocoa in your hands, the twinkle of little white lights all around your neighborhood.
Then there is the second group. Those girls whose spirits limp into the Christmas season. Who struggle to embrace the hubbub of this time of year. Who want to keep their eyes focused on Jesus, lying in a manger, but somehow just can’t seem keep their attention there.
Honestly, I tend to hang out in the second camp. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas, but I struggle to dwell on Jesus coming to earth as a tiny babe (the fancy church word for that is the Incarnation). The demands of daily life keep pulling my thoughts out of the manger and on to things that simply don’t matter as much.
That’s why no matter how many times I’ve heard it, I can’t get enough of the Christmas story found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Reading it is like the ultimate treasure hunt—the more I dig, the more gold nuggets I find!
That’s why I’m taking you with me on a treasure hunt through the Christmas story all month on the blog. We will examine each of the key players involved in Jesus’ birth and see if they can point our hearts toward the baby who changed everything.
So whether you’re reading this while listening to Christmas music or feeling more like grumbling, “Bah, humbug!” I hope you’ll join me in revisiting that first Christmas through the eyes of the people who were there.
Grab your shovel, and let’s start digging!
Hail Mary the Brave
Mary bursts onto the scene of Christ’s coming birth in Luke 1:26–39. Here’s a quick rundown of what this passage tells us about her.
- Mary lived in Nazareth.
- She was a virgin.
- She was betrothed (that’s a fancy word for engaged) to Joseph.
- The Bible doesn’t tell us Mary’s age. Most Bible scholars agree she was likely young, possibly a teenager, due to the fact that she wasn’t yet married.
Mary is minding her own business when the angel Gabriel appears to her. Here is part of the dialogue the Bible records between Mary and Gabriel in Luke 1:28–35.
Gabriel: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
Note: The Bible says that the angel’s words troubled Mary. I’d be troubled if an angel showed up in the middle of my day, too!
Gabriel goes on to explain that Mary will conceive through the Holy Spirit and then lets the secret slip that Mary’s cousin Elizabeth is also pregnant, even though she has been barren.
Then the angel declares these powerful words: “For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Nothing is impossible with God.
Let that soak into your heart.
Churn it around over and over in your mind until a gem emerges.
Nothing is impossible with God.
There is no challenge you will ever face that is too big for Him.
There is no calling He will ever give you that you cannot carry out.
There is no mission too huge for Him.
There is no obstacle that He cannot obliterate.
That is the message of Christmas, really. As the story draws us into the manger, we look past Jesus lying in that smelly barn and see the miraculous sinless life He lived. If we keep looking, we see the cross He died on to pay for our sins. If we squint and look a little harder, we see the grave that He rose from three days later.
Nothing can stop Him.
Death cannot hold Him.
Nothing will ever prevent Him from demonstrating His love for us and doing His part to reconcile us to the Father.
When Mary heard that nothing was impossible with God, she said one of the bravest sentences in the whole Bible.
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Here’s the edavis paraphrase:
“I belong to God. I will do whatever He asks me to.”
Why were those words so brave? Think for a minute about what Gabriel was really calling Mary to.
Though young and unmarried, Mary was going to be a momma. Not just any momma, but the momma of the Savior of the whole world. There is no parenting manual for that. The angel neglected to stick around to tell Mary’s parents the news and wouldn’t tell her beloved, Joseph, until after Mary had to tell him herself. Mary would face rumors swirling around her little town. (Immaculate conception?! Yeah, right!) She would have to deal with embarrassment and public humiliation at the same time the pregnancy hormones hit. Then she would have to raise Jesus. (If you think that was always an easy task, check out Luke 2:41–52). Then Mary would watch as her son was put on trial, falsely accused, publically beaten, and hung on a cross. The Bible says that Mary stood nearby as He died there (John 19:25).
Sometimes the Lord’s favor feels like watching your boy die an unjust and agonizing death.
Mary didn’t know what was down the road, of course. But she didn’t press Gabriel for the deets.
She simply said, “I belong to God. I will do what He says.”
How about you?
When God calls you to big things (and little things!), do you want assurance that everything will be okay (and feel okay) before you step out in faith? If you feel ill-equipped or insecure, do you disobey or delay?
The next time God asks you to obey, let me encourage you to simply repeat Mary’s very brave words:
“Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.”