Don’t know nearly as much as we’d like about Mary and Joseph. What we do know gleaned from reading lines and between lines relatively few portions of Scripture. Those portions shed some light on questions last song asked – inform us of what Mary learned from what Gabriel told her, insight her cousin Elisabeth and husband Zacharias provided during her 3-month visit.
Gabriel communicated great deal in relatively few words: might have been young but knew what it meant to live a godly life. Highly favored by God, was one who experienced power of God in daily life. Like select few identified in Bible, Mary had found favor with God, reserved for those who were up to speed on God’s expectations and endeavored with his help to meet them. Then Gabriel dropped the bombshell – in brief series of statements, made irrefutable connections with OT promises of Messiah:
“the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David” — “He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” — “the child to be born will be holy” — “he will be called the Son of God”
Mary surely had enough knowledge of OT herself to connect a few more dots. Gabriel helped Mary know was going to be a God-thing just like miraculous birth of John the Baptist. Hinted she could trust Elisabeth to help answer other questions Mary might have. Wasted no time in getting there – “ Mary arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste”.
Immediately when Mary greeted Elisabeth, she confirms what Gabriel had said – pronouncing Mary blessed… and the mother of her Lord. Mary’s response: echoes of Hannah’s song of thanksgiving, numerous Psalms, allusions to the prophets. Mary so steeped in the Bible her song of joy sounds like more Scripture.
Time rapidly approaching for John to be born, can imagine what kind of conversations Elisabeth and Mary had. Comparing notes of how respective sons would be used by God – obviously must be something great given miraculous nature of their births. Even Gabriel assured Mary that God could make the unbelievable happen – ”For with God nothing will be impossible.” Zacharias and Elisabeth knew that their son John would be the forerunner, one who would prepare the way for Messiah. Almost certainly made connection – that Mary would give birth to promised Messiah.
That being so, Mary would have known much about future of the newborn she swaddled that first night – why it was right for angels to announce his birth, for shepherds to come and worship. Perhaps she did know her son would perform miracles of healing, that somehow the baby she birthed was Emmanuel… God with us. Surely Mary remembered Gabriel’s declaration that her son would rule an eternal kingdom, that he would be great, that somehow he would be the deliverer of his people.
There are some questions not recorded in holy writ whose answers would have troubled Mary greatly. Simeon’s incredible joy at recognizing his answer to prayer not lost on her, and she probably… shyly… rejoiced with him. Sure, he blessed the new family, yet his final words of prophetic counsel must have unsettled the new mother. Mary, did you know…
A. how unpopular your Son would be
true, came to bring peace to earth, was even called Prince of Peace, yet not everyone experienced that peace
before he had time by own words and actions to make enemies, very powerful one sought to do him harm
Matt. 2:13Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.”
3 decades later: period of formal ministry hardly begun, went to home town on Sabbath, preached powerful sermon – strong unexpected (to us) response
Luke 4:28-29 “So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff.”
then, Jesus not only violated Pharisees’ Sabbath rule, encouraged disabled man to do same – demonstrated compassion, told to pick up his mat and walk – when challenged, called God his Father!
John 5:18 “Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
B. how small his success would appear
conservative estimate: Jesus walked 15,000 miles during life, from 1500 to 3000 while carrying out time of personal ministry
healed countless people of infirmity – one instance alone (heard few minutes ago) “And that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.” (Luke 7:21)
tried to get some time away, great multitude followed – after teaching for much of the day, provided meal for “about five thousand men, besides women and children.” (Matt. 14:21) plus 12 baskets of leftovers
after this, spent three days ministering to large crowd: “had with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them.”
once again, hungry and needing nourishment – again provided meal to satisfy “four thousand men, besides women and children” (Matt. 15:38) … plus leftovers
yet after thousands of miles, interacting with thousands of people, had no place he could call home, “nowhere to lay his head”
after had turned over his ministry to others, sum total of open followers would fit in this room – “the number of names was about a hundred and twenty” (Acts 1:15) – less than 1:1000 of people he met
C. how few loyal friends he would have
Jesus encountered thousands of people, touched hundreds if not thousands by word and flesh, yet only twelve named as intimate friends – even one of them a betrayer
impulsive Peter, loyal to his Master regardless of what might occur, declared such: “even if I have to die with You, I will not deny you” (Matt. 26:35) a sentiment echoed by all the rest in the room
what did Jesus say night of his betrayal? Mark 14:27 “Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: ‘I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.'”
none accompanied Jesus to trial, none advocated for his innocence, none offered to take his place – all kept their distance during time of greatest stress, need for support and encouragement
D. how much your deliverance would cost Him
knew from angel Gabriel that Baby would be called “Son of Most High/ Son of God”; heard Elisabeth’s confirmation that her Baby would be “the Lord”
Mary opened song of praise with “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”, heard Simeon declare he had seen God’s salvation (Luke 2:30)
did she apply final Servant Song of Isaiah to her child? few contemporaries saw Messiah in ch. 53, was passage Ethiopian struggled with – Acts 8:34“I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?”
Isaiah 53:2-8 “For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.”
E. how much of your Bible was about Him
often read, especially OT, through lens of action heroes: Cain and Abel, Noah and Ark, Jacob and Esau, Joseph and coat of many colors, Caleb and Joshua, David and Goliath, Daniel and lions den
what about Abel and Jesus, Noah and Jesus, Jacob and Jesus, Joshua and Jesus, David and Jesus, Daniel and Jesus – he is there
Luke 24:13-27 “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.
Philip’s response to Ethiopian: Acts 8:35 “Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.”
Night of Jesus’ birth, Mary likely still unaware of these questions, much less the answers. Yet as we approach the manger, see that Child born of a virgin, cannot remain neutral. How will you respond?
as Mary: “my spirit rejoices in God my Savior”, recognizing God’s kept promises, fall down in worship of God in the flesh
as skeptic – miracles don’t happen, just legends and folk tales; this just account of unwed teenager covering up indiscretion
as one who sees, perhaps for first time, truth of God’s word – like Mary, in need of a Savior who is Christ the Lord, recognizing Jesus as that Savior
During ministry, Jesus told his followers: “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” For people to see and follow that light, we must take it to them. Make sure you spread lots of light, declaring your confidence that God has indeed kept his promises and sent his son to be the Savior of the world.