Mary, did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water save our sons and daughterscalm a storm with his hand? Mary, did you know your baby boy is heavens perfect lamb?
- From, Mary, Did You Know,
by Mark Lowry and Buddy Green
Imagine a 9th-grader - your own daughter, niece or any girl you know well - and superimpose her image onto that of Mary, a young Jewish girl who had just received some extraordinary news.
Imagine how the girl you know would react, first to a visit from an angel, and then to the news that she, so young and still a virgin, would have a child - and not just any child, but the promised Messiah. Imagine how you would react when she repeated this news to you. In all likelihood, Marys parents, and Mary herself, felt exactly the same way.
Of all the mysteries surrounding the birth of Jesus, the choice of this young woman to be his mother must have been the most difficult to understand. As Mary already knew, she did meet one of the criteria for her selection. She was part of King Davids bloodline, through whom all the prophets had said the Messiah would come.
But, she must have wondered why God chose her. Had not women from the time of Eve (Genesis 3:15) hoped they might become the mother of the Messiah? What about Hannah, the devout Jewish woman who prayed for a child for years (I Samuel 1:11) before God blessed her with a son? Or Elizabeth, Marys older cousin who, she had just learned, would have a child six months before her own son was born (Luke 1:36)?
God had other plans for the other womens sons. Hannahs Samuel became a celebrated judge in Israel, to include anointing David the King of Israel; and Elizabeths son, John, would play an important role in preparing the way for Marys son to begin his ministry.
Gods plan for his son, in fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, that a virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call his name Immanuel (God with us), included her. As the product of a devout, Jewish home, Mary would have known this Scripture. She also would have been taught to obey Gods commandments, and his call, as her lovely response to the angels announcement reveals: Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word (Luke 1:38).
Imagine being in the ninth month of pregnancy and told you had to travel five days on the back of a donkey, far from home and any semblance of medical facility or staff, while only 14-15 years old. Apparently Marys be it to unto me according to your word still applied. She would make the 90-mile journey without complaint in order to fulfill yet another prophecy, that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). So much of the angels announcement had already come true that she must have known God wouldnt let a difficult journey bring harm to their son. That the child was born in adequate, if not desired, surroundings, and immediately attracted visits from shepherds and kings, increased her confidence that she had indeed borne the promised Messiah.
Some information had been hidden from Mary. She was only given details of her sons birth, not the route he would take to fulfill his messianic role. Perhaps another reason for choosing Mary to bear this child was that she was too young to realize how difficult life can be, especially when, 33 years later, she would watch her grown son suffer and die on a cross.
As author Jim Bishop summarizes in The Day Christ Was Born: If the Father had permitted her to see the enormity of the whole plan, she would have been overwhelmed in the presence of Jesus and could not have discharged the duties of a good mother in the normal process of raising a child.
Someone has said that the chief aim of a woman is to give birth. Yet even the childless among us, of either gender, can become extensions of Mary, when, through their influence, Jesus is born once more in another persons heart.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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