Saturday, December 08, 2007

Mary's Joy

In light of this coming Christmas, I just wanted to highlight the joy that Mary had that accompanied her obedience to God in agreeing to her unique role as the mother of our Savior and Lord--I have always found the part of the story before Jesus' birth intriguing, and there are so many inspirational elements to it. It has been proposed that Mary feared the possible dangers that accompanied this adventure, in view of her not yet being married; but none of that is ever shown in Scripture. To the contrary, her immediate answer to the angel Gabriel, after discovering the means by which it would happen, was one of complete willingness: "Let it be unto me as you have said." The Scripture gives no hint that her will struggled in the slightest against this great unknown, this mystery, this unique privilege.
There's a very practical way that I find to understand her confidence, apart from just her simple faith and obedience: Would God let anything happen to the mother of the Savior? She would be the safest person on the planet, you can be sure. Who knows how much she pondered that thought if at all; I think her willingness was more simple trust in God to protect His servant, or even further, it was her willingness to endure whatever it took to obey Him for what might be the most profound purpose to which any mere human has been called. It seems to me that I've heard that Jewish women all desired the role that Gabriel delivered to her; but also I imagine that God had created Mary uniquely for that role at that time, and instilled in her heart a sweetness and vital trust that might surpass that of any other woman in history.
Not only did she respond willingly to Gabriel, but Luke tells us that when she received that great greeting from Elizabeth, who was about 6 months along with John the Baptist, Mary broke out in a song of her own composition yet Scripture-based, praising God and delighting in the coming of her Savior, and calling herself blessed. All in all, reading the words of this song (which is referred to as the Magnificat), it is a delightful thing to ponder her condition and the mood of that song. It is also important to recognize that in this song, she calls Jesus her Savior. She knows that she needs the salvation He makes available, as does anyone else.
She was not the only one delighting in His presence on earth; not only Elizabeth, either, who could only know through the power of the Holy Spirit that Mary came to visit because they were both expecting and were parties to the most monumentous event in all of human history! Not only Elizabeth, but her tiny baby, still unborn, who leaped in her womb, rejoicing at the recognition of his cousin Jesus' presence. It shows that the unborn baby has a spirit, and that for the sake of this event, God instilled in John the Baptist a recognition that had nothing to do with mere human sense, but even as an unborn baby, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, as Gabriel had promised his father Zacharias. What a delight it must have been to these two women to visit together and ponder what was to come. I would be fascinated to somehow review their conversations that are unrecorded in Scripture regarding all that they were experiencing and expecting, and what they must have said about the angel Gabriel.
Zacharias' prophetic song, also, is filled with joy at God's deliverance. Other than Zacharias' initial doubt, these families, once assured by Gabriel, didn't anywhere in the Scriptures show fear, distrust, or hesitation. It was a delight to be used by God for such a great purpose as to bring His most indescribable Gift to earth. Perhaps no family before or since has ever been so filled with excitement and anticipation as they were at that time!
Joseph also treated Mary in the gentlest way possible considering the initial confusion he faced, and though little is recorded of his response to the angel of the Lord who explained the situation to him, it is all one of obedience and lovingkindness.
At some point a star even appeared, shining down from heaven, so clearly pointing to Mary, Joseph and Jesus that it directed the Magi from other countries to their house--it existed primarily, perhaps, to guide people to the Savior, but wouldn't it also show that God had singled this family out as His, not to be messed with? If a person had it in his heart to persecute them, and then saw that a star from heaven so specifically shone down on their home, it could only strike fear into his heart and change his mind. Who would think of sending such a star, who would have the power to exercise that thought, except the One who had called all the stars into being? As a result, their safety was all the more assured. God had put His divine stamp on their presence among the people.
In all this story, all I see among Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth and eventually Zacharias is sweet faith, delight, and obedience.

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