Mary’s Struggle

mary & elizabth

In just a few more days we will celebrate the birth of our Lord.  What a time of joy—it is not happy holidays or season’s greetings, it is Merry Christmas and my heart dances as we celebrate the holy gift—I love it!  Over the years traditions have developed and are anticipated and enjoyed.  For me, one special tradition is to find a quiet time to read again The Birth by Gene Edwards.  It is a wonderful tale involving all the participants we read of in scripture but presented from the personal perspective of each.  I know it is fiction but the base is sound and there is much to be gleaned from this work.

Have you ever thought about what it must have been like for Mary?  Here is a young girl alone when an angel appears to her and tells her she is the prophesied chosen one[1]—the virgin who will be with child by the Holy Spirit.  What was her response?  She declared herself a servant of the Lord, and asked that the words to her be fulfilled.  Without hesitation or permission from anyone, she said yes.[2]

Now the angel is gone and the struggle for faith begins.  She was a virgin, don’t you know she wondered if anyone would believe her? What would her betrothed, Joseph, say? Did this really happen, or was it a dream?  That was God’s messenger, wasn’t it?

The angel had also told her that her cousin Elizabeth, who was too old to have a baby, was pregnant.  Having this information about Elizabeth looks to me like a gift from God.  If Elizabeth really was pregnant, another was experiencing the miraculous.  It would be confirmation that God was moving.  Mary had to see her.

Mary said yes to God and God honored her.  Somehow she was able to go to Judea and stay for three months until John was born.  Have you ever wondered how she managed that one?  She was a young girl and it was a long trip.  It does not say that anyone went with her.  Women had very little freedom and girls even less.  Wonder what her parents thought, or said or did.  Not only that, but she was engaged to Joseph, did he object?  My guess is that she convinced them that Elizabeth was going to need help for these last months and she was the logical one to do it.  Whatever, God somehow made the way and she went!

The reward of confirmation greeted Mary when she arrived in Judea.  When Elizabeth heard her voice the baby in her womb leaped and Elizabeth proclaimed,

42In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!  43But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.45Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

Elizabeth KNEW!!  Her baby KNEW!  It was true, she was no longer alone with the knowledge of God’s plan.  Mary raises her voice in praise of God glorifying His name in what is now known as the Magnificat.[3]  The angel had spoken, now Elizabeth confirmed—in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a matter be established.[4]

When God speaks, He confirms through seemingly impossible circumstances.  When we say “yes” to a word that is really from God, He’s there with us all the way.  But holding on to faith on a daily basis could not have been easy for Mary.

Three months have passed.  John has been born and his father Zechariah has prophesied the coming redeemer, but it is time to return to Nazareth.  There is no longer any doubt. Mary is pregnant.  With Elizabeth she has been honored and confirmed but now she has to go home.  It is unlikely that she had told her parents or Joseph.  What will they say?  What will people say?  Did she take a letter from Elizabeth or the words of Zachariah to bolster her story?  We don’t know.  We do know that God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream, but not before he had some time to plan to divorce her.[5]  In that day betrothal was binding and sex with a woman betrothed to a man was adultery. Under the law, Mary could have been stoned.

We can only speculate about the gossip and condemnation that accompanied Mary’s pregnancy.  It must have been a long six months followed by a difficult trip to Bethlehem and giving birth in a stable.  I thank God that after she had been through all of this He again confirmed His word to her.  Shepherds came telling of angels proclaiming His kingship on the night of His birth.  When Joseph and Mary went to the temple for the rights of purification[6]  both Simeon and Anna prophesied of Him[7]  Wise men came bearing gifts for the “newborn king.”  God spoke again to Joseph in a dream sending them to Egypt to protect Jesus from Herod who soon slaughtered all the babies under two years old in Bethlehem.[8]

The questions about His birth followed Jesus, they must also have followed Mary.  We know that the Pharisees in John 8 insinuate that Jesus was born of fornication.  It could not have been easy, and it did not go away.  Mary’s struggle took her to the foot of the cross – the prophesied sword pierced her heart– before she received honor as the one chosen by God to be the mother of our Lord—the human component of the second Adam.  We look back on this woman who chose to say yes to God and give thanks!!

[1] Isaiah

[2]  Luke 1:26-38

[3] Luke 1:46-53

[4] Deut. 19:15, Matt 18:16, Rev. 11:3.  Biblically two or three witnesses confirm a truth.

[5] Matthew 1:18-24

[6] Luke 2:23-24 “As it is written in the law of the Lord, every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord …a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

[7] Luke 2:25-36

[8] Matt 2:1-19


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