Christmas comes regardless of circumstances in the world or our personal lives. That first advent was no different for the participants.
Events leading up to Jesus’ birth brought many unexpected challenges to the young couple chosen as the earthly parents of the Son of God. Unique in their role in God’s plan, Mary and Joseph stand as examples for all Christians when caught in unexpected circumstances.
Christmas comes regardless of life’s unexpected detours. Cling to faith.
Joshua 1:9 tells us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Most scholars believe Mary was between twelve and sixteen years old when Jesus was born. Though it seems young to us, Jewish girls of the day usually became engaged around 12 years old. Even in our day, for a young woman to become pregnant outside of marriage presents serious problems. Yet, Mary’s only question for the angel was a practical inquiry as to how she could become pregnant when she was a virgin. Once the angel explained that she would be overshadowed by the Most High, she replied simply, “I am the Lord’s servant.”
The Jewish people of the day had a long history of expecting their messiah and knew he would be born of a virgin. That part would not have been a surprise. Though she surely felt uncertain, we see no tears, panic, or fear of explaining this unique circumstance to her parents or fiancée. We’re not told if Mary’s father was anxious to send her away, perhaps hoping the situation would blow over, or that she might discover it was all a mistake. However, Mary packs her bags and travels to visit her older relative, Elizabeth, who the angel explained was also pregnant.
Other biblical characters reacted with less than commendable attitudes when given a task by God. Mary accepted God’s message through the angel and acted in faith. If she had not, she would not have become the mother of our Lord. Mary is the perfect example of trusting faith and submission to the will of God.
When faced with unexpected news, do you cower in fear, afraid to move forward, or do you act in faith?
Christmas comes regardless of the turmoil in our lives. Trust in God in humility and peace.
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
The submissive tone of Mary’s answer reveals a humble heart, obedient to the will of God, even when the fulfillment of the angel’s message would turn her world upside-down. The world at that time was far more hostile to unmarried mothers than in our day.
Nothing is written about how family, friends, and the townspeople reacted to the betrothed young pregnant woman. Yet, she accepted what the angel said. She raised no objection in a way that would cause God to reject her as the mother of his son. It appears that she traveled to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth, very shortly after the angel’s announcement and remained with Elizabeth for three months. This was time away from her parents, from gossiping neighbors, but also away from Joseph, her betrothed.
When faced with the unexpected, we might run the gamut of emotions, involving a great deal of conversation with others about possible solutions. Perhaps being informed about the unexpected by the appearance of an angel has something to do with her calm demeanor. We see Mary respond with trust, obedience, and a minimum of questions.
Mary’s song when she meets Elizabeth proceeds from a faith far more developed than some Christians of many years. “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name.” (Luke 1:46-49)
The mother of Jesus is a powerful example of how to meet challenging circumstances. Praise God. Seek God. Trust God to guide our way.
How is God asking you to trust him this Christmas season? Will you allow him to fill your heart with his peace?
Christmas comes with a challenge to follow God’s plan rather than our own.
Isaiah 66:2 – “These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.”
Nazareth was a small village, and the families of Joseph and Mary probably knew each other well. Imagine the heartbreak of a young man, betrothed to a young woman that he loves and plans to build a life with, suddenly discovering that she is pregnant and he is not the father.
Hurt and angry, but caring deeply for Mary and not wanting any harm to come to her, Joseph considered divorcing her quietly. Because betrothal meant they were married in all ways but living together, Mary’s pregnancy was regarded as proof of adultery. They might have stoned her to death.
The exact time of their marriage is uncertain. The angel’s visit to Joseph probably came at some point during the three months Mary spent with Elizabeth. However, he married his betrothed, and “he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son” (Matthew 1:25). Upon the birth of Jesus, Joseph became the adoptive, earthly father to the Son of God.
How quickly do you respond when God’s will becomes clear? How well do you accept circumstances far different from what you imagined?
Christmas comes regardless of our uncertainties. Praise God.
Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Mary’s song, recorded in Luke 1:46-55, reveals her focus on the mighty works of a powerful God, a beautiful beginning to a journey that included a difficult trip on the back of a donkey to Bethlehem, fleeing to Egypt because the king had threatened the life of the child, ending with the crucifixion of her son.
The announcement of Jesus’ impending birth was only the first of many uncertain moments Mary and Joseph were to endure. She was at the Cross when her son was crucified, a member of the early church. The last mention of Joseph is when Jesus was twelve years old. He apparently died sometime after that and never saw his adopted son begin to preach.
Mary’s early song of praise thanked God that he remembered and heard her. She praised the name of God, and praised him for things he had done in the past, not only in her life, but in scripture, in history. Last of all, Mary praised God for his provision. God chose her as the mother of his son because she was faithful.
No matter what your circumstances, will you choose to praise God for who he is and all he does? Will you lay aside your fears and concerns, seeking to submit to God’s will and give him glory?
Christmas comes regardless of the circumstances in our lives, bringing a reminder of the faith and humility of Mary and Joseph. God offers peace for our individual lives and for our world in form of his son, born as a baby. Christmas reminds us that God’s plans for our lives may look different than our own, but in the midst of uncertainty, our God is faithful and unchanging. Will you trust him with every detail?