By Greg Steele
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Jasper
Focal Passage: Luke 1:26-38
When most people think about Mary, the mother of Jesus, they think of a peaceful, serene and virtuous woman. Now all of those are probably true characteristics, but I think she also was a very real person.
In our passage, Luke paints a portrait of Mary with real doubt, questions and faith. Where I think we see this the best is in v. 38, “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.
This may be one of the greatest statements of faith in all the Bible. I don’t know how many times I have read this and not really paid attention to the richness of this verse. Remember, this is a 16-year-old who is very much in love. She is told by an angel you’re going to get pregnant, you’re going to give birth to a son and He’s going to be the Son of God. I can only imagine that her hands began to tremble, her mouth fell open wide and she started questioning, but it was more from wondering than out of fear.
Mary said yes to God, yes to the impossible and yes to the plan of God.
When the angel said, “Nothing is impossible with God,” Mary took a deep breath and said, “May it be done to me according to your word.” And with those words Christmas began.
Mary would soon realize that saying “yes” to God meant misunderstanding and public shame. Her pure reputation and her dreams of a quiet, happy life in Nazareth were gone. Since we know the end of the story we know how Joseph reacted to hearing of her pregnancy. But Mary had no way of knowing how Joseph would respond, would he become angry and walk out? Would he embarrass her publicly? Would he divorce her?
Based on last week’s lesson we know that Joseph showed love and care for Mary and wanted to do the right thing. We know that it was only because of an angel’s involvement that kept all that from happening. Before it was all said and done, Mary would experience heartache, opposition, confusion, and loneliness. In the end she would face the greatest pain a mother can endure when she watched her son die on a cross.
Mary couldn’t have known all these things. She didn’t know the full cost of saying “yes.” Perhaps if she had she might not have said “yes.” But it’s just as well that she didn’t. Sometimes we say, “I wish I knew what the future holds for me.” But we really don’t want to know. It’s far better that we don’t know what life will bring us in 10 or 15 years.
I’m sure Mary asked, “Why me?” Out of all the people in the world, why would God pick a poor teenage girl to bring His son into the world? There’s lots of answers to those questions, but there was only one that mattered. God chose Mary because He trusted her. He knew she would believe the impossible.
We know that once Mary made her decision she never looked back.
When God said, “Are you willing to believe the impossible?” Mary said, “Yes!” And with that yes, Christmas came to be. It’s still true that “Nothing is impossible with God.” It’s as true today as it was 2,000 years ago.
God simply wants from us the same thing He wanted from Mary. Simple faith that He will do what He says, possibly in unlikely and unexpected ways. B&R — Steele is pastor of First Baptist Church, Jasper.