Imagine a young girl from obscurity to prominence. Imagine coming from a small town to becoming world renown and the without a doubt the most recognized woman of all times. Who is this young woman? Mary – the mother of JESUS
This young girl who was a virgin and soon to be married is confronted by an Angel who said;
‘The angel went to her and said; “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you”. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favour with God. You will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered, “May it happen to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.’ (Luke 1:28-38)
What a sudden confusion she must have experienced. Try wrapping your mind around what just happened to this young lady. Soon to be married, a virgin, and now not only to give birth, but without conception as we know it, and then to be told you will be giving birth to the Son of God. How did she respond? Her response was simply; “I am the Lord’s servant, may it happen to me as you have said”
The consequences living in any time with that type of announcement would bring a host of difficulties for any woman, but to live in a day and place where customs and expectations for a woman were quite different than today, elevate the pressure she must have experienced to a level few people could have endured. People gossip and can be cruel and I’m sure while living in a small town the looks and talk had to have caused her consternation.
Joseph and Mary lived in north Israel, and Bethlehem was in the south. God arranged circumstances so that Mary, even though she was very pregnant, had to travel to Bethlehem as prophecy dictated:
“In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem, the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who has pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.” (Luke 2:1-7)
It takes a strong woman to travel a distance when expecting a child (remember were not talking a Cadillac Escalade with heated seats). Then to give birth in such a lowly place as a stable and to place your child in a feeding trough knowing you are giving birth to the Son of God and never complain but to be grateful.
As she raised her child to an adult there was conflict in her family as even Jesus’ younger brothers didn’t believe in him. They made fun of him and mocked him. Imagine the pain Mary had to endure with not only disbelief and talk from outside the family but also the conflict within her own family.
“Jesus’ brothers said to him; “You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.” (John 7:3-5)
As Mary watched her son grow she must have heard the criticism of him as many refuted he was the Messiah. She must have continued to receive criticism herself as she was his mother and it was she who received the message from the Angel proclaiming she would give birth to “The Son of the Most High”. I’m sure the Internet Critics of the day were busy tearing her down and belittling her giving birth as less than honorable.
Mary was there as her son was crucified on the cross, to witness the ultimate denial and criticism of his claim. How many people, man or woman could have handled as Mary did the criticism she sustained from her son’s birth to death, an entire lifetime?
As we approach this Christmas day to celebrate the birth of Christ, remember the woman of strength who was chosen to serve as bearer of the Savior of Man.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible NIV (New International Version)