“Faith over Fear”, People of the Christmas Story: Mary

Welcome back to today’s Time in the Word. We continue in our scripture study, which comes from Luke 1:26-45. If you are reading this digitally, you can simply click on the highlighted text. Otherwise, I invite you to grab your bible and turn to Luke 1, picking up verses 26-45. We’re almost done with our discovery of how the people of the Christmas Story: Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Joseph- chose “Faith over Fear”.

Last week we met Elizabeth and joined her in her five-month seclusion. Elizabeth was overjoyed to be blessed with a pregnancy in her old age and took those five months to enjoy her gift. What a blessing her son will be to God’s people as we read the “He will’s”. If you missed last week’s devotional, you can pick it up here. How quickly do you say yes to God?

Mary

Today we begin with Mary being visited by the Angel Gabriel. Here are some Mary facts:

  • Mary was a virgin, young teen, thought to be between 12-16
  • She was betrothed to Joseph
  • Lived in the town of Nazareth, in Galilee- these places have importance

I want to quickly unpack what a Jewish betrothal is. In the Jewish culture, a man initiates the process of marrying a Jewish girl by pledging his life to her, with the condition that she will accept his proposal and return the same love and affection; a pledge. That is their first step.

Once the young woman accepts the young man’s pledge, a public betrothal ceremony ensues. At this public declaration, the young man and young women declare their covenant pledges within that ceremony. To ensure the sincerity of the groom’s intentions, the young man would leave the young woman a cherished gift. This gift assured her that he would return for her.

After this betrothal ceremony, the young man would spend a year or two preparing a home for them. The young girl likewise spent the year preparing for wife and mother duties. They each prepared for the life they would share.

Once the groom had the home ready, he would alert the bride and she would prepare herself. The whole community would join in witnessing their wedding.

“Greetings, you who are highly favored. The Lord is with you. Do not be afraid.”

The angel Gabriel knew that appearing to anyone on earth generally struck fear in their heart. In this case, he is popping in on a young girl, not an old priest. The angel tells Mary right away that she was highly favored and God was with her, so don’t be afraid by me showing up to speak to you.

Once again angel Gabriel gets right to the point of his visit. Mary, you will conceive, give birth to a boy, you will call him Jesus. Then the angel goes into the “He will’s …”

  • He will be great, be called “Son of the Most High”
  • He will be given the throne of David
  • He will reign over Jacobs descendants forever
  • His kingdom will never end

That was a great deal of information to take in. A great deal of Jewish prophecy will come to fruition through these angelic words. Mary’s mind had to be racing to keep up with it all. And by all standards, she was just a “kid”.

How will this be?

Like Zechariah Mary asked the same question, “How will this be?” But unlike Zechariah, who knew the Lord and in faith shouldn’t have asked the angel “how”, Mary was young and there were some dire social, traditional, and religious consequences with being pregnant before she was publically married.

These consequences were not just simple snide comments, gossip, or judgment. They could mean death; death by stoning. Also likely to occur was a divorce from Joseph during the betrothal period. Certainly “a rough go” by any angle.

To Mary’s youthful credit, she did ask how she would become pregnant since she was a virgin. Mary was well aware of the “birds and the bees”. It would only be right for her to ask how this would occur. Maybe in her mind, Mary was very concerned with how this would be accomplished in a “clean” manner. God is holy and pure, and being “clean” in the Jewish culture was everything.

God’s got this

The angel assured Mary that God’s Spirit would overshadow her and this is how Jesus would be called God’s son. A pure, holy conception in the blink of an eye-done! Just to give Mary assurance of miraculous, the angel told her that her barren cousin Elizabeth was in her sixth month of pregnancy. And without skipping a beat Mary was in total agreement and saw herself as a servant to God’s will.

I gotta get out of town

The bible tells us Mary packed her bags and went to Elizabeth’s home. It is there, baby John lept in Elizabeth’s womb when Mary greeted her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and rejoiced with confirmation of Mary carrying the savior of the world. Incredible!

This is the beauty of Christmas and Christ. The promise of redemption. The act of faith and trust in what was revealed to them; not fear. Though it all seemed too incredible, it wasn’t. And like verse 37 says, “For no word from God will ever fail.”

I wish you all a wonder-filled Christmas! Look for the miracle of redemption that Christ brings for all people. We’ll pick up next week with Joseph. Till next time. Thank you for joining me here in Time in the Word.

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